Award-winning brainy beauty pushes catwalk dreams


She made headlines for winning an award at the 2019 President’s Day Competition (PDC) fashion show in the female modelling category last month.

Now 23-year-old model Thanolo Keutlwile, who is also a medical student at the University of Botswana, is aiming to continue to showcase and celebrate the creativity and diversity of African fashion.

With her roots being in Thamaga, Keutlwile has set her eyes on international stardom and wants to become a supermodel one day.

Every model wants to strut on top designer catwalks, get featured in top magazine covers, and feature in the best commercials. Keutlwile has been intrinsically involved with the planning of her own big break in the modelling industry.

But what distinguishes Keutlwile from many of her contemporaries is how she raced to be the first at this year’s PDC fashion show. She has been using fashion as the gateway to unlocking doors. With a cadre of models looking to make impressions, she moves in ways never really seen before in fashion.

These days every step on the ramp has to be an Instagram moment, so Keutlwile is one of those models who think about that.

At the PDC fashion show she was well received by fashion insiders and most of them had been longing for something new and refreshing in the local fashion scene.

Having forged through against all odds, her big break has not come yet but one cannot help but wonder; when is it going to happen?

Keutlwile told Arts & Culture this week that the PDC award symbolises capability entrenched in originality and hard work.  She pointed out that she has always had doubts, especially with regards to her height, being 1.75m, which happens to be the cut off for model castings internationally.

 Keutlwile said the award came as motivation to be consistent and keep focus on her strong points as well as detach from negativity coming by way of things she cannot control.

Keutlwile also said that being one of the still growing models she values each step she conquers along the way. Keutlwile believes she could become the best version of herself, which is fearless and unstoppable. 

The confident young model added that through her line of work, she has also learnt to develop a thick skin and continue working hard to leave a mark.

“I believe I’m yet to become the greatest model doctor there is, which is one of those rare moments,” she said.

The stunning model said her career started in December 2016 and that it has been nothing but a blessing thus far.  She has managed to emerge victorious in different shows including being in the Top 3 model at the regional and national PDC modelling fashion shows in 2017, being best model at Masa Square Hotel fashion show in 2017 and being best model at Fashion Without Borders fashion show in 2018.

Keutlwile added that she has had the privilege of being spotted by one of the best agencies in South Africa, Boss Models JHB. She added that she has worked with ISIS models SA in partnership with Juice Promotions Model Management in the 2018 Africa Fashion International.

Keutlwile mentioned that she has also done promotional shoots for most local designers and creatives such as GIBELICIOUS, House of Noir, Kanyo M, Delayna Scott, Media Republic, Back to Black, David Billboard, Mazid, Peter Yuri, and Giancarlo Calameo LaGuerta.

The beauty with brains stated that being a medical student, the start was unbearable, as her family could not understand her reasons for this path. “They feared that I would lose focus.”

However, through her consistency from both sides they got to accept that she was passionate and focussed enough to make responsible decisions.

Keutlwile was quick to acknowledge her main source of motivation as her mother. “My mother had to drop out of school at an early stage as a first born to help raise her siblings. But nonetheless she remained the most hardworking woman I have ever seen. She is my true inspiration and source of ‘anything-is-possible’,” she said.

Moreover, she expressed that most International Botswana Models are worth admiring adding that the likes of Kaone Kario, Thabang Molotsi and Serge Kabisoso are pushing the industry on a daily basis. She said they are also paving the way for most upcoming models.

“Giving up is never an alternative. There is still hope for the modelling industry to grow in Botswana as a lot of creatives are blooming,” she said.  The exotic beauty is now one of the most promising models and it is not hard to see why. If she continues to deliver powerhouse performances she might soon accompany famous models down Europe’s catwalks.

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