When meeting Bahamas born, top international model, KAMELA FORBES, the first thing that captures you is her raspy, seductive voice. “Its very interesting, it’s a lot deeper than usual. I didn’t like it for a while but a lot of people comment on it, the older I get I’ve embraced it more. Who knows? One day it can be another money-making tool,” said the 5’10” beauty as she made her rounds in New York City. Her model story is one of change, travel and maximum exposure all taken in stride and always proud of her Bahamian up bringing and culture. The busy model has been living and working in the US for a number of years. She officially got her start as one of the 12 star models of the famous Ebony Fashion Fair that toured the US each season, working in a different city each day for the show that raised US$55 million for the United Negro College Fund.
“We toured to 189 cities in nine months on a bus all over the U.S. For the first three months we rehearsed every day right before each show. It was hectic and it was my introduction into the modeling world,” recalled Kamela who now resides in New York and is signed to MC2 Model Management. She was recently featured in the January 2010 issue of Essence Magazine in a four-page fashion spread. Kamela is also the face of New York design house Lafayette 148 as their `look book’, website and campaign model.
Born in Nassau, Kamela attended St Anne’s high schooland the College of the Bahamas before migrating to the US where she attended the University of North Carolina. She obtained her degree in Business Administration and wanted to become an accountant. “I worked for the accountant firm of Ernst & Young for three years after college, then auditioned in Chicago for the Ebony Fashion Fair and got called back right away and that’s how I got started”, recalled Kamela.
“After Ebony Fashion Fair, I’d pretty much see everything I wanted to see in every state and I decided to go to Los Angeles and experience the reality of going up against a lot of other girls to book real modeling jobs. I was going on open calls and Otto Models wanted to sign me. I went to an audition for them and booked a job. I stayed with them for three years. I booked the Motorola Campaign and did a lot of catalog work as well as magazine editorials for King, Muscle & Fitness, and also did the Wella Campaign and toured with them as well. Kamela, who works the shows during New York fashion week, admits a preference to working the runway as opposed to photo shoots. “I like the thrill of the people being there and that gives me a rush, something happens backstage that changes your whole personality and I become someone else. When doing photos there is an element of that but it’s between you and the photographer and the crew, but its not the same like the rush you get on the runway,” said Kamela. Her favorite fashion designers are Ralph Rucci who she recently became the muse of the House. Ralph is the designer for the popular line Chado and is a staple on the New York fashion scene. His shows are hailed as the best in terms of design sensibility and creativity each season. “I’ve never seen anybody with that passion for what he does.” She also loves the work of J. Mendel
Coming back to the Bahamas is always special for Kamela. As a kid, she always spent summers in Eleuthera at a place called Rock Salt where my father is from. Home last Christmas, Kamela said her tr
ip to Eleuthera brought back so much memories. She revealed that the one place she tells people who visit the Bahamas to experience is the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. “Its amazing because the Caribbean side is very calm with not a ripple as opposed to the Atlantic side.”
What’s the future for this Bahamian Ambassador of fashion & beauty? “I actually want to be doing something in the Bahamas, like owning a mother agency. I love the fact that I went to college and got my degree.
In this industry, you can get lost and I’ll love to groom young girls who are starting out. And teach them the business of the fashion industry…. Advice? If modeling is something you really, really want to do, be careful and be smart. Try to find role models and people who have been in the industry for advice. There is an image that you have to uphold and decisions to be made of how you want to represent yourself. You have to be very aware and keen on all these small details.”
By Walter Greene | Photographed by Donn Thompson | Published in Profiles98 Magazine – Spring 2010 issue 3