Modelling can help ghetto youngsters

Redemptor Zhuwakiyi, 24, won several modelling titles as a child at school and in her community in Chitungwiza. She believes the profession can be developed for the benefit of other young people from the ghetto.

Redemptor Zhuwakiyi
Redemptor Zhuwakiyi

“Before I started taking part in modelling competitions, I was a very shy person who did not have much confidence. My mother, my friends and my aunts persuaded me to venture into modelling and gave me no choice. I was constantly encouraged and when I won my very first title after competing for the first time at Sinoia primary school, I was motivated to participate in more beauty pageants,” she said in a recent interview.

Zhuwakiyi won the Miss Sinoia when I was in Grade 5 and was crowned Miss Chitungwiza junior for three years from 2004 to 2006. I was in the top five for Miss Schools Harare in 2005, an event that was organised by Estate Blues. I won the Miss Super Face 2007 after taking part in the Miss Tourism Harare Junior.

“Modelling is a profession which I believe has the potential to turn around lives. I am encouraged when I look at people like Naomi Campbell,” she said.

“But in Zimbabwe the profession is looked down upon and not taken seriously. People associate models with loose girls. There are some models who have abused the profession, but it is wrong for people to see every model with the same negative lenses.”

She said lack of resources and inadequate sponsorship made it difficult to break into the industry.

“As a starting point, there is need to make the career visible to marginalised communities including the high density suburbs and the rural areas. Modelling should not be viewed as a platform for elite members of society only. I do not see why modelling agencies are not setting up base in the ghetto and scouting for talent there,” said Zhuwakiyi.

“Look at me, I won several titles although i am from the Chitungwiza. The challenge with a lot of girls who are interested in modelling is that they do not know where to go and who to talk to. They are also discouraged by their families, communities and are labelled with all sort of derogatory titles that demean their confidence and project them as people of loose morals. With the right attitude and support, the next Miss Zimbabwe can come from the ghetto.”

She eats healthily and keeps herself well. “I am not one of those who use too much mak-up because my skin is naturally flawless. I love my colour and I have been groomed to always look good. I like the exercise that I do every morning and before I sleep because I know in a way it is contributing to my good health,” she said.

“Modelling is an opportunity to rise and shine. Once you are crowned Miss something, that title follows you and if you are a good person, you are then able to inspire others.”

Zhuwakiyi bemoaned the poor remuneration for models in Zimbabwe. She has worked as a fashion model in Cape Town under a contract with Models Unlimited and has advertised foundation and face powder for Yardley. “Unlike in Zimbabwe, the profession there is taken very seriously and models can live off modelling. If you sign up for a billboard advertisement, you are paid on an hourly basis. I would like local agencies to ensure that the career is lucrative so that people will realise that it is a worthy profession.”

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