Thursday, September 28, 2023

South African Model Refilwe Modiselle Speaks on Living & Modelling with Albinism on CNN’s African Voices

Last week, on CNN’s African Voices, South African model, Refilwe Modiselle was featured speaking on the challenges she faced as an albino model working the fashion industry.

Albinism, a genetic condition caused by a lack of the pigment, melanin in skin, hair and eyes, has a number of prejudicial connotations across different African nations, some of which result in albinos being hunted and killed.

The twenty-eight-year-old model, who regularly features on current affairs shows as a panelist, has been causing quite a stir in the fashion scene since she got her her first taste of the industry at age thirteen, modelling for a youth magazine’s spread that aimed to exhibit the changes in the African fashion landscape back in 1999. Ms Modiselle has gone on to find herself in magazines and on catwalks at Mercedez Benz Africa Fashion Week and across the world, where she has had positive and negative experiences as an albino.

Refilwe Modiselle walking for David Tlale at MBFWA
Refilwe Modiselle walking for David Tlale at MBFWA

Speaking on albinism and the fashion industry, the model told CNN;

“People with albinism are often not given the opportunity to get into such industries because we’re not known as extroverts, we’re not given a chance to be identified in society as people who have the potential to represent something.”

The South African model, who was born in Soweto but grew up in Johannesburg also spoke about her struggle with identity, explaining;

“South Africa has a history of apartheid, where race is such a big segregation. How do you then place yourself? You are a girl who is born in a black society: the township. And now, you have to fit into a world where you’re told: this is black, this is white and you’re in a country that is constantly fighting these aspects. It’s something that is not easy because people try and place you and identify you in a specific way.”

See below for Refilwe Modiselle’s three-part segment on CNN African Voices – a compelling watch and great insight into the industry from the perspective of a model with a truly unique beauty;

Video & image source:,


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