With full lips, velvet skin and standing at 5’11”, it is easy to see why Aamito Lagum has so fiercely taken the global modeling industry by storm. Born in bucolic Uganda to a single mother, Lagum had to overcome incredible circumstances in the hopes of chasing her dreams of being a model.
Living with her grandparents and mother in Kitgum, Uganda, Lagum recalls spending countless nights hiding from the LRA, a vicious Ugandan rebel army. Life in rural Uganda wasn’t easy for the family, but it instilled in Lagum a great determination to succeed through discipline and a concrete work ethic. Lagum returned to her birth city of Kimpala to finish her schooling career. She was teased and bullied for her slim frame and incredible height throughout. However, her mother continued to build her child’s then crumbling confidence and pushed her to always do and feel her best.
The older Lagum grew, the stronger her desire to be a model became. However, her family had other plans for her. Like her grandfather, Lagum was set to pursue an honorable career in law. Uganda’s economy is host to a particularly limited modeling industry and Lagum is not the conventional beauty. Eager to please, she accepted her family’s decision whilst simultaneously pursuing her modeling career. Lagum said, “I had always wanted to fulfill my late grandfather’s dream of becoming a lawyer. Before he passed away, he always said I could make a good lawyer because I was brutally honest as a child”. However, a small and unexpected window of opportunity presented itself in the form of a casting call for the first season of Africa’s Next Top Model. The casting was sixteen hours away, in Nairobi, Kenya, and she needed the support of her mother to afford the transportation fees. Her mother eventually agreed to give her the money on the condition that, if she didn’t make it as a finalist she would put her head down and forget this pipe dream of being a model. To further add to the pressure Lagum had only a few hours in Nairobi before having to hop onto the bus back to Kampala.
Lagum was one of the first girls to arrive at the casting venue. Having just gotten off of a sixteen-hour bus ride, she felt puffy eyed and ill-prepared for the casting. As the day progressed she passed through all the judging rounds with ease. However, time just wasn’t on her side. She recalls how she continued to notify the producers that she was soon leaving and couldn’t afford to miss her bus. Unfortunately, Lagum eventually had to leave before the end of the casting. Soon after, she received a call from supermodel and ANTM host, Oluchi Onweagba, who confirmed Lagum’s place as a finalist in the competition. Lagum was overjoyed. “It was such an overwhelming experience for me,” she says thoughtfully. “Out of 8,000 girls, I had made it to the top twelve”. Lagum, along with all the other finalists, was flown to Cape Town, South Africa to compete. She was later crowned as the winner of season one of Africa’s Next Top Model. She won, amongst a few other endorsement deals, a contract with DNA Model.
Management, New York and Boss Models, South Africa. In a few short weeks her life had changed irrevocably.
Since her win she has graced the catwalks of top international brands and designers, including Marc by Marc Jacobs, J. Mendel, Lacoste, Bottega Veneta and Hermès. Lagum has also been featured in W Magazine, Elle Magazine and Marie Claire to name a few. Stye.com noticed the model’s repeated appearances at all the hottest fashion weeks and named her one of the Top 10 New Models of the Season. Her growing success forced the model to relocate to New York. Lagum said, "I have gotten to see the world. The posh beauty of London, world's love centre Paris, Milan, and New York among others. It is just wonderful for little me to meet the big world. But most of all, I have gotten to meet and work with a bunch of incredible and talented minds".
Lagum appreciates that she’s become a beacon of hope for all young African girls who haven’t been able to realize their dreams of being international models. It’s this knowledge that continues to motivate her to strive for greater accolades and help Africans break into the global market. Although already having accomplished so much, in two short years, there’s no doubt that Aamito Lagum will continue to dominate the industry in 2016 and she has the full support of Africa behind her.
Credits for AamitoLagum
Series editors: Irene Ojo-Felix and Steven Yatsko
Photography: Steven Yatsko for Models.com
Stylist: William Graper @ The Wall Group
Art Direction: Stephan Moskovic
Hair: Takayoshi Tsukisawa
Makeup: Kim Weber
Production: Jazmin Alvarez
Photo assistant: Jason Acton
Manicurist: Natalie Pavloski @ LMC Worldwide