North Londoner, Betsie Jane Dsane has modelled for a whole host of brands including DKNY, Vivienne Westwood, Giorgio Armani, Abercrombie And Fitch, Ben Sherman, H&M and La Perla. She has also been shot for the magazines ID, Cosmopolitan, Japanese Vogue and Elle and she was the face for Maxim’s 2005 calendar. More controversially, she caused a stir at the Urban Music Festival when apparently Jay-Z paid her a bit too much attention – much to the dismay of his then girlfriend Beyonce. The 5ft 11 beauty recently sat down with Flavour for a bit of a chat about Madonna, sports and backstabbing.
How did you get into modelling?
I got into modelling through my hairdresser who was Terry Jacques at the time. He was well connected in the industry and was a really good friends of Annette Russell [owner of So Dam Tuff model agency]. He made a quick phone call while he was doing my hair and said ‘After I’ve finished, I’m gonna send you down there and get you to meet her.’
Did you always want to model or was there something else?
No. Initially I wanted to be an athlete – that was my dream and I used to play lots of sports when I was younger. And then, I guess, when I started getting into my teens and taking more of an interest in myself I would sit and think, maybe I wouldn’t mind being a model.
What sports did you play?
Everything! I used to play netball, basketball, volleyball, football and do sprinting and swimming – I did a lot!
Is the model lifestyle as glamorous as it looks, or is there some hard working involved?
There are many answers to that. There’s hard work in the sense that it can be difficult to work with different people all the time and also when you’re doing shoots you do them for long hours, starting early in the morning and sometimes finishing late. Shooting summer wear in the winter? I’ve shot at temperatures close to zero and had to make it look like it’s summer! And there’s the travelling and being away from home, things like that. But you get used to that after a while. It’s not so bad.
Is the fashion industry as back-stabbing as it seems?
It does happen, but being a model you just have to learn to be strong and tough and not to take things so personally because everyone is critical. Sometimes your arms are too skinny or another model’s legs are too long or her nose is too big. There is always something! I was really shy when I was younger and that helped me to be tough and to be strong and not to take things to heart too much. Although you will sometimes, because naturally you’re human and you do get hurt by certain things.
Are there any models that you look up to or aspire to be like?
I love Naomi Campbell. We should all give credit where credit is due and she led the way as a black model. More power to her! I also really like Kate Moss and Alek Wek.
You’ve done acting in the past; can you see your career going that route in the next few years?
To be honest, acting was something I wanted to do first! I went to drama school and my teacher said that I should continue further, but my dad was like ‘No, you’re not going to do that.’ I do want to go further into acting, I’ve done a lot of TV lately and I love being on the TV! I’ve had some people behind me who are helping me with my acting so hopefully that’s where I’m going.
You were involved in the Madonna and H&M campaign recently. Did you get to work with Madonna?
I did! I was working alongside Madonna for three days.
What was she like?
Working with her gave me a real insight into true professionalism; the way she was can almost seem frightening. She was so precise and meticulous with what she wanted and how she wanted it and I just thought to be at the top you have to be that way. It was very interesting.
Finally, you have worked with a number of recognised brands and designers, what would you say is the secret to you success?
Determination, professionalism and having a real love for what I’m lucky enough do. I think it comes through.
Betsie has recently set up the Look Book Factory which provides aspiring models with useful tips and advice on becoming a model.
Words by Karla Williams
Betsie Jane Dsane courtesy of Charles and Ko Models www.charlesandkomodels.com