Patricia Akello breaks through to international modelling scene

From Uganda to South Africa and onto fashion runways in New York, Milan and Paris, model Patricia Akello speaks about growing her modelling career.

Patricia Akello during a photo-shoot. COURTESY PHOTO 

BY Esther Oluka


  • In 2014, Patricia Akello left Uganda for South Africa where she has been involved in a number of runway shows, shoots and campaigns. Three years later, the 24-year-old opens up about her breakthrough onto the international modelling scene. She now graces runways in fashion capitals around the world.


After you were signed by Fusion Model Management in South Africa, you left Uganda to start work. How has your career grown over the years?
It has grown immensely as I have had the opportunity to walk for several designers across the globe not only in South Africa but also in other countries and cities including Germany, Paris, New York, among others. I have also been lucky to work with numerous magazines from South Africa such as Elle, Marie Claire, and Club. Internationally, I have been part of editorial photo shoots for Vogue Italia andVogue Ukraine.
In addition, I have managed to appear on some magazine covers including Amica magazine and Skin magazine, among others. I am beyond grateful to God, my family, all the booking agencies that represent me, that is, Muse Model Management (New York), Fusion Model Management (South Africa), M4M (Germany), MP (Paris) and Joram Model Management (JMM), which is my mother agency back home in Uganda.

Of late, you have posted numerous photos on Facebook of yourself in New York. Did you eventually leave South Africa for New York?
I am currently based in New York, but, as a working model, I am always on the run, globe-trotting from one city to the other. So I occasionally go to Milan, Paris, Sweden, Germany and Cape Town for jobs when they come through.
I will also be working in London soon. I have different agencies in different cities which help me book jobs in various cities. They help me to keep in business. For any model to work internationally in various cities, they need the right representation with agencies.

Who are some of notable designers you have walked for in South Africa and New York?
In South Africa, I have walked for David Tlale, Fabiani, Leigh Schubert, Beach Cult by Joanna Hedley, Shana Morland, Ruff Tung, Marianne Fassler, and Gavin Rajah. The list is endless. In New york, I have walked for the Parsons 2017 benefit show, Thom Browne Fashion Week 2017 show, Naeem Khan Fashion Week 2017 show, and Zero + Maria Cornejo Fashion Week 2017 show, among others.
How did you become a part of music superstar, Rihanna’s beauty Fenty campaign?
My agency in New York gave me a call one day informing me about the campaign; Rihanna’s makeup collection that was going to feature models with a diverse range of skin tools. I was blown away. I was among 40 girls selected to be part of the campaign.
The feeling was breathtaking and humbling at the same time because this was a dream come true for me. I have also been lucky to shoot another beauty campaign for Becca cosmetics, also in New York City and another one for Mac cosmetics.
Every single campaign and job that comes through always blows me away because I believe in treating every single job with utmost professionalism.

What has been your most memorable fashion show to date?
To be honest, I love being on the runway; so all the shows have always been great for me. I feel alive each time I am on the runway doing what I love to do.
The rush of adrenalin is incomparable from one show to the other. The experiences are different and all life-changing. The level of professionalism that people invest in these shows is beyond amazing.

When do you see your loved ones back home?
I always ensure to come home at least once a year—every December when my New York agency gives me a holiday. Whenever I am away working, I keep in touch with family through social media, Skype and phone calls. Family helps keep me sane and emotionally ready for jobs.

What are your future plans in this industry?
I love modelling to bits and internationally, it is a business that can pay the bills and also a career that can make you millions of dollars and take you places.
I do not plan on retiring now. I would like to go on modelling for as long as I can. I am also investing in various businesses because with time, age catches up with you, especially in the modelling industry where new faces are constantly coming through.

Who is Patricia Akello?
Akello, 24 hails from Lukee clan in Pader District. She was born in Nsambya Hospital, Kampala, to the now deceased Santa and Patrick To-kema.
Akello went to Comprehensive College Kitetika in Wakiso District. After high school in 2011, she set out to find a modelling agency. In 2014, she met Stacie Aamito Lagum who had just flown back into the country after winning Africa’s Next Top model contest.
Akello was booked as one of the models for the show at Aamito’s welcome party. She was later signed up by Joram Muzira under his Joram Model Management agency.

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