Africa’s next top model talks Ugandan views on modelling, skipping law school to take on the fashion world, and coming out on top. Raised by a single mum in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where modelling was not considered an all that admirable profession, Aamito Lagum’s future wasn’t set to be one in the dreamy, faraway world of fashion. That all changed when her mum unwillingly (she’d rather Aamito became a lawyer) gave her the transport fare to Nairobi, where the casting for the first season of Africa’s Next Top Model was taking place. The show was hosted by Nigerian model and previous i-D cover star Oluchi Onweagba and Aamito 100% came out on top, winning the contest out of twelve girls. Now signed to Viva London, autumn/winter 15 was her first official show season, and her catlike stare, glowing skin and pillowy lips have gone on to grace not only the Marc Jacobs campaign (yes, the one that features Cher, Willow Smith, Winona Ryder etc), but also the same hallowed pages that her idol Oluchi once graced the cover of – i-D. Here are 10 more things you need to know about 22-year-old Aamito.
1. She’ll never forget her Ugandan roots (or her mum).
“Well, Kampala is 11,367 Kilometers away from New York. Each of those miles reminds me each morning that I have come too far to be comfortable with where I am. And might I add that my mum is an archetype of hardworking; some of those genes had to fall over.”
2. Winning Africa’s Next Top Model meant she got to see the world’s love centre…
“I have gotten to see the world. The posh beauty of London, world’s love centre Paris, Milan, New York among others. It is just wonderful for little me to meet the big world. But most of all, I have gotten to meet and work with a bunch of incredible and talented minds.”
3. Her favourite show from her first season was ALL OF THEM.
“Every one of them, yes. I am not one for picking favourites and I have to admit it was a great honour to have me walking in all of the different shows. I will not take that for granted.”
4. If she wasn’t modelling she would be:
“Studying law and singing. Either in the shower or on a stage. Music is most definitely my version of steroids.”
5. Oluchi is her biggest idol.
“In my eyes she is fashion’s biggest model of rags to riches. Not just because she made it from the corridors of obscurity to the world stage, but because when she got there, she gave a hand and a platform to the voiceless but ambitious talents. Here I am, thanks to her.”
6. She thinks everyone should be body-proud. If she could change one thing about this industry it would be:
“The self-loathing that has been made fashionable. It sucks to meet people too conscious of their body weight to live a little. I once was almost denied getting my fair share of pancakes from a fan behind the counter who said they would mess up my body! The best body I believe for everybody is the one they have got; and while gorging at every burger in sight might be bad, starving yourself for picture perfect’s sake is twice as worse.”
7. The most rebellious thing she’s ever done was…
“…skipping law school to become a fashion model. You see, where I am from, those in my trade do not rank in the list of Ugandan ‘anythings’… lawyers do. So passing up that for modelling took some chutzpah.”
8. In a blockbuster of her life, this is who Aamito would cast to play herself and her romantic other:
“Strange as it sounds, it would easily be the adorable Jennifer Lawrence. She did kick some quality *** in her role her role in Hunger Games. Plus, her sense of humour can break a couple of ribs. My romantic other, hmm, seeing that I’m riding the ‘sole-train’ right now, it’s hard to pick. But I would love Gerard James Butler to play my would-be romantic other. He is that big cotton eye-candy wrapped around a crispy cone of success. And don’t get me started on that accent…”
9. She’s got some swell advice for all the dreamers out there…
“Do not just dream, do. We all have been at the age where we own something in our sleep; the man of our dreams, the job of our dreams, the shoes of our dreams… Thing is, your backs won’t afford bigger beds if you don’t work for them. And believe me you, bigger beds give bigger dreams.”
10. Girl’s got ambition. This is where she wants to be in 10 years time:
“I see myself as a global brand. Even then, I still want to be as ambitious as I was three years ago, long before Africa’s Next Top Model was a reality. I want to be a ten year upgrade of the current me. I want to take on new challenges with a learning curiosity so I can be the happy cat when it is all done.”