Where dreams are made

Having fallen in love with Sri Lanka, Nigerian model - Jacob tells the Mirror Magazine why he decided to pursue his career in the island
By: Shaveen Jeewandara

“Sri Lanka is a land where dreams come true,” says Jacob Okpara, professional Nigerian
model who has fallen in love with this country and has decided to stay on – carrying out his work in Sri Lanka. Jacob boasts a hard worked out physique, but gives off an easy going aura. Nigerian smiles peep as he sits down to talk with us. Coming from a Christian background, Jacob’s family is tightly knit, and he has drawn a lot of inspiration from his father Isaac and mother Comfort Okpara, but it was his girlfriend who brought Jacob to our shores back in 2010. “I came here to meet my girlfriend, and I will never regret that decision. Without her I’ll be nowhere in the industry, and she has shown me this beautiful country.”

Back in Nigeria, Jacob was an Engineering student at the University of Port Harcourt. Having completed his studies, he looked for a career avenue, but the economic situation in Nigeria was cutting roads across his dream. “Being a model has been an aspiration, but it was very hard to get a grip of it in Nigeria, unless you know someone who knows someone and so on, you have to give in; that is the state of the economy,” he mentions. Jacob tried out a few ventures, here and there, but it did not seem to materialize, however his passion for modeling kept him in pursuit. “I recall working out since I was 20 or 21 years old. My dad made me a Gym in our house and that was the start of my motivation, I’ve been working-out for the past eight or nine years now without supplements. I thought to myself, why have a good physique and not make use of it?”. Jacob was using his natural talent to gain a foot-hold in the industry, and that’s when he met eyes with Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka is nothing short of spectacular”, says a beaming Jacob. “This is where I found stability in my profession, that’s why I call it ‘The land where dreams comes true’”. Jacob has worked with professionals of the caliber of Michael Wijesuriya, who he credits for bringing him into the local arena, as well as Brian Kerkoven, Ramani Fernando, Ramzi and Roberto Inglesi. His work with such professionals has been crucial in his decision to stay back in Sri Lanka, “The modeling industry is fast growing and a great place to display talent and skill. I believe Sri Lanka is a good place to start in the fashion or modeling industry”, he states, “I see a clear future in modeling in about two or three years time I believe Sri Lanka could display their talent globally”.

Jacob also mentions that the local talent is extremely good, with a lot of skill and productivity – with a little bit of encouragement from the top, they can go a long way he presumes. Jacob has also fallen in love with another aspect of Sri Lanka that no one can avoid – Food. He mentions that he has grown to love the local spices, and the disproportional amounts of chilli we use. “Favorite food here – Home made rice and curry especially with Dhal. I love Dhal,” Jacob tells us. He has had the pleasure of visiting Hikkaduwa and Kandy, while Nuwara Eliya is next on his itinerary.

With the aim of continuing his work here, Jacob aspires to add something new to the local scene.

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