Black-owned talent agency rewriting the modelling narrative

June 3, 2022

Black-owned talent agency rewriting the modelling narrative

Images from the ‘Things In Common’ launch campaign which can be viewed on their Instagram page. Photo: Supplied.

A new black-owned New Zealand talent and marketing agency wants to empower black artists and influence a more diverse industry.

South African-born Siposetu Duncan and Rwandan-born Sevi’gne Mtakwa co-founded their agency ‘Things In Common’ this year.

The talent management agency represents and helps to source opportunities for black creatives including photographers, makeup artists and models.

“We wanted to bring something different. If we put together a photoshoot for a brand, we can do the full production using exclusively black talent which is a super new thing in New Zealand,” Mtakwa says.

Both women have drawn upon personal experiences to inspire their mission for change and inclusiveness.

Duncan says she knew something had to change at one of her first modelling gigs where her hairstylist didn’t know what to do with her hair.

“At that moment I realised there’s a problem. It affected my self-esteem because everyone’s hair looks amazing, and you’re there having to go to the bathroom, to comb your hair using your phone camera.”

LISTEN to Sevi’gne and Siposetu share their thoughts on diversity here.

They say that genuine diversity means trying to cater to everyone’s needs and constantly looking for new talent.

“It would be so great to see the understanding that if you’ve got a Black model on a photoshoot, whatever hair stylist you have on set is going to understand her hair texture,” she says.

“Or whatever makeup artist you have on set, knows how to work with her beautiful skin,” Mtakwa says.

Diversity “is regard for our culture and our differences, and understanding that we deserve just as much thought and planning.”

‘Things in Common’ will act as a central hub for the black community and future generations.

“We wear it on our chest. We want our community to feel like they own something within this and feel proud to own it,” Duncan says.

Mtakwa feels “a huge responsibility and need to look after my community and black creatives. They’re not just a client to us. We’re invested in watching them succeed and grow.”

One of their models, Zimbabwean-born Kudzai Mafi, says “it’s refreshing to have a space where you can express what it really means to be a black creative.”

“I never felt like I could have that space to become comfortable and just be me. When you’re trying to fit into the mainstream industry, it can be very limiting and you don’t have that room to be authentic to your craft,” she says.

“This is history in the making. We are rebranding, dominating and rewriting the narrative of what creativity looks like.”

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