This Valentine’s Day, we are professing our undying love to the fashion and style industry. If we could buy it chocolate truffles and a white as snow stuffed animal, we would! However, we are showing our love to fashion by celebrating Ghana’s biggest models, Belinda Baidoo. In celebrating this amazing woman, we found love! To all readers, Happy Valentine’s Day and a happier read!
Describe Belinda Baidoo in a word.
This was followed by a hearty laugh. “Amazing”, she said and laughed a bit more. “She’s amazing” We both laughed because she repeated in the third person speak. That’s always fun!
Did you always wanted to become a model or it happened by chance?
She dived right into it. “It happened by chance. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about modelling so it really just happened. The opportunity was given to me and I did use the opportunity well.”
Were you modelling before you won the Top Model Afrique contest in 1998?
“I did a bit of modelling for like three to six months” she said trying to be exact. “I don’t know if I can call that modelling but a friend of mine took me to an agency get my photo taken. You know, as teenagers, we’d do anything to occupy our time, to belong or to be liked.” She added, “I wouldn’t call that modelling. I don’t think so, maybe a bit of learning how to walk. Proper modelling started after I won the competition.”
How was the competition like?
Considering how long ago that was, I was curious. She had one word, GREAT! She added that going through the competition changed her life and made her the woman she was.
How did it change your life? Could you give us a sense of who Belinda was before winning?
“When I won the competition in ’98 my life changed in a lot of ways. The way I do things, the way I view things and I learnt a lot. Not selling things on the streets anymore was probably the biggest change. It really did change my life to for the best and that of my family’s. Before that, I was just a normal Ghanaian girl.
Can you tell us a little more about growing up?
“Growing up in Accra, Ghana, you know, normal childhood and simple home of 8, 2 brothers and 4 sisters (including myself). I was blessed to have grown up with an amazing father who turned out to be my stepfather. He was such a great man I couldn’t even tell he wasn’t my real dad. It’s a shame he’s not alive today to see me or my children.” She continued. “I was still very young when my stepdad lost his job and we had to move to a compound house in Santa Maria from our comfortable self-contained home. Things changed quite drastically. For my mother, it begun from having to learn how to cope with living with other women and sharing bathrooms and the like. For me, I had to start hawking whatever my mother gave me to sell after school. It was ether ‘bofrot’, chips, water or charcoal. Whatever she found at the market to enable put food on the table. It was tough for me because I was between the ages of 12 to 16. My mother always tried to find a way to put a smile on our faces. This is the same woman who would sew our clothes, give us a haircut because she couldn’t afford it.” She added that it was especially hard for her because the kids from her neighborhood were also her schoolmates. In retrospect, she cherishes that experience because it made her who she is today, a strong and resourceful woman.
How was it being in New York for the first time?
It was hilarious moment in the room because she mentioned that she wore kaba and slit sponsored by GTP to New York. “I traveled around October or November about 20 years ago. My entire family came with me to the airport. When we got to JFK it was freezing. My uncle gave me a coat that didn’t help much but it kept me warm. He also took me to the Bronx, you know every Ghanaian person knows someone at the Bronx. I didn’t achieve success as soon as I got to New York. It took some time. First of all, I was supposed to be with City Models in Paris but that didn’t work out after a couple for months so they sent me back home.”
She continued, “I lived with my cousins in Viginia and anytime they had the day off work or during the weekends, they’ll come with me to New York for open calls. I am really grateful to them for that. This went on for a while without any successes until a woman from Icon Models booked me. That changed my life. I got my one of my biggest jobs then”
For how long were you an international model?
It was absolutely fascinating to learn that she’s still a working model. “I still work. I am still sign to a number of agencies and I have few projects that are renewed every now and then.” She stated that being a full-time mother raising two kids in Ghana would simply not allow her to still do modelling full time.
What agencies are you signed to?
Of course, I had to find out what agencies she was signed to. “State Management New York in New York, LA Models in LA, Next in London and Women in Milan.”
How is the fashion/modelling scene now different from back in the day?
“Big change!” she blurted out! “Big change, for the better.” She went on to speak about the age of social media as opposed their age of polaroid being an advantageous tool girl can use to put themselves out there to be scouted as models.
Can you namedrop some of the girls you would work with back in the day?
“I wouldn’t like to mention a name or two because every girl that I have worked with, I loved and formed a great bond with. I have met girls from Kenya, Nigeria that have become like sisters to me and I never thought that could happen. For every woman I worked with, I learnt something from. For my journey as a model, I have always admired all the women I worked with so I wouldn’t want to mention names.” She did mention some pretty big names off the record though. I guess you might have to ask yourself over a glass of bubbly. Catch her at Beedagel Boutique!
You worked with big brands such as L’Oreal, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Victoria Secret, Nike, Clinique, Guinness and Motorola. How was the experience?
“The experience was amazing but it took hard work and not giving up. You know, you have to start from class one to progress to class six. Working with these big companies was great. I mean, when your agent calls you to inform you that you’ve been awarded that big contract, it’s such a great feeling.” It was refreshing to discover that she is still making money from some of the projects she worked on with these brands back in the day. Get your coins sis!
Did you meet anyone who inspired you?
“I would say the lady who signed me on Icon Models. Meeting her changed my entire narrative. A few people inspired me, especially working black models but this lady changed my life and that really inspires my outlook on life now”
Where there some low moments during your career as an international model?
“Of course, there were so many low moments. What do you do when you haven’t booked a gig in three to six months? You keep going for auditions, they tell you they’re going to get back to you, your agent tells you you’re their first option, you start building your hopes up until you get a call that tells you you didn’t get the job. Those were lowest moments.” She added, “Missing my family back home and feeling alone at certain times were also really hard moments for me.”
Tell us more about B2 Models and your foundation.
“B2 Models was set up to give back. It is my way of giving back the opportunity that was given to me to other girls. The only way I know how is through modelling. I also set it up to help the modelling industry in Ghana.” Here’s an exclusive, she and her team are working on a second cycle of her model search show. They now own the name and it’s going to be called “Top Model Africa” which is going to be bigger and better than the previous show. “I never really had the best education, my education ended at the JSS level, so my foundation is targeted at providing education for young girls. I started raising money for this course about 18 years ago while I was still in New York and the proceeds went to Maame Dokono’s “Odo ne Asomdwe.”
What are you working on currently?
“I still do modelling but not full time. Right now, you will find me at my boutique, Beedagel Boutique in Osu.” You got to plug yourself sometimes, not that we don’t already know about her boutique. “Beedagel is a combination of my name and that of my kids” She added with a smile.
Favorite local and international fashion designer.
“Christie Brown. Right now, I am in love with Maison Valentino’s couture show. It was amazing to see so many black girls in such a big show”
Describe your everyday look?
“Something simple, comfortable and chic”
Accessories you can’t go a day without.
What’s your go to make-up look?
“Basic natural make-up look”
What’s that one thing every woman should have in their wardrobe?
“The little black dress!”
What’s your favourite perfume?
“Serge Lutens. I also love the Chanel No. 5, they don’t make that anymore.”
Heels or flats?
“It depends, but I prefer heels”
Big red-carpet event. Sexy LBD or long sensual evening gown?
“I would definitely go for the little black dress and my high heels to show of my legs”
What trend would you rather we left behind in 2018?
“I am probably the wrong person to ask this question because I never really follow trends. I always do me. I’m not sure I know what was in style”
Which woman do you look up to?
“My mother. Because she taught me everything! Her strength was amazing, for her to have gone through what she went through, it’s incredible.”