EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MODEL SCOUT JORAM JOB MUZIRA
Name: Joram Job Muzira
Job Description: Creative Director/CEO Joram Model Management
I met Joram at the Joram Model Management offices at Tirupati Mall on a sunny Wednesday morning. From the moment I saw him, I knew that he was not an ordinary person because of the way he greeted me like we were old friends and the immediate ease I felt around him, his aura couldn’t be faked or learned and I knew that I was in for a good story. Joram is the force behind international models including but not limited to Aamito Lagum, Sarah Aliet, Paul Mwesigwa, Winnie Aketch, Ayak Veronica, Akello Patricia, and Ashanti & Victoria Biong.
After losing his parents at an early age, his life took a dramatic shift. Joram was removed from the wonderful life his parents had created for him and his siblings and they were moved between relatives but Joram had an inner fire within him that got him through the different seasons of his life that pushed and groomed him to be who he is today.
Although Joram studied Urban Planning at the university, his desire was to be a fashion model, a dancer, and therefore his relentless passion positioned him to become Uganda’s number one model scouter.
Joram’s story is that of resilience and going after what you want fiercely even when you’re misunderstood you stay on the path to your dreams.
You can have everything and in one second you can lose it all, therefore I don’t let fame get to my head because any minute anything can happen. The minute you start to feel like you have arrived then no one wants to work with you. There’s nothing to teach someone who thinks they have arrived therefore humility is a great asset in this industry. Joram Muzira
- How long have you been in your career? And why did you choose the modelling and fashion world?
I am 8 years into this industry, we started Joram Model Management in 2012 and we will be celebrating 10 years in 2022. Modelling is a very hard industry and people are not fully open to it because they do not understand it. But it is life changing being a part of someone’s story and seeing them grow, and make a living out of a hobby. This industry is life changing and I get to witness and be part of their different stories. These girls are sending their families to school, putting up structures in their villages and growing confident as well. The industry has changed so many of their stories, and it’s wonderful to behold.
My first job was a waiter but I got promoted very fast because I am a hard-worker and I used to put on small shows at the restaurant and at the same time, I used to intern a lot with several designers, steam clothes for them and position myself to be of use to them. I wanted to be many things, a dancer, a model but it almost feels like scouting models chose me and in hindsight I had been preparing for this my entire life.
- How did you get to such a big step of your career being a young scout in an upcoming industry in Uganda?
I used to frequent African Woman Magazine offices a lot because I wanted to be a model. I caught the attention of this lady called Brenda Nanyonjo (now in charge of Miss Uganda) who saw that although I loved modelling, physically I didn’t have what it took to be a model because I was skinny and lanky. Therefore, she asked me if I could help them scout for girls because I had interest in the industry. Every tall girl I saw at the university, I sent them to African Woman and some of the girls were booked for work and some were signed to Zipa Models. I literally have all the issues of African Woman because I used to admire them and was inspired by them.
On one of my visits to African Woman, Sylvia Owori took notice of me and she called me into her office and that moment opened so many doors for me. Sylvia Owori was the Anna Wintour of Ugandan fashion at that time and her taking notice of me was a complete dream come true. I cried meeting Sylvia Owori because I couldn’t believe that this meeting was actually happening. She asked me, ‘what do you have to offer?’ I answered, ‘EVERYTHING.’
I had watched every episode of America’s Next Top model while taking notes, the making of Miss Universe, Face of Africa, spent hours on Fashion TV… I just had all these notes ready. All the binge watching paid off and it was my turn to show what I could do. She asked me to find 60 amazing models and we were on the streets looking frantically for girls. 600 people showed up at the day of the audition and the entire Garden city mall was filled with aspiring models. I had more than met the expectations. I produced and managed that particular show and it was my first time running things relying on the knowledge I had accumulated over time and I did all of it for free. It wasn’t about the money at all. I was just happy doing something I enjoyed and was passionate about.
An encounter with Sylvia led me to meet Franca Sozzani (RIP) Editor in chief Vogue Italia and Jan Malan, International Fashion Producer and Adele Dejak jewellery designer who actually introduced me to the business side of being a booker and having a proper scouting/model agency.
- What do you like about scouting? What do you look for?
We scout once a year and get 20 faces that we groom and develop and from those 20 models, we send out 5/6 to the international level. It’s hard getting there because it’s a competitive industry as well because you have your models competing with so many models on the international scene. You have to be mentally ready to work in this industry because there’s a lot of rejections therefore I tell the girls to be strong both mentally and emotionally and we prepare them as best as we can to set them up for success because the world is unfortunately filled with mean people.
I enjoy teaching the models how to present themselves, how to walk, how to let their personalities shine through and how to be confident. Dreams are so valid, it’s hard when someone just says that but if you put in the work it is so worth it. I love being able to be part of someone’s life, and watch the girls walk these big shows. It is so fulfilling to me.
We look for people who are unforgettable but after that, we are after people who can put in the work and who are willing to chase after their dreams.
I tasted the temptation of New York City and honestly, I felt at home there and even though I had some agencies ask me if I would consider settling in New York and being a booker and scout for them, I was thinking about the work that still has to be done at home, the dreams of so many of these talents that my journey is still tied to. We now have 12 international models from Uganda, and we have a goal, which is to have 50 Ugandan international models, and that vision has to be fulfilled.
Let us now explore you beauty routine and have a day in the life of Joram.
- What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you get the full 8 hours or just enough sleep to get you through the day?
I wake up, meditate, and pray. I have this huge mirror in my room, like really, really big. I stand in front of it and then I start speaking to myself. I tell myself what I want to achieve in my career, what shows I want to be part off, that I see myself doing major works in Milan, New York, Paris, Johannesburg, Cape Town, all the biggest fashion capitals of the world. I believe in affirmations and appreciating myself. I tell myself that I am amazing, I am great, and I like to appreciate myself. People are very good at bashing and I have had a fair bit of that via social media so this is important to me.
- What is your typical morning beauty regimen and what beauty product is on heavy rotation?
I love to create my own masks. I get honey, sugar and then sometimes I just put in coriander, crash them together and use that as a facial scrub. For my body I use this Japanese body scrub Asantee and I use Vaseline body lotion. It does the job.
- What do you do with your hair and what products do you use?
I use this hair spray, stylin’ dreads and because we live in a hot country it’s all I use in my hair but I go to the salon every single week to wash and lock the hair.
- What do you consider to be your signature beauty look aka unmistakably Joram?
My signature look is standing out. I hate blending in. I am super daring, especially when I have events I just go all out. I love to look clean but still extremely daring. I don’t like to be at an event and then look like a thousand people. I need people to recognize that I was there.
- What’s your signature scent and why did you choose that scent or those scents?
I love Hugo Boss. I am so in love with Hugo Boss. I am super, super obsessed and it smells so good.
- What sets your heart on fire? Like why do you wake up in the morning and do the things that you do?
The biggest thing that sets my heart on fire is to be part of someone’s success story because I believe in seeing other people succeed, when they succeed I feel so good. Just discovering a young boy, a young girl and witnessing that transformation, is one thing that excites me. It is life changing.
- What are you listening to or what are you reading?
I am super obsessed with Beyoncé. I love brown skin girl, it’s an anthem and I listen to it everyday and I play it for my girls as well, simply because my girls go through a lot of bashing. When they are here locally, they don’t appreciate them, they consider them to be ugly, and internationally they are celebrated. Also Susana by Sauti Sol super obsessed!
At the moment I am reading – “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Teaches a lot about business, learning how to be an entrepreneur. The whole book is about turning your passion into a business. I invest a lot in reading, that’s why I have so many magazines, I am always online just reading and looking for what’s going to inspire me.
- Highest point in your career?
The biggest, highest point was when I was awarded Star Maker at Abryanz Fashion Show Awards. Actually, the first point was Aamito Lagum winning Africa’s Top Model, because it changed everything and then getting the Star Maker Award and also just having all these amazing Ugandan models around the world walking shows.
- Lowest point in your career?
When I lost my parents in 1994. It was a terrible, terrible year.
- Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
This one time we had an event and I wore a cloak, and it was like a priest’s cloak. It was burgundy, and when I was coming to the event I was so worried because I didn’t know what people were going to say. The minute I stepped out onto the carpet I felt like I couldn’t do it but I told myself to keep going. The media went on about it the next day but I did it.
The other scary thing was opening this office space. The responsibilities that come with running a proper office is a lot but to grow big we have to get out of our comfort zone.I was very scared but it’s one of those bold moves that we have taken.
- Best career advice you’ve ever received?
Stay humble, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter how much fame you have, it doesn’t matter how many people you’ve met in your life, it doesn’t matter how many countries you’ve been to. Always stay humble and always act stupid.
- Last thing you do before bed?
I am always on my phone…like always on my phone. And then I pray. I am a very spiritual person so when I am done with the phone, I will definitely be praying.
- A statement or quote that inspires you
‘Fight for your space’ I invented that one and I believe nothing is just handed to you, you have to take it.
As told to EOK
26th February 2020
JMM – Tirupati Mall