Nina Bola gained prominence during the Tusker Project Fame competition in 2009. She started a casting agency five years ago and through hard work and tenacity has steered the organisation to greater heights
Njeri Maina @njerimainar
Many know Nina Bola from Tusker Project Fame in 2009 where her sultry voice and soft- spoken demeanor moved millions. She continues to move many to better their capacity through talent management as well as through workshops hosted by her talent and casting company, Invogue Modelling.
The company aims to empower the community through the training and education of models by exposing them to commercial modelling jobs. It provides a platform for commercial talents to work on Kenyan brands as well as international brands.
“Our vision is to build a heritage of informed commercial models in Kenya, Africa and beyond. The industry is growing and the standards keep getting higher.
That is why I initiated the Invogue Masterclass, which aims to keep the models abreast with new developments and also share with other industry leaders on how best to get the Kenyan modelling industry to the world stage,” Nina explains.
Nina has a strong work ethic and a determination that one cannot help, but admire and be inspired by. Settling and being an entrepreneur in a foreign country is no mean feat. Born to a Rwandese mother and a Congolese father, she is by definition a Congolese and had to apply for dual citizenship.
When it was granted, she was able to run for Tusker Project Fame, a musical competition that had contestants from the EAC countries. Earlier, she had attended Cambridge College in Douala Cameroon to study Marketing and English for one year with the intention of coming to study in Kenya.
She came to Kenya, did an intensive two-month course in English literacy and grammar at the British Council Kenya and then joined Daystar University to do a major in Community Development and a minor in Public Relations.
“Getting a job was my top priority back then. I used to scan through the Yellow Pages, calling and emailing every company in there looking for work. Everyone I met was also a potential ‘job-opening’.
That is how I got my first interview through Alex Kamau, a director and editor in the film industry. I nailed the interview and started as a production coordinator at Ginger Ink Films,” she says.
Nina would later transition from Ginger Ink Films to Sounds and Pictures where she worked as a production Coordinator and Casting Director.
Through relentless hard work, she is today one of the best casting directors in the country and one of the best producers internationally. She was exceedingly good at her job at Sounds and Pictures that her then boss Sheila Tett asked her if she would think about starting a casting agency.
“I mulled it over for a while and approached my late husband with the idea. He was supportive and pushed me to go ahead and do it. With my personal savings, a carefully thought out plan and prayers, I started Invogue and through God’s grace, patience and hard work, we have weathered many storms and clocked five years,” Nina explains demurely. She credits her determination and the way she respects everyone to how her father moulded her.
“If you want it, make it happen. This is something my dad told me repeatedly when I was growing up,” the mother of two explains.
Nina is a loving mother of two lovely children, Yves, a seven-year- old boy and Aurea a 12-year-old girl. On balancing parenting and work, Nina says that one has to learn to trust God and practise self-love first as one cannot pour out love if they are running on empty.
To budding entrepreneurs, Nina’s advice is to do their due diligence before setting up shop and then to just dive right in. She emphasises the importance of resilience as the entrepreneurial journey is never easy.
“If you don’t do it, someone else will. You do not have the monopoly of ideas. If you get an idea, actualise it because if you do not, someone will overtake you and actualise it. That one idea could be the one that changes your lives and the lives of millions others,” she concludes.