In Summary
  • Coincidentally, my mother never wore makeup, so I didn’t have the privilege of sneaking into her closet to wear hers.
  • Instead, I would share makeup with my friends, or save up to buy mine.

She is charismatic, fearless and, hands down, a bobby-dazzler. Chelsea Ndirangu, or the African Barbie Doll, is a Kenyan modelling sensation who resides in Dallas, Texas. At only 19 years, she has taken the Internet by storm. She talks to James Kahongeh.  

You call yourself the ‘‘African Barbie Doll’’. What’s in this name?

The internet community picked the name for me. I have been told a great deal about how my doll-like features look surreal.

This feels flattering and a little weird too. Last year in July, I trimmed my hair and started rocking “finger waves”.

Everyone seemed to love my new style and how it complimented my face. I like the name; it fits into my playful personality like a glove.


Tell us a little about yourself…

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. I grew up in the Arlington/Mansfield area in Texas, US. I recently graduated from Mansfield High School. I have been modelling since I was seven years old.


What inspired you into the modelling arena?

Growing up, I would take my mother’s magazine subscriptions and flip through the pages, admiring the beautiful models. I would then imitate them by posing in front of a mirror.

My dream was to one day get on the cover of a magazine. My favourite model was, and still is, Naomi Elaine Campbell. I always thought if she could do it, I could do it too. That’s how I got hooked.


Are you a runway or brand model?

I am a little bit of both. When I got my first phone, I would watch runway videos of my favourite supermodels on YouTube. Over time, I learnt how to walk with grace, confidence and a dash of mystery. I would picture myself as a walking mannequin.

Brand modelling is more about looks and having the ability to sell with a picture. Nothing enchants me quite like a photo that can tell a story. Runway modelling is about character.


Any difference between the modelling landscape in Kenya and in the US?

To be discovered as a model in Kenya is not easy. To flourish is an even tougher battle. In the US though, you could be spotted from literally anywhere including in the shopping mall and even on the streets.

I am grateful to have had the chance to move to the US.


Memorable highlight of your modelling experience?

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