by Manna Zel, she/they
Congolese-born, Montreal-based model and accounting student Jefferson Bondo shot his first beauty campaign for Youth To The People’s 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum, and he’s hungry for more. With a love for music, modeling, and doing what makes him feel invincible, Bondo dreams of a future in which he can look back on his life, work, and travels and truly feel proud of himself. Here, Bondo tells To The People how he got into modeling, what he dreams of, and what it was like shooting his first beauty campaign.
Manna Zel: Can you start out by telling me a bit about yourself—what you do you enjoy doing when you’re not modeling?
Jefferson Bondo: I’m currently in university where I'm studying accounting. During my free time I like to listen to music; I usually search for 70s to 2000s artists that I never had the chance to listen to. I listen to all their albums—it can be RnB, rock, hip-hop, pop, Congolese music (Rumba), Zouk, etc. I really like dancing—African dance—watching tv shows, and having quality time with my family.
MZ: Tell me about how you first stepped into modeling.
JB: I always liked taking pictures and dressing well, so my entourage always told me to start modeling, but I never [took] it seriously. One day my cousin called me to be a part of a fashion show in Trois-Rivieres (1 hour and a half from Montreal) and I wasn’t interested at all, so I said no. The day of the show, she called me and said to come—they [hadn’t found] a boy. They [would] pick me up and go there in 30 minutes if I said yes… like I was doing nothing, [so] I said ok. It turns out I enjoyed it. I’ve gotten my first taste of a runway show and I was hungrier for more. The designer of the show called me 5 months later to do a casting for an exposition show for their brands that I did and I was selected [for]. The day of the show I came one hour in advance, so I was waiting and the owner of the place saw me and asked me if I was a model, also if I was with an agency. I said no but I’d love to. He gave me his contact and said I will call you and work with you on your portfolio. Three months later he called me for a gig for the magazine of our airport, enRoute. After the gig he said to stay in the studio to work on my portfolio… When he sent me the photos, I was looking for an agency. I made a list and I went to my favorite one [for] their open call and the rest is history.
MZ: This was your first beauty campaign, right? How was your experience on set?
JB: It was a very nice experience; the vibe was really friendly so I was very comfortable and it was fast! I didn’t have to change outfits every 10 minutes ahahah, it was just shots of my face and a little bit of acting.
MZ: What was it like shooting your first beauty campaign?
JB: The day before I was a little bit stressed—I was wondering if I had to trim all my facial hair if my skin was looking good. So I washed, exfoliated, and hydrated at night. In the morning, I brought my clipper ahaha. It turned out really great, I was stressed for nothing. I never had pictures of my face that close and I was surprised [at] how my skin was looking good. Now I want more beauty campaigns!
MZ: What role does energy play in your life? How does energy unite you with the world around you?
JB: Good energy is very important. Without it you can’t be at your best and you can’t think clearly. It’s really important to eat well, workout, do what you like that makes you feel invincible.
MZ: What are your greatest wishes and dreams for yourself? For your community?
JB: My biggest wish for myself is to look 20 years from now and not regret the choices I’ve [made]. To be really proud of myself. My dream for now is to travel the world and do what I like, which is modeling. For my community, I wish a future where they won’t be judged for their skin, feel insecurity anywhere and at any time. Have the same chances of succeeding like everyone else.