Builder by day, model by night

2011-07-23 14:55

During the week he wears paint-splattered overalls and mixes cement on building sites, but on weekends you might find him strutting down the catwalk modelling the latest fashions.

He has gone from the streets of Ricardo Sauls to the catwalks of Europe but after 15 years of modelling, Ricardo Sauls, who is now 33, chooses to live in a township and work as an ordinary labourer.

He’s since swopped the streets of Manenberg for the safer environment of Asla township in the small West Coast town of Darling.

Speaking during his 10am tea break this week from a building site in Darling, 70km north of Cape Town, Sauls said he was spotted when he was 18 by a talent scout while he was part of a construction team working on a house in Cape Town.

“It was a hot day,” he said, “I had my shirt off and was throwing bricks up from the street to the first floor.

“This guy came past and asked if he could take photos of me. He offered me R3 000 for three pics, but then when he paid the money I felt bad and told him he could take more.”

Soon afterwards, despite his scepticism, he was signed up with M1 model agency.

“At first I thought it was a scam, it seemed too good to be true. Then I saw the money and realised this was real.”

Fashion shoots and television commercials for European clients followed rapidly and he spent eight years working in Germany, where he was much in demand for commercials ahead of the 2006 Fifa World Cup.

“I got a lot of football jobs promoting the Brazilian team and Ronaldo.”

His close ties to his family saw him returning to South Africa and signing up with Base Models.

Although Sauls said he has lived a life of glamour in Seapoint and Camps Bay with other models, he found the constant partying “tiring”.

While visiting his elder sister Sherina and brother-in-law Faried Willemburg, who had moved his building company from Manenberg to Darling, he was amazed that children could walk the streets without fear, even if they were sent to the shop “with R100”.

So he moved there permanently a year ago.

As to why he chooses to remain in Darling’s Asla township, where his younger sister Percia shares a house with him, he says he knows everyone there “and everyone knows me”.

And working as a labourer for his brother-in-law not only keeps him fit while earning him money between modelling jobs, it also keeps him close to his dream of becoming an architect. – West Cape News

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