“The main goal is to break the stereotypes associated with people with disabilities in the fashion/entertainment industry and to pave the way for those to follow and succeed me.”
Those words come from Lebohang Monyatsi, the first South African woman in a wheelchair to be a runway model. Lebohang was born and raised in North West Province, in a small town called Vryburg.
She is recognized for representing her country in the field of Wheelchair Basketball. Lebohang is extremely passionate about the needs of children, disability inclusion and accessible features for all.
Tell us about your journey as a model, what made you fall in love with modelling?
I have always loved modeling. As a teenager, I did mostly pageants, but at some point, I gave up. This is because the fashion industry especially in South Africa, ignores diversity and inclusion. In SA, and other parts of Africa, many people have a belief that people who are differently abled are only good for office work or sport.
I intend on making people see that we are capable of doing other things. We have other abilities beyond sports activities and office work. I wanted to embark on this from a young age but couldn’t because of lack of opportunities for people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.Lebohang Manyatsi: I am work in progress and on the hunt for who I am yet to become Click To Tweet
What kept you going?
“Be the change you wish to see”, that quote keeps me going. I believe that whatever change you wish to see in the world, you should be the first one to act on it, lead by example.
As the first South African runway model to do so in a wheelchair, I believe my work speaks a lot of volumes.
What are your goals as a model?
My goals as a model are to do international modelling, to inspire/be a role model -especially to those who think “it’s not possible”.
In addition to those two, I want to open doors for others to follow and surpass me.Lebohang Manyatsi want to open doors for others with disabilities to follow and surpass her Click To Tweet
What have been your greatest accomplishments so far?
So far my greatest achievement is being a finalist for Face Of The Globe and of course modelling at Soweto Fashion week which appeared on Selimathunzi. Also, modelling at Maboneng Fashion week and GeeJunction Fashion show.
How do you define success?
For me, success means being very happy and content with what you do.Success means being very happy and content with what you do - Lebohang Manyatsi Click To Tweet
What do you think needs to be done to make the fashion/entertainment industry friendlier to disabled people?
People want to see diversity in the fashion/entertainment industry. The industry needs to keep this in mind and actively work towards being inclusive and diverse at all time.
What is your motto in life?
Be happy with what you have but never give up on what you want.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.