The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011
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Camilla Barungi

Girls, we got a chance to interview the fabulous Camilla Barungi, Laura's muse, and she made for such a fun and fascinating interview that we don't need to say another word.

Camilla, take it away:

Girl, your legs go on FOREVER. How tall are you?
"Ha ha! I know, I know! I’m almost 6ft tall, but it’s the whole tribe thing. Hundreds of years ago, we were nomads so we had to walk great distances to find good pastures for our cows. We all have long legs, so we actually appear taller than we really are."

Tell us a bit about growing up in Uganda. Do you get back often?
"Golly! I could go on and on…But Uganda is pretty amazing. I mean, when I was growing up, we had a civil war and it went on for years. It’s weird because as a child, you kinda get used to it; hearing bullets, people disappearing, hearing about torture. I remember that they would pile human skulls by the roadside, I mean piles of hundreds and hundreds of skulls. When I asked why? They told me , because the West was ignoring our troubles, they wanted the media to document it, a cry for help! It’s really weird! I think it made me appreciate life a whole lot more and stress the small stuff a whole lot less. Anyways, I will stop here because this is a whole other story…I try to go back as often as I can. It’s quite stable but the T.I.A (This is Africa) phenomenon is still in effect. You know, the whole politics and things not changing. Whenever you ask questions about why things are the way the are, people say T.I.A! This Is Africa."

How did you get started modeling? How were you discovered?
"It’s not all that romantic really. I met this lady who told me that I should model and she had a friend that was an agent. I had this part- time job that I hated, and when they paid me for my first show what I was making in 2 weeks, I was outta there!"

How was your experience working with Laura Bennett and which dress of hers as your favorite? We'll tell you right now, that dress you wore for the Bryant Park show was jaw-droppingly gorgeous and you worked it perfectly.
"Thank you!! I appreciate the love. It’s so much fun working with Laura. She’s pretty amazing. She creates these unbelievable works of art and is so honestly modest about it. She’s funny because she’s so nonchalant about it all. When she asked me to come over and view her collection and I was so ‘modely’, showing up hours later (it was raining or snowing). Anyways, I went to her pad and she had friends over, margaritas in hand and she was in a fabulous black dress, heels, diamonds, pearls, all this while pregnant with her collection all done, all on mannequins. I was blown away! She on the other hand was so chill and she told me, she made a couple of extra dresses. I love it! Seriously though, Laura is darn amazing! I was in love with what she made, modernizing Katharine Hepburn (my favorite Hollywood icon). The cardigan and sweater felt like cashmere. The pants were cut so fabulously and my girl ironed that crease, I could slice someone just by walking by. That outfit looked like a million bucks and all on a $100 budget, yet it got no love. Of course, I love her PR finale dress she made for me. Someone could see their own reflection in that beading. I pretty much love everything about Laura, that’s why when Heidi asked us to pick our designer, I kept praying no one would pick her before my turn."

Favorite moment from the show?
"Walking for Laura Bennett in Bryant Park."

Has your career changed after Project Runway?
My life has totally changed after Project Runway. I think my biggest fans are middle and high school girls. The moment I realized I had any impact at all on society (besides walking down a runway), my outlook on everything changed. I mean, I had this Sista from Harlem telling me that her 9 year old daughter just loves me, For REAL! and wants to cut her hair short. Man! That’s Heavy!! I realized the importance of role modeling and not just modeling. My modeling career is going pretty well. I mean I could always do more…let’s see what happens."

Are you still in touch with any of the models and designers of PR? Come on, give us a little model dish.
"Yes. Laura and I communicate a lot and she tells me to stop by anytime I’m in her hood. The way she invites me is so familiarly Ugandan. I don’t need to call, just drop in and when I go to her house, if I want something to drink, I just head over to the fridge and help myself. There will be like 10 little boys all over the place (hers and their buddies). It’s funny too, because I’ll be over and she’s on the phone or blackberrying away and talking to her all the same. I love it, it’s less formal. Oopss!! Ok back to the question; yes I talk to Nazri, Danielle, Marilinda, Alexandra, Malan and almost everyone else, even production. Oh! I walked for Keith Michaels this past season. Him and I are friends and I love his work. He’s really talented and is so fabulous. I run into Heidi from season 2 when I was in Birmingham, pretty cool.

OK, the model dish; Man there was some serious competition going on. When I went on the show, I thought it was all about the designers but some models would almost kill to win. There was one model that was so conniving, always trying to make others look bad but she didn’t make it far. I saw another model slip a note to the designer before model selection to pick her. Let’s just say that folks were schmoozing, conspiring, flirting, whatever it took to last on the show. Totally Gangster!"

Do you like to do photo shoots for editorial and campaigns or do you enjoy doing the runways more?
"You know, I really love it all. It really depends on the job, the whole package. If the team is creative, meticulous, courteous and fun of course, it gives you a completely different energy. I do love runway though, probably since, in my opinion, every model is somewhat of an exhibitionist, it is instantly gratifying."

Do you feel pressured as a model to be thin? Do you have to work at it?
"I think with all the crap in our food, we should all feel the pressure. Yes, I work out. I’m lean but not sickeningly thin. I’ve always played sports. I love running. I don’t get people who don’t exercise, that’s just plain crazy to me, you gotta get those juices flowing. BTW, that’s another thing I loved about Laura, she loves to run. I remember when she was very pregnant telling me she couldn’t wait to go running . I said “maybe have the baby first.” Haha."

So far, what has been your dream modeling assignment?
"Not to sound corny but my Project Runway experience has been pretty cool. I was so chill about it during taping but the fact that I can be here and my family in Uganda can watch me on TV and watch me doing my thing is, pretty amazing. (They don’t get too many channels out there)."

Favorite designers and photographers?
"Favorite anything is the toughest question to ask any Gemini. It changes like everyday. Laura Bennett is my favorite designer person (not to sound cheesy) but she has impeccable taste, a God gifted hand and such integrity. She always treats me with such respect and for me, this is more important than working with someone who is so gifted, yet so mean. When you buy clothes you see one dimension of the whole biz but when we model, we work with the designers, their team etc.. and it’s all relative. That aside (forgive the model activism), I love Azzedine Ala├»a, Tracy Reese, Proenza Schouler, McQueen although I live in Grey Ant jeans. It’s hard not to love it all when it takes millions of dollars and hours to create."

Naomi Campbell accused Vogue of sidelining black models in favor of white faces. Do you think there are more opportunities now for black models? Do you think there is a more balanced cultural look to fashion's runways these days?
"Ouch! This one’s hard because I know if I question this, I will become another Bill Cosby. Aside from pleading the fifth, I really try to focus on positive aspects like the fact that I’m fortunate to be able to make a living just by being me. To me, it’s hard just being black, period. I don’t wish it that way, but it is what it is. It just means that we work a little harder and that doesn’t really bother me. It just means that every time you see a successful black person, they are truly awesome. My question to Naomi is she’s been around so long, why’s she bringing this up now? I hope she doesn’t read this, I’m scarrrrred! Haha! Seriously though, we all know the deal. This industry is already abstract as it is. I mean I feel for us (black models) but them Asian sistas got it rough and some other ethnicities cannot even model period. I know a Lebanese girl that had to change her name and pretend that she’s Latina."

Is there anything that you would change about the business if you could?
"Just that people mind their manners. There’s nothing as sickening as seeing someone being mistreated."

Who are the people that influence you the most?
"People that live an abundant life, doing what they love and doing it with finesse. My mother is an amazing woman. One thing that was important in my family was humor, even when times were tough, we made a joke about everything. I just went to see “Lagerfeld Confidential” and right now, I’m in love with Karl Lagerfeld and his approach to working hard but making it all seem effortlessly fabulous."

Do you have any advice for young women who want to be models?
"It’s definitely fun being a model but don’t forget that it’s a business. So, go get it!!"

[Photos: New York Model Management]

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Wow, I can really see she and Laura clicked. Camilla is so refreshingly funny and smarrrrt!

WHY she and Laura clicked. (it's time to finish that morning cup of java)


What a fabulous interview. Thank you so much, boys. I love Camilla, she's such a great model.

OHMYGOD Fabulous! I love Camilla!!
Best designer + model combo on the show.

"I saw another model slip a note to the designer before model selection to pick her."

LOL. I think I know who that was. Great interview!

Fabulous interview. Fabulous model. Not only stunningly beautiful, but intelligent and interesting too! Thanks guys.

now that was an extra treat from you boys. thanks! so nice to hear camilla "speak".

YAY Camilla! LOVE HER!! What a fantastic interview, I love the pictures too. Great job, bitches!

she's so sweet and intelligent.

thanks for this fabulously glamorous interview, guys.

Oh, I still love and think about the updated Hepburn outfit Camilla mentions. Laura's known for her eveningwear, but that one outfit made me wish she'd do a line of daywear too. That outfit was gorge for the office ... and sexy but appropriate if you're in your 30s or over (i.e., the age when most retailers seem to think a woman's deepest longing is to look like an '80s-era bankteller on her way to lunch at Appleby's).

Love. Her.

One of the best S3 models by far. Thanks, guys! Best of luck to you, Camilla!

Great interview! She's so funny.

G-d, is she stunningly beautiful!!

Great interview too. I usually hate it when models speak because, usually, all they do is complain about how hard they work ('I had to get up earrrrly and try on 20 different bathing suits and the sand was itchy...'). But Camilla is obviously smart & has her head screwed on straight.

And funny that a woman who grew up in a war-torn country is still afraid of Naomi Campbell.

Funny, perceptive & smart.

--Gotham Tomato

Oh yeah...

...and I'll bet that Naomi keeps the skulls of her former assistants stacked in a bowl on her coffee table. And in her spare time, she uses a glue gun to attach old blackberries to the skulls, careful to pose them at the precise angle of impact.

Duck & cover, girls.

--Gotham Tomato

Great Q&A, guys. She's gorgeous!

Thank you for this interview, guys. I really enjoyed reading it. You know, I wish the Bravo site had more stuff about the models. After all, as Heidi says, this is a competition for them as well, too, also.

She has such a fabulous face. And, apparently, she also has insight and healthy sense of perspective about her industry. Go, Camilla!

MY GOD, not only gorgeous but intelligent and gracious. The entire interview was a major treat. Thanks so much for posting it.

Gorgeous, intelligent, sweet, her!

"ToddNY said...

OHMYGOD Fabulous! I love Camilla!!
Best designer + model combo on the show."

Or better yet: Camilla + Laura + Katharine Hepburn.

Fabulous bitches!

Her relationship w/ La Laura is very A.Hepburn/Givenchy. Hope the collaboration continues.
How beautifully honest is Camilla. My 17 year old niece just got signed by Ford and everything Camilla said my niece is experiencing. Role modeling is the only way! Camilla nails the task flawlessly!

Emma P.


Great interview! Isn't she absolutely gorgeous? This girl has a future in the industry.

"I’m in love with Karl Lagerfeld and his approach to working hard but making it all seem effortlessly fabulous."

So fabulously true.

Love her. And she's so unbelievably gorge. My favourite PR model ever.

What an incredibly classy woman.

Camilla rocked the hell out of every single outfit she wore on the show. You go sista! The world awaits great things from you.

Camilla seems sensible and realistic. I like her and wish her well!

What a great interview. I totally get the nearly psychic connection between Camilla and Laura now. I love how Camilla described Laura's residence as "Ugandan."

I want to invite them both over right now! Laura, bring some clothes that would fit me. Camilla, bring that sharp wit and amazing eye for the truth. Love them both.

LOVE HER! She is a goddess. She was destined to hook up with Laura. How fabulous!

oh my, i think i have a crush on her now...


Camilla is fabulous! Camilla + Laura Bennett+BEYOND fabulous!!!

Lord, how amazing is she? And those legs!

Laura and Camilla provided the class for PR3. Actually all seasons of PR. Camilla rocked everything of Laura's, including that fabulous Woodstock dress.

-- rain brain

another laura

Loved, loved, loved Camilla - thanks for this wonderful interview, TLo! So great to hear about her.

BTW, kittens, have you seen Nazri purring "Ahoy" in that Old Spice commercial? Great to see her more often, too!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, and what a wonderful role model for all women, especially black women, out there.

Wow! I'm speechless. It says more about her that she and her family (sounds like they did)survived the civil war than anything else.

What an amazing person she is!

Pat in Georgia

Thanks for such a wonderful interview. A beautiful, intelligent, strong woman!

Wow, great interview -- thanks to both of you for all the time invested in this one :).

Grace (Chloe's model) and Camilla were always my two favorites from this show. Interestingly, they are both articulate, honest and humorous in addition to their obvious beauty. Guess those other atributes really do shine through. Thanks T&L for a fabulous interview!

"Anonymous said...

Grace (Chloe's model) and Camilla were always my two favorites from this show.

And Melissa (S1). My favorites models. Fabulous interview, darlings.

Damn, I love that woman. She truly is fabulous.

being lebanese, i am now curious as to who this "lebanese model who had to change her name and pretend to be latina" is. newsflash, world---our women are just as beautiful, and it is a travesty that we should have to pretend to be something we are not in order to model.


oh my god! totally loved this interview!

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