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Fashion model and Goodwill ambassador for Surinam, Rachel Ritfeld, is helping charity with the launch of her 2007 calendar

From Surinam in South America to central London via Europe is how Rachel Ritfeld has come to prominence in the world of all things glamourous.

Known for a plethora of ventures, ranging from catwalk model and entrepreneur, to being the UK face of American hip-hop guru Damon Dash’s exclusive line of bling-bling Tiret watches, the 22-year-old is destined for superstardom.

Ritfeld’s journey into the world of fashion and catwalk, her first loves, is amazing. Born to a Afro-Caribbean father and an Indian mother, her rise to fame gathered a head of steam after her appearance on MTV’s Hip Hop Candy.

Contrary to popular opinion, gracing various magazine covers and appearing in a host of music videos aren’t where Ritfeld’s talents stop.

Next month she launches her first calendar from which all proceeds will go to her charity, the Rachel Ritfeld Project. As well as negotiating a deal with New Era clothing and trying to buy a house in the capital, she is also currently filming in a new hotly anticipated Sky One series.

The epitome of today’s independent woman, Ritfeld admits that this has been one of her busiest years to date. Finding time out of her hectic schedule to talk to 24/7, Ritfeld answered some of the burning questions her growing army of fans were eager to know.

Following your stint on Hip Hop Candy you are pretty much known as a video girl. How does that sit with you?

People always say to me ‘oh, you’re that video girl’ but no, no, no.

I know why they would say that because it’s the most apparent, all you got to do is switch on your TV and you can see a video but I have done about 20 videos in my time and about 400 catwalk shows. But I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have been modelling for eight years, so by profession that’s what I would say I do, but in the very near future you will see that progress into acting, TV and merchandising. Sso I wouldn’t put any limitations on who is or what it is that Rachel Ritfeld is or does.

How did you get into modelling?

When I was a child in South America I did a commercial for our version of Coca Cola, which tastes better by the way, and I did commercials for clothing companies and a peanut butter advert. I moved to Belgium when I was 10n, and two weeks before my 15th birthday I was asked if I wanted to do a fashion show, and I have never looked back since. I really loved it and my first job in Belgium was a shoot for L’Oreal and I did a catwalk for a fashion designer I can’t remember but it was my first catwalk and I just loved it.

How is life as a mixed-race model?

In my career I would say that being mixed in England has been very difficult because when I first came to the UK they would say, ‘you’re really pretty and cute but we don’t do pretty and cute’. They wanted a bit more boyish, toughlooking and edgy. But I am a woman and I have hips and breasts and I am proud of that, I don’t want to change that for nothing. But the fact they didn’t get it never got me down because one day they will get it.

As a model being bilingual must be a great help. You speak six languages, what are they and what language do you think in?

I’m fluent in Dutch, French, Surinamese and English but I studied German for five years and I studied Latin for five years as well. Latin is the base of everything I speak. I also studied Japanese for a year. I think in a mixture, if I am angry then it’s Surinamese all day long because it’s that more aggressive. General thinking then it’s English, it’s my best language. I have a really bad stutter when I talk all of my other languages so I get really shy when I talk, including Dutch even though it’s my mother tongue.

Do you miss Surinam?

I go back every year. I really love my country and my grandmother is still there so I go whenever I can. My friend who I grew up with since I was a baby, we speak every week on the phone.

She’s like my sister, so I go and see her as often as I can. My country is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have four or five major racial groups and we have no problems. Each has their own food and culture and we have never had any religious wars or anything. It’s so peaceful.

What do you have planned for the future?

I have been made a goodwill ambassador for Surinam in the UK so I want to use that title to help my country and I trying to set up my own charity there so I can help out as much as I can. I am starting out with a calendar which launches next month and the proceeds from that will be going to the Rachel Ritfeld Project. My main focus will be to try and help primary schools in Surinam. I enjoy what I do and my aim is to have kids look up to me.

Published: 01 November 2006
Issue: 1242
By: Joel Campbell

Visit Rachel’s MySpace page or her official website.

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