Dr Thanolo Keutlwile: Striking a Balance between Modelling and her Medical Profession

“I believe in having multiple income streams and I saw possibilities and decided to embrace them fully,” she says. But is it for her aplomb and inimitable feline grace on the catwalk that fashion houses are everywhere clamouring for this medical doctor of many talents, writes GOSEGO MOTSUMI

In Botswana’s prominent fashion shows, supermodel Dr Thanolo Keutlwile has come to be known for her powerful runway prowess that has catapulted her to fame and chutzpah on the catwalk.

At 26 years old, she juggles professions to find a balance between her creativity and medical profession as a doctor. Keutlwile’s inimitable bone structure and provocative hip swing are having all top fashion houses – including the African fashion force, Forbes Botswana Fashion – clamouring to work with her. “The love to make a difference led me to my career choices,” she said in an interview.

“I believe doing something you love makes it easier to serve fully. However, because of how draining the medical field can be, at times one gets to forget oneself and one’s capabilities, and that’s where the other field comes in. This is where I get to relax because modelling is an art and it relaxes the mindset. Besides, I believe in having multiple income streams and I saw possibilities and decided to embrace them fully.”

For an industry long criticised for its lack of diversity, as well as for perpetuating beauty standards seen through a Euro-centric lens, the Thamaga native was discovered by Amantle Moreetsi who saw her striking features and natural beauty.

Keutlwile was initially skeptical about the industry because of the issues surrounding it but got to learn that there is a way to control them and took to it. Her first job was a paid photoshoot and a fashion show by Fashion Without Borders.

Said the beauty with brains: “Initially I was a very shy person and had to learn to network and be available for myself through shoots and castings, as well as saving for cross-border trips. The industry relatively needs a committed individual, and so building networks matters, I am blessed to have fashion brands from which I can get full assistance. The goal is to keep working even in dry seasons because there is always someone watching.”

While the fashion and modelling industry is still growing in Botswana, Keutlwile recently expanded her portfolio by adding a modelling academy to her line of work in order to help aspiring models achieve their dreams, heel etiquette and training. She believes key leaders need to collaborate, stage more shows and support one another in order to grow the sector.

“The industry being small sometimes has limited funds, leading to limited beneficiaries but those who plant early get to reap a better yield,” she added. “That on its own has shown me that working even when no one is watching has value. Professional diversification may be another factor because there are instances where you have to let go of bigger opportunities because they impact the other career line.”