MULTI award-winning model-cum-filmmaker Melgin Tafirenyika has decided to quit modelling after a decade to concentrate on filmmaking. Tafirenyika, who needs no introduction in both the modelling and film industry, has featured in over 20 television and print commercials within the southern African region.
the style interview with Winstone Antonio
The Chitungwiza-bred filmmaker featured in several South African television productions that include Isidingo, Game Mates, Twist and Strike Back, and has done several music videos and advertisements with renowned companies.
The Standard Style reporter Winstone Antonio (WA) caught up with Tafirenyika (MT), who said it has been an exciting and frustrating 10-year journey in the modelling industry. Below are excerpts from the interview.
WA: You have been in the modelling industry for over a decade. Why did you decide to quit now?
MT: I have decided to quit as l felt that modelling has a certain age and I had wanted to stop modelling at the age of 30 to give the young stars a chance. It was not an easy journey in the modelling industry since a lot is required, among them good skin, height and body weight. I will miss modelling since that was the only profession that was putting food on my table. However, I am so happy at becoming a fulltime movie director, having noticed that there are big deals waiting for us outside the country.
WA: Can you say you have achieved what you wanted in the modelling industry?
MT: I have not achieved what I wanted in modelling. My journey has just started now; ever since I was young my vision was to become an international actor and I am now chasing my dream.
WA: After a lot has been said about male models, among them name calling, how best can you describe the male modelling industry?
MT: Well, I guess it is a two-way traffic. Modelling is not for the faint-hearted; many people do modelling thinking that it is an easy way of making money. But I should say modelling is one of the most cruel industries in the world. You can work and never get paid. As a male model, you need to have a great body, height, proper grooming and be physically fit to battle with other fine hunks. For instance, to do one advert they would audition more than 100 people from which they select one person.
WA: A decade is not a joke, where have you been getting the inspiration?
MT: My uncle Masimba has been my role model and pillar of strength, so we have a motto that says “Never look at the pain, but look at the prize”. Many people do not realise that in modelling you work for your name first and that is the reason why many fail in the industry.
WA: What were the best and embarrassing moments of your modelling career?
MT: My best moments was when l started shooting billboards in South Africa and seeing myself shooting big adverts for African countries and not forgetting being paid to smile. The down moments comes especially when you are short-listed for an advert that cost half a million rand and it’s only the five of you and being told by rumours that they need a South African citizen.
WA: What advice can you give to aspiring male models?
MT: l felt it was long overdue because it was not easy for the past 10 years being in the modelling industry. To the aspiring models, making a name in arts it’s not that easy, but one needs to work hard, be humble and have determination because modelling is a cruel industry. However, if other people can make it, it means you can also make it. So, don’t hesitate to take the challenge.
WA: You will now be concentrating on film, what is your take on the local film industry?
MT: Our film trade is as good as dead. However, as filmmakers, we cannot do it on our own; we need the government to come and help us. I believe there is talent in Zimbabwe, but when was it last discovered? When was it last nurtured? This year my passion is to push to shape our industry because we love it and we must rescue it from the intensive care.
WA: What do you think must be done to improve the face of our film industry?
MT: A lot needs to be done in our Zimbabwean film industry. l have heard a lot of filmmakers and actors crying about funding, but the truth of the matter is that when you make a movie it should be creative. So, first we need to shift our minds from money and concentrate more on improving our craft and money will come. That is the same reason why the children of Israel reached the Promised Land, because of patience. As Zimbabwean filmmakers, we need to change our mindsets.
WA: How many productions are under your belt?
MT: I started directing movies last year, but so far I have directed six films, one music video and an advert. This year as Light Image, our target is to produce seven movies.
WA: What are some of your forthcoming productions?
MT: I have finished shooting a short film titled Flowers of Dry Thorns and we are in the process of negotiating better deals with other countries. I am also busy completing writing my new film called Girls dze H-town.