Ibrahim Van Den Berg, international model that has paraded for well known firms, such as Moschino, shares with us how he became a model and his experience in this industry. Sympathetic and fun Ibrahim tells us the work and negative aspects behind the catwalks and cameras.
Hi Ibrahim tell us a bit about your background and how you became a model…
I was born in Brussels, Belgium. My mum is half Dutch and half Zambian and my Dad is half Indian and half Malawi so I have quite a diverse family and I feel my heritage has given me more than one dimension to my outlook and personality. I was brought up by my mother mainly as they separated when I was young. Having a Christian mother and a Muslim father gave me a well-rounded religious education in my youth. My surname Van Den Berg comes from my mother’s side.
I became a model when I first came to London to study Business, Economics and Finance. Interestingly it was a girl I was seeing at the time that convinced me to take pictures of myself and send them over ModelsOne. They replied within the next week I had begun my career as a model. This was all before the beginning of my final year at University.
Your name I.V.D.B is really interesting tell us about your heritage and your name…
I predominantly have a Zambian influence and believe myself to be a very spiritual person with respect for all religions. The clothes I wear have a heavy spiritual influence, this is due to my grandmother and her roots in African spiritualism. This is out of respect and admiration for cultures because I am ethnically from a number of cultural backgrounds so I enjoy celebrating these backgrounds.
Did you always want to model?
To be honest I never wanted to be a model. When I was younger I never liked to be in photos. If there was a camera around I was usually the first person to hide. It was only when I started my career as a model that I grew more comfortable around cameras and started to accept the idea of getting my picture taken. In the end I did develop the enjoyment of being a model. At the start, though, it really was just a means to an end. A way to make money.
How did you end up in London?
I came to London originally to go to University after I finished high school in South Africa. When I finished my studies that I just mentioned, my parents gave me a choice; they told me I could either go to New York or London. I chose London because I feel it’s the better city out of the two. No offence to New Yorkers! I don’t know, I feel like London is a slower pace and the sort of city I could live in for a very long time.
What’s London like for modelling work compared to other cities around the world?
I have to say, I can’t really tell you what it’s like to be a part of a modelling agency all around the world because my agency is based here, in London. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have worked all around the world, beautiful cities like Rome and Barcelona, but I still stayed with the one agency I am with now so my only experience has been with that specific modelling agency. I have done a few jobs in South Africa through friends of my parents, but those were the only jobs I have done outside of my current contract. I have met agents from Paris, Milan and other major cities from all over the world and maybe one day they might actually sign me! But, work here has been going very well for the past 3 years.
What’s it like working as a model?
Working as a model is quite interesting because it’s perceived as being quite a glamorous job and a lot of people romanticise it and tell me how it’s such an interesting, cool-looking job. However, what most people don’t really think about is that it is a job, you do have to work and act professionally. It isn’t just chilling and sometimes having photos taken of you.
What’s the most challenging aspect of modelling?
Modelling is challenging because it does play on your mind and you are worried about how you are coming across. You have to interpret what people want from you, using your instincts to get it right without them properly expressing it. Obviously, you have to take direction but at other times what people want is never really that clear. I’d say treat it like a job because despite you being the centric focus of shoots, the client is the most important person in the room.