You often see them sultrily staring into the camera or seductively moving along to the beat but have you ever spared more than a stereotypical thought for the video vixens featured in your favourite videos?
It’s actually quite a lucrative profession and there is more to it than looking pretty and walking around wearing next-to-nothing.
We recently had a lunchtime chat with Sutra - the owner of MS Management and Courtneigh Jacobs (one of South Africa’s hardest working vixens).
Sutra started out as a professional dancer (trained in contemporary and afro fusion) and unintentionally made her way into a career as a vixen. She has since produced videos for artists like Lynxx, Phyno, Don Jazzy, P Sqaured and WizKid.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a vixen, I loved it, it built so much confidence in me and it taught me how to say ‘no’ and to set boundaries.”
While on set, she would often be asked to find other pretty girls to feature in videos and decided to turn that into a business which was initially called Red Bottom Management.
“As a vixen, I really knew how to look after myself and rate myself but when I listened to all the other girls talk about how they only get paid R400, I just thought to myself, ‘they really need somebody to look after them, and why not me because I’m a pitbull?’ So I just started getting girls to come participate in shoots and it wasn’t serious…,” explained Sutra.
Courtneigh and Sutra started working together more and more and this gave Sutra the chance to see just how well Courtneigh understood the business.
Sutra then had to take a step back from being in front of the camera once her company started receiving more and more bookings. The increase in business also paved the way for her to become a video producer as well.
It wasn’t long before producing left little to no time for her to manage her agency so she handed the reigns over to Courtneigh, hoping that her keen understanding of the industry would help her take care of the MS Management girls. Courtneigh now plays the role of a managing agent.
The girls say getting clients to pay them is the hardest part of what they do.
“Most weekdays, I try fight for payments in the morning, I dedicate my grumpy morning energy to getting the payments because that’s when I’m really upset,” said Sutra.
Sutra recently produced two of Omarion’s latest music videos, one of which we’ll get to see in the next few weeks.
If, by now, you’re thinking Courtneigh looks familiar - you may have seen her in uSanele’s video for ‘Amabhodlela’, as well as Micasa’s ‘Barman’ and Kwesta’s ‘Nomayini.’
In addition to modelling and being an agent, Jacobs , acts, manages events and designs clothes. When she’s not working, she’s training towards perfecting her craft which includes taking vocal lessons, learning new languages and accents and receiving mentoring from more experienced actors, like Thabo Rametsi.
Acting is the talent she’s working hardest towards developing now and is currently under training at a very prominent talent agency. She is also filming a short film, details of which are yet to be released.
Shoot days usually have a call time of 8 or 9am so a typical day for Jacobs involves packing a bag the night before based on what she will need to bring with her as outlined in the client’s brief, getting her make-up done as soon as she gets to the set before either shooting her scenes or spending her time waiting for her turn to shoot.
“We work, we eat, we get paid, we bounce.”
Shoot days (for music videos) generally last about 10 hours, according to Jacobs. That’s a long time to wait considering the fact that most videos only last 3 to 5 minutes.
“My average day requires a lot of patience,” she said.
Despite all the waiting, Jacobs says what she enjoys most about the job is a lot of the behind-the-scenes fun that viewers don’t really get to see or hear about as well as all of the partying that happens.
“A lot of the artists that I have been fortunate enough to work with are amazing people. So I mean there’s drinks on set, there’s food and then it’s like ‘oh, you guys wanna stay? Let’s hang out a bit or we can go out,’ so you know we build relationships with these people,” explained Courtneigh.
“As much as we’re there to work, friendships do happen”
Another one of the not so fun parts includes clients who aren’t as cooperative as Courtneigh and Sutra need them to be, including not paying them on time or mistreating the vixens due to misconceptions surrounding their profession.
“You’ve got to learn to call them off and say no without closing those doors for future opportunities,” said Courtneigh.
Warning models about said difficult clients become tricky for them as MS Management because they don’t ever want to paint their clients in a bad light. So the onus falls on the model to know her personal boundaries and stick to them but they say they do try to teach them how the industry works in order to better equip them to make those decisions.
“The industry is small and if word gets around about the kind of person you are, that reflects badly on all of us. If you get caught up in it, you’re not going to last long.”
Speaking of personal boundaries, Courtneigh is a very vocal feminist, both online and in person.
“If there is something that I feel is not on par with my feminist thinking and my feminist way of living then I will be very vocal about it. I won’t disrespect you or be rude but I will let you know wassup,” she said.
That includes debunking the myth that vixens are easy or are in the industry to bag a rich and famous man.
“There’s a negative perception about vixens… that we’re just available for everyone, anytime on any day it’s the furthest thing from the truth. We’re all hardworking young women with a vision for our careers and for us, this is a stepping-stone to that. A lot of the girls are in school and this is their way of paying for fees. We’re not about that hoe life,” she added.