MUM-of-one Sarita Jack is practising her poses with her three-year-old daughter Teiarra to prepare for the finals of the Top Model of Colour competition. The Greater Leys resident is now one of 25 finalists in the worldwide competition to find the best non-white model. Miss Jack, 26, who is of black Caribbean heritage, beat thousands of hopefuls and is now up against women from across the UK and Africa for the top spot.
She said: “I came fourth in the popularity contest on Facebook so I'm in the finals. “Next month I’m going to meet all the other girls in London and we’re all going to have a big photoshoot and rehearsal. “Then out of that the judges will choose the winner and announce it in May. “It’s so exciting but I’m really nervous.”
With her daughter, mum Corrine and younger sister Natalia cheering her on, Miss Jack is eager to make the most of the opportunity. She said: “My family are so excited. Natalia is only 23 and she’s like my manager, always encouraging me to get involved with stuff. “This is a huge opportunity, I’m always taking selfies and I’d love to get into commercial modelling. “My dream is to do cosmetics adverts and things, I’m a really big fan of beauty products and would love to do that. “I’m so grateful to my family and friends for supporting me. I wouldn't be where I am without them.”
Miss Jack’s first experience of commercial modelling came when she was 16, even appearing in a Nivea magazine campaign. She said: “I was signed by Elliott Brown Agency in Botley. They wanted me to go full-time but I was doing my GCSEs at Oxford School and I wanted to finish my education. “I didn’t go back to modelling until I was 18, when I paid £500 for a photoshoot in London. “When I tried to use the pictures I was told that they were not professional quality. That knocked me back a lot and I thought I wouldn’t bother any more. “Then when I had Teiarra I wanted to focus on motherhood. That was more important for me.” But after her daughter started nursery at Pegasus Primary School, Miss Jack decided to try again and entered the competition last month.
It is run by London-based Mahogany Model Management, which hires models who are of African, Caribbean, Asian or Hispanic descent. The international modelling contest is now in its ninth year and is open to male and female models aged between 16-26 from across the world. It was set up to boost the careers of non-white models and encourage advert producers to use more models of colour in the industry.
The competition’s founder Sola Oyebade said: “Based on the modelling industry in the UK and across the world currently, there is no doubt that the industry generally has not yet realised, or is not yet willing to accept the need for employing and using more models of colour in their advertising campaigns.”
The winner will get a contract with Mahogany Model Management, as well as getting to keep their photographs and receiving beauty and fashion products.
Miss Jack said: “If I won it would really let me believe in myself. I want to teach my daughter that if you want anything you have to work hard for it.”