There was a time when girls would feature on music videos for free. At the time, it was all about being seen around celebrities and enjoying the trappings of association that come with it in the showbiz world. Today, the video vixen business is a money-spinner that has modelling agencies and freelance models making good returns from artists. On average, a video vixen is paid Sh20,000 for appearing on a video, if they are playing a major role. Others get about Sh5,000 depending on the musician behind the project. Although what vixens do is controversial in some quarters, the role they play in music videos is an important one. They are part of a multimillion-shilling industry, but rank among the lowest earners, except for a few.
When the Gengetone sound hit, one face that became a staple of almost all the songs was Becky’s. With her trademark long, faux dreadlocks, pretty face, saucy dressing and twerking skills, Becky steadily rose to become one of the biggest video stars in Kenya. To cement her legacy, she won the award for Video Vixen of the Year at Pulse Music Video Awards (PMVA) in 2019. She has long ditched the craft and is now a full-time DJ. “For one video I would charge around Sh15,000, although in this industry there are some unprofessional vixens who actually do it for free. But I stopped the trade since most artistes hawafiki bei,” she says. She adds; “Furthermore, the music scene is full of weirdos. I was once taken to a police station by one of the producers because I had rejected his advances.”
The 2021 PMVA is back and vixens namely; Gigi, Lynn, Alex Mathenge, Miss Mukai, Michelle Ntalami and Phoina will be battling out for the ultimate prize. Miss Mukai, who has been nominated for featuring in Mr Seed’s Dawa ya Baridi single has been honing her craft for the past five years and as they say, she is ageing like fine wine. “At first I was nervous, but as time went by, I managed to control myself and perfect my skills. This whole idea started as a joke, but I later realised it is a venture I can make a career,” says Miss Mukai who also doubles as a commercial model. For a shoot, Miss Mukai charges between Sh15,000 and Sh25,000, depending on the role. “In this industry, a lot happens and mostly vixens are portrayed as s3x symbols, which is not the case. Maintaining your dignity sometimes proves a hard nut to crack as some artistes give you a job in return for s3xual favours,” she says.
“This industry is full of flaws, and at times I turn down job offers. For instance, an artiste or director approaches me with their budget which does not suit me and since I have my own rate card, I end up turning down many video shoots, so they term you as proud or maringo to other people. They fail to understand I am also a business lady and this is business; so it also has to make business sense for me.” Gigi who is also nominated for featuring in Otile Brown’s music video That’s why I love you. Besides video modelling, Gigi is an entrepreneur. She is the founder and proprietor of Valor Beauty Care, where she specialises in beauty products such as lashes, lip glosses and skincare products.
“I have always loved music; I literally get high on music. Being a model, opened up a lot of doors for me as I did runways, pageants and commercial modelling. Once I got into video modelling (vixen) and the key thing in this industry is to know your worth or rather your value then add tax. It is a good source of income, and that is how I got to invest revenue and build my beauty brand,” she says. While we are at it, you cannot spell beautiful or naturally gorgeous without mentioning Michelle Ntalami. When not behind her desk as a CEO, she also gets her creative juices flowing and has appeared in several videos among them, Freshy by Benzema, which earned her a nomination nod. Michelle is well known as the founder and CEO of Marini Naturals. Times have changed and male video vixens are also a thing now. In 2020, a male video vixen, Keith Chuaga, carried the day. This time around Alex Mathenge featured in Hivi na Hivo by Maandy is also set to battle it out in the field fronted as a female forte. Other vixens include Lynn from Willy Paul’s Odi Love and Phoina from Fena Gitu’s Vaccine.
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