A few months back, Renee Kujur, a Delhi based model shared a picture of her along with the R&B superstar Rihanna on her Instagram page. Although she was often told by many people about her uncanny resemblance to the popular singer, it was the first time that she shared it on a social media platform. Little did she know, that this one photo would lead her to something much bigger and change her life forever.
The picture soon went viral and she was poured with phone calls from friends, family members and people from the industry. She went on to give interviews with multiple media houses including Hindustan Times, who covered an article on the Rihanna-lookalike and shot the HT-City campaign with her. At present, she is loaded with modeling assignments, events and in fact, she is pretty soon going to be featured in VOGUE magazine.
But all this success wasn’t without a few bumps on the road. She has had her fair share of struggle and faced a lot of ridicule for her dark skin in the fair-skin obsessed Indian society. Here are a few amazing facts that you need to know about her:
1) Renee Kujur belongs to a tribe in Bagicha, Chhattisgarh.
She comes from a humble family. As evident from her Instagram handle, she often visits her place and actively supports the children there to have a good life.
2) She was humiliated on stage at the age of 3.
As stated in Hindustan times, Renee participated in a fancy-dress competition where she dressed as a fairy, however, when she walked on stage, someone in the audience shouted, “Dekho Dekho kaali pari (Look, a black fairy)”. She left the stage in tears and after more than two decades she is often reminded of the incident. She smiles and says to herself, “Kuch pariyan kaali bhi hoti hain (Some fairies are black too)”.
3) She faced constant rejection in the modeling world
Due to her unconventional looks and dark complexion, Renee had to face constant rejection in the industry. The modeling industry, at that time, wasn’t very accepting of models with dark skin so she had her makeup artists lightening her skin tone for the shoots.
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4) Her Rihanna-like looks are now getting her many gigs.
“Photographers would tell their clients that I resemble Rihanna. That way, it was easier to convince them. No one could deny that Rihanna wasn’t beautiful. That sort of worked in my favor. Those who had called me kaali and unattractive have to take back their words,” she told the Hindustan Times. She also hopes to meet Rihanna someday, “She has turned around my destiny for me. I would love to meet her, surprise her and thank her,” she says.
5) Her Instagram handle with username ‘badgalrene’ now has thousands of followers
After her striking resemblance with Rihanna became the talk of the town, she gained thousands of followers on Instagram and Facebook. In fact, her Instagram username ‘badgalrene’ is derived from Rihanna’s Instagram ‘badgalriri’.
6) She appeared on Josh talks
She shared her inspiring story of starting from a small Chhattisgarh tribe to becoming one of the most sought-after models in India on popular platform, Josh Talks. She has redefined how people see dark-skinned women in this country by making a prominent place for herself in the modeling industry.
After women like Renee Kujur taking up the stage, we need to change our mindset and really drop this fairness obsession. It’s high time we accept our wheatish, caramel, dusky, dark and brown skin that we are blessed with, which even the white people seem to be idolizing now. Dark is Beautiful. Period.
*All Images Courtesy: Instagram (@badgalrene)