Matthew Osei, popularly known as Kojo Osei, is a Ghanaian model who is best known for his bold fashion sense. He has modeled for the likes of Glitz, Shades by Juliet Ibrahim and Ovrlkgh, and can be seen on billboards throughout Ghana. Osei considers himself an androgynous model who appears in shoots that highlight his epicene flare. Born in Ghana's capital, Accra, he is the descendant of Ashanti tribes on his father’s side and the Eastern tribes on his mother’s. Osei’s looks are inspired by nature and images of everyday life in Western Africa. In addition to modeling, Osei is also well known for his unique talent in styling and set design.
Let's begin with how it all started. Where are you from and how did your upbringing influence your life today?
I am the descendant of the Ashanti and Eastern regions of Ghana and I am the first born son out of five children. It is our culture that as the first born son, I am expected to hold a lot of responsibility, such as caring for my younger siblings and supporting my parents in being a provider of the household. At a young age, I lost my mom and this forced me to be independent and to take my responsibilities seriously.
This influenced me greatly because it meant that I needed to take charge of my life in order to support my family and the people that I love. On this journey, I discovered a passion for expression through fashion. I believe that self expression is like wearing your soul so that the world can see who you really are. This is important for me because in order to seriously care for your family, friends and community you must first care for yourself. This has been the greatest lesson of my life experiences.As far as modeling, it started back in high school when I participated in a school fashion event as a model. My friends motivated me to get into modeling as a career because I stole the show.
When did you realize you had a passion to start modeling?
Before I took modeling seriously, I was rejected at auditions frequently, which dropped my level of confidence. I almost gave up. But after realizing I need to help myself first, in order to get the attention needed, I decided to pay for my photoshoots and styled myself. I received massive compliments from photographers and people in the fashion industry. I was also featured on Vodaphone Ghana campaign. Those little achievement made me want to do more.
Talk to us about your first modeling job? What did you learn from that experience?
Expression is core to who I am. Getting dressed in the morning is a ritual. It's a moment of reflection and paying attention to how I feel. So in some ways, modeling has always been a passion. The first time I modeled in a show was in high school. Some students in my high school were organizing a show and they asked me to participate. I said yes. From there I blossomed.
In 2016, three years after my first show in High School, I was scrolling through instagram and saw a post about Glitz Africa Fashion Week. It turns out Glitz is one of the largest fashion shows in Ghana. I decided to audition and was invited to meet with a panel at the Alisa Hotel. The panel was very precise and quick. They asked me for my name, then to walk in front of them only to wait until the auditions were finished. I was welcomed to participate in the show and it was a life changing experience. I learned that if I was going to take modeling seriously I would have to compete in shows like Glitz, and so I must be time conscious, tolerant of different approaches and hard working.
You are known to have a one-of-a-kind flair on photo shoots and fashion shows. Does it come naturally to you or is it something you have to turn on?
Who are some of your role models in the industry?
I admire Naomi Campbell’s consistency in the fashion industry as a model. She has also made a household name for herself. I love how confident she appears in her walk and photos.
As far as Tyson Beckford, he has achieved a lot as a male model. Seeing him being featured in music videos and magazines as a black male model inspires me. I also deeply appreciate Grace Jones and Alek Wek.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself to be a fashion icon and an inspiration to the upcoming generations. I think Ghana has a lot of opportunities to support artists and creatives. I think the next 10 years will take me around the world and I hope to elevate the Ghanaian creative community and to show that we are a force to be reckoned with. This is the age of return for Ghana, but I think it is also the age of export of Ghanaian culture.
How can people connect with you to learn more about your work?
I am excited to announce that I am launching my brand, KojHouse. By February, people will be able to visit me online at www.Koj.House and book my modeling, styling and set design services. In the meantime, they can follow me on instagram at @Koj.sei and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Kojo and see his work on Facebook and