The Beya Model Academy is an up-and-coming modelling agency that celebrates the diversity that comes with natural beauty all around Australia. Since its establishment in 2016, Beya has not only held continuous fashion shows around Perth, but has also taken part in the Vancouver Fashion Week, and is now set to storm the catwalk at Perth’s upcoming Telstra Fashion Festival where top modelling agencies such as Chadwicks and Viviens are set to perform.
First founded by accomplished model Astrid Tshidibu, Beya sets out not only to diversify the modelling field, but to support and foster the talent of future models working within Australia. It is Beya’s firm belief that anyone can be a model, regardless of the standard beauty expectations set by most industries. Where some might say no, Beya says yes. It is, as Beya would say, most important to just “Be-yourself”.
Beya Academy offers a ten-week course to help ready its students for their final exam, which requires them to walk in a fashion show. Students first undergo an introduction class before moving onto fitness, beauty, confidence, and cat-walk classes. Half-way though the course, students are then introduced to the photoshoot where they are then able to put their skills to work in a weekly photoshoot with a team of professionals. Beya also takes great care in considering their student’s mental health and offers a counselling class, where they can ensure their institute provides the support necessary to see that their students are well on the inside as well as the outside.
Part of what makes Beya Modelling Academy different from other academies around Australia is their ability to go beyond the expected criteria. Many join the academy just for the self-confidence they feel they earn from the classes. In particular, students are not separated based on their ability to perform. Instead, they are merged together in classes, both amateur and professional, to learn and benefit from each skill set the other might have to offer. High-level students with unbeatable egos have to learn to work as a team; amateur students are to gain a more confident persona from their talented counterparts. It is through designs like this that Beya pushes the boundaries on standard modelling academies, treating all students as equals within the course.
Charged by the determination of their founder, Astrid Tshidibu, Beya is set to keep reaching new levels for itself as a model academy and agency. Tshidibu, after years of modelling, felt a strong need to give back to the community as a trailblazer for talent where other Perth modelling communities might otherwise not feel obliged. The idea behind Beya is that they’re not wanting to change their students, but to accentuate their natural beauty and teach them how to grow as models.
“When I first started modelling, no one was willing to present me because there’s no market for black models here in Perth or in Australia – or in the general fashion industry, if we go deeper,” said Tshidibu. “I started modelling with a lot of challenges – things like how the makeup artists didn’t know how to deal with my skin; they didn’t know how to deal with my hair.”
“I thought to myself, ‘okay, many more girls are going to go through that: I have to do something. I have to change something’. This is why I created a model agency and academy that can prepare these young people, where they can learn confidence, and where I can be directing them on the value of life, and to start to love the modelling industry, and not to go through what I went through.”
The tireless devotion that Tshidibu puts into Beya plays a large part in her organisation’s current success. Because of the care Tshidibu puts into her models, her students strive to work harder for her. Both Tshidibu’s inspiring journey as a model and her dedication to her students see that her models respect her and work to go far in the modelling industry. Even something as simple as acting as chaperone for an underage student after class has Tshidibu go that extra mile.
Much of the work of a director, goes completely undiscovered beyond the photoshoots, weekly classes, and fashion shows. Tshidibu not only acts on the formalities of being a director, but must also be a role model, friend, and business partner to her students. On one occasion, Tshidibu was even called upon to discourage a teenage student from getting a tattoo.
Shortly after the end-of-the-semester fashion show, coming August 27th, Beya will soon determine the “Face of Beya”. Tshidibu makes a point of mentioning the importance of diversity within the modelling field. Regardless of the person’s physical appearance, what’s most important, Tshidibu said, is that they “can go and kill it” as a model. While the decision will be made by sponsors, and not Beya themselves, Tshidibu puts across what they will be looking for: “Someone who’s confident, who’s diverse, and has got everything they have learned in this course to really bring them forward. Glamour. Class. Intelligence. All the qualities that a model needs to have.”
Students will also have the chance, on the night of the fashion show, to showcase their talents to an audience of family, friends, and potential future connections. “It’s a kind of exam,” said Tshidibu. “The exam being putting on a fashion show in front of everyone…
…In front of their parents, friends, clients, makeup artists, and hairstylists who come and see them. So, it’s like a little exposure. Everyone can see them because they’re upcoming models, and what we’re doing is a fashion show with music, entertainment, photos, runways…”
“And I’m going to mix them with some other models outside the classes for them to really do a proper show. I believe I can’t just finish a course and say ‘okay, we’re finished, we’ve done the photoshoot’. I have to tick each box listed that the fashion industry requires. So, the fashion show is part of that. And this term is actually really exciting because we’re going to choose the Face of Beya.”
Beya’s participation in WA’s biggest fashion show, Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, happening September 6th through to the 17th, has also stirred some excitement amongst the academy, with event organisers even willing to cast some of their students in the shows. Tshidibu has great confidence that Beya and their models will amaze at the festival and in the ongoing future. With their current steamroller accomplishments so far as a fledgling model academy, much can be expected for the future of Australia’s model industry.
Astrid Tshidibu is a widely connected and established model in the Perth fashion community currently directing the Beya Model Academy/Agency. Reining originally from the Congo, Tshidibu later moved to Germany when she was ten, before moving to Australia in 2008 to continue pursuing modelling. Tshidibu has accomplished many things in her short time in Australia, such as winning the title of Miss Personality at Miss Africa 2010, and being in the Face of Africa in 2015. It was in July 2016 she opened the Beya Model Academy/Agency: the first WA model academy to go international and to enter the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2017. She is now working on different projects such as starting up a clothing label and opening a kids’ modelling academy.