Someone once said that true success means living out your
unique life’s purpose and that who you believe you are, how you relate to
others, and how you engage with the world around you is directly aligned with your
purpose. Thulani Ndzotyana, is a 21-year-old model from the Eastern Cape who came
to Joburg to uncover her purpose. Over the years, she was accorded many titles in
the pageants and continues to strive for more accomplishments, including occupying
the highest office in South Africa in 2044. She opened up and shared her life
story with me.
Tell me about growing up as a little in the Eastern Cape?
I’m a proud product of the New Brighton Town in “the friendly city” of Port Elizabeth. Growing up a kilometer away from the Red Location township was quite eventful and colourful. I took part in traditional Xhosa dancing, sports, and modeling. It was here that I realised that I had a passion for giving back and that I wanted to make a difference in my impoverished community.
What were your dreams and aspirations?
As a child, I wanted to serve in the military, but as I grew older, at 12 years old to be exact, my aspirations shifted. I had new aspirations of becoming the President one day. Then later, I made a declaration that: I Thulani Ndzotyana aspire towards becoming the President of South Africa in the year 2044. This is an ambition I continue to work towards, and it is fuelled by my passion to empower and boost the low morale of the youth in my township.
When did you start modeling?
Growing up, I was tall and thin, as a result, they called me ‘slender’ and ‘model’. So, I started to have the desire to pursue modeling. Then, I entered a pageant called Miss Gunguluza named after our street. I was the second runner up, in a group of girls who were much older than me. Thereafter, I signed up with Extreme Models, a modeling agency in Port Elizabeth for a period of five years. Being part of the agency boosted my confidence and gave me an opportunity to walk for brands like Edgars, Truworths, and Legit. I also became the Face of Extreme Models for 2012-2013.
When did you realise that you could model professionally?
Whilst with Extreme Models, I figured that if I moved to Johannesburg or Cape Town, I could pursue modeling and actually make a career out of it, as these are the Capital Cities for models in South Africa. Making this decision has proven to be a successful move.
Which modeling agency are you currently signed with?
I am currently signed with Rage Models. It’s an agency that predominantly caters for commercial models, like me. But I am working my way towards becoming a high fashion model and will look for agencies that provide this.
Mention three major modeling gigs that you’ve been booked for thus far
Working as a Production Manager for the Buyel’ekhaya Fashion Show in East London in 2018.
Walking the Huawei P30 show in a Quitteira & George Garment.
Walking the Sof n Free Hair experts show, which showed on DStv channel BET Africa.
Which model do you look up to for inspiration?
Andiswa Manxiwa inspires me, she is not just a supermodel, but a fashion entrepreneur. She also comes from the Eastern Cape and she is one of the most humble and genuine people I have ever met in the industry. Her involvement in the industry spreads throughout the continent. She is our Tyra Banks.
Who inspires you outside the modeling industry?
My mother has been my role model since childhood. She was a teacher in a rough neighbourhood in Port Elizabeth, Motherwell who opened up our home to those of her students who were in need. She has taught me a lot about caring for others and she always gives me affirmation that all my dreams are valid.
As a football fanatic, I am also inspired by David Kekana ( who sadly passed away recently). His knowledge of sports was remarkable, and I looked up to him for guidance. He was a football encyclopedia. His passing is a huge loss to our nation. May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace!
As an aspiring radio personality, I also draw inspiration from Bob Mabena. His career and journey continue to prove that he is a living legend.
Tell me about winning Miss Mamelodi Sundowns last year –
why you entered, the competition and the winning experience
Winning Miss Mamelodi Sundowns was a blessing that I still thank God for to date. The title changed my life for the better and brought me closer to my dreams. I will forever be grateful to the President of the club Patrice Motsepe and his wife Dr. Precious Moloi Motsepe. Through this title, I was able to meet great women, and build a sisterhood that extends beyond the provincial title holders. I had always wanted to get involved with the Foundation, so, being their Ambassador was not only a dream but a crucial part of the validation of my dreams.
How did winning this title boost your modeling career?
This opened various opportunities and allowed me to mentor
and judge in other pageants, like Miss Ekurhuleni and Little Miss Soweto.
Tell me more about model training
During my reign as Miss Mamelodi Sundowns, it was an honour for me to spend time traveling in the townships of Tshwane and motivating students. Many girls approached me seeking advice and mentorship. My training involved catwalk or pageant walks and speech articulation. In 2019, The Model Academy asked me to train their catwalk course. I am currently training upcoming models about posing, model etiquette, and scams. I also do private training and have taken part in pageants like Face of Devotion Mzantsi 2018. Later this year, I will be traveling to the Limpopo Province in Matlelerekeng, to train the Miss Moutse contestants.
What is the Helping Hand initiative about?
Helping Hand is what I call my first self-driven initiative, founded in December of 2017. I collected non-perishable goods and hygienic goods using social media and collecting from my family and friends. Together we collected 25 food parcels and distributed them to car guards and street vendors. In 2018, we gave food parcels to 60 families based in Gauteng and Port Elizabeth. I was blessed, to be sponsored by PUMA South Africa for my ‘Kicks with Goals’ initiative last year. This was aimed at encouraging students of Masiqhakaze High School to continue kicking towards their goals in exchange for Puma sneakers and grocery parcels for their families. This year in August, I distributed 30 food parcels in Johannesburg as part of my ‘Winter Drive’ initiative.
Tell me about #2044
I think I answered this question in my dreams. However, for now, vision #2044, seeks to establish and create initiatives which address some of the social issues we have in South Africa. There is a lot that I am currently working on in this regard and it is beginning to materialise. In due course, the impact of my vision will be realised in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. I plan to expand it nationally to ensure that we produce some sustainable solutions to beneficiaries in the foreseeable future.
You have an athletic body – what do you attribute this
Fitness is something I’ve incorporated into my lifestyle for creative purposes. I think and plan better when I am at the gym. I am also blessed to be built like my late father; whose legs were very toned. In 2020 I hope when this question is asked, I can attribute it to healthy eating as well.
Tell me more about your ambitions of becoming a President
in 2044. Is this a serious plan with a strategy in place?
I play life by the hand God serves me. I have academic goals, and I have a vision board. The #2044 project for me is to expand my knowledge, to discover opportunities and share with South Africa. #2044 for me is about being the difference I want to see in our nation. It is about breaking boundaries as a young black girl in South Africa and I hope that completing my B Com Law Degree will further develop my skills in pursuing this movement. When I was asked at school what I wanted to be, I said a South African President. In High School, I dreamt of my inauguration day and all I remembered from that dream were banners behind with 2044 written on them. My mother laughed and was fascinated when I told her about this dream. She then shared it with her colleague who counted that 2044 would actually be an election year. My mother and I believe that this was God’s hand validating my dreams.
Do you think you have what it takes to occupy the highest
office in SA and why?
Every day, I take steps towards making South Africa a better place, and every day is a learning curve.
Where does your ambition, drive and passion stem from?
These stem from having a mother who validates my dreams by simply believing in me and holding me accountable to my words.
What message do you have for young girls who look up to
In a world that continues to be shaped by social media; do not allow this to change who you are. Strive towards being the best version of yourself. Love yourself and everything else in your life will flow from your heart. Remember that your current circumstances don’t define who you are. Your dreams are valid! Also, remember that Rome was not built in a day.
When three, dynamic, and intellectual women endeavour to pursue
a venture together, it is most certainly guaranteed to be a great initiative. The
exceptional trio, Ndihone Ndzinisa, Sizani Ngobeni and Thando Soko joined
forces to launch Mrs South Africa Green in March this year.
This is not just a pageant, but it is a movement fuelled by a passion
promote and increase awareness of a healthy, sustainable and enviro-conscious
society. It is a pretty phenomenal pageant and leadership programme for
married women between the ages of 21 and 50 who are driven and passionate
about their communities with an outstanding knowledge of environmental issues.
Mrs South Africa Green seeks to connect with women who are wives,
in some cases mothers, entrepreneurs and dedicated social change makers who are
authentic and relatable. The brand is about beauty with a purpose and geared up
to becoming the country’s leading pageant and a revered female empowerment
program for ‘green’ conscious married women in South Africa.
“Our mission is to promote the importance of saving our planet environmentally. In addition to helping protect the environment, we are going to use the pageant as a platform to showcase the ecotourism aspects of our beautiful country by way of sensitizing the rest of South African citizens and international visitors alike about the importance of sustainable travel, says Ndihone.
In line with its ‘Pretty Down to Earth and Pretty Green’ tag
line, the Mrs South Africa Green aims to become a one-stop ‘green-eco’ living
advocacy platform for sustainable living – from green living to conserving
water and energy as well as protecting wildlife and saving plastic pollution.
“The first woman who will be crowned Mrs South Africa Green,
will be a person that truly understands that human nature impacts Mother
Nature, which is why she will lead the way to responsible living, promoting
sustainable developments,” says Sizani.
“We believe that feminism is not about making women strong
or empowered. Women are already empowered, strong and are natural leaders in
their personal, family, professional, business and community lives,” she adds.
“We aim to crown a global role model to represent the honest values of South Africa, whilst promoting Mother Earth. We also aim to promote awareness around household waste management and community waste reduction,” concludes Thando.
About the Founders
is a wife, mother and an entrepreneur who is passionate about nature
conservation, beauty and education. As a businesswoman she helps other women to
fully explore their potential in life. She owns a Multidisciplinary company
namely Ndihone Holdings (PTY) Ltd.
She is also a Co-Owner of Sithandi PR and Events which co-owns Mrs South Africa Green.
Sizani Ngobeni is a Medical Practitioner, who also holds a post graduate diploma in occupational medicine and health, with a special interest in Aesthetic medicine. In the 17 years that she has been working as a medical practitioner she developed a passion in uplifting the lives and roles of women in her community. She is a director at Sithandi PR Events and Mrs South Africa Green.
Thando Soko is a wife and entrepreneur. She holds an Honours Degree in Human Resource Management and a Certificate in Payroll. She is a Director of Rito Construction South Africa, Director of Tido Hygienic Services and Co-Owner of Sithandi PR & Events. Thando is passionate about women leadership movements, community development and giving back
Would you do a
“playboy” shoot? “A big YEBO!” says 22-year old Soweto based model, Tebogo
Ngakane. Posing in a risqué shoot, stripping off and baring all is for many models
not exactly a comfortable experience, whatever the context. But for her, posing
nude is an empowering experience.
She pushes boundaries in every shoot that she does and says nude shoots can have a positive effect on women: ” Personally, it never really bothers me, but I can see how it might be confronting for some. It makes me feel very womanly and empowered,” she says.
bring an erotic, sensual or emotional edge to a photograph and as such, it has
become such a popular theme in high fashion. “I’m the most comfortable in
my own skin. Besides creating beautiful images and giving me a full-time
career, posing nude has helped me grow both as a model and as a person. It’s my
way of showing diversity and sexiness. Models
are definitely expected to be comfortable being naked. A lot of
the time you are expected to change in front of people on set,
be comfortable stripping off in line while changing looks. Most of
the time people are pretty considerate but in saying that, you are expected
just to get on with it and do your job and make it fast,” she says.
But Tebogo does
different types of modelling, not just nudes. She is inspired by Somali born
fashion model, actress and entrepreneur – Iman. “I’ve been a model for as long
as I can remember and have always loved fashion and looking different. I have
found power in fashion. I admire and respect her Iman so much. I think she’s just
perfect,” she says.
She has worked
with some of the South African and International brands. “I work with lots of
photographers and do a lot of travelling. But I want to work with as many
photographers, brands and collaborate with other models too,” says Tebogo.
When asked what she wouldn’t do when it comes to modelling, she said: “Settling for less when it comes to my craft and allowing people to bring me down. NEVER!” she says.
However, she points out challenges that she encounters in the industry. “I’m passionate about modelling and it is what I do for a living. There is nothing as disheartening as being booked for a shoot and not getting paid for it. Also, photographers can be very degrading towards models and if you aren’t strong enough, you will never make it. Don’t allow fear to be your worst enemy,” she says.
Is the modeling
industry more diverse and accepting now? Atteridgeville – Pretoria born model and
actress Lelizwe Sibisi, would like to think so.
25-year-old, signed with District Models,
reflects on changing perceptions in an industry that hasn’t always been known
for broad notions of beauty.
The modeling industry has tossed aside its
strict height requirements and is now embracing models of any size, age, and
ethnicity too. Instead of focusing on how tall a model is, modeling agencies
are focusing on the whole package: beauty, personality, professionalism, and so
much more. However, it is important to note that some
industries will be harder to break into. High fashion and runway do tend to favour
personally haven’t experienced any challenges. I think we’re gradually moving
away from those restrictions. I’ve found the industry to be more welcoming to
people who previously wouldn’t “qualify” as models based on their looks,” says
In the past, models were often a major factor in establishing
society’s standards of beauty. Now, as beauty standards become more inclusive,
they’re shaping the types of models we see making their way down the runway.
doesn’t always come with confidence, but a confident person automatically
exudes beauty; it radiates from the inside,” she says.
However, she expresses that the stereotype that the only thing models are good for is looking pretty, and the expectation for models to be perfect, is disheartening. “We’re constantly under pressure to prove ourselves to be educated women who are more than capable of applying our minds to different issues that affect the world we live in,” she says.
As a model, Lelizwe seeks to align herself with brands which speak
to who she is as a person. She is a successful new model and a Brand ambassador
for Style Alert SA, a Joburg based clothing brand. She explains how she was
discovered; “Thuli Mola, owner of the Style Alert was looking for an ambassador
at the time and she came across my pictures on social media. Someone in her
team knew a friend of mine and we got in touch from there,” she says.
“I relate very much to the kind of woman the brand speaks to.
As a result, I never really have to step outside of who I am in order to align
myself with what the brand stands for. In essence, my job requires me to
continue being myself while wearing their different styles of clothing. The
brand itself is very chic and effortless. This makes my job very easy, I always
try not to model the clothes too much and really just let them speak for
themselves,” she says.
I want to
see my name and face on a Vogue cover… It’s only a matter of time!
Her dreams and aspirations as a little girl were to make an
impact, but at that time, she didn’t know in what way. But Lelizwe says it later
became clear that she wanted to be at the forefront. She says, looking at her
life and career now, she thinks that she has achieved her dreams and aspirations.
“I’m very proud of my achievements so far. I do, however, believe that I’ve only just scraped the surface. There’s still so much more to conquer. I dream big, that means I must be willing to work hard and smart to get there,” she says.
Lelizwe is also a BA Drama graduate signed under Leads Artists and very passionate about the craft.
Here’s a quick Q&A on her acting career
roles have you played so far?
I have played the role of Becky in a television series called
High Rollers on SABC 3. Playing this role was a learning and rewarding
of role do you wish to play one day and why?
Any role that challenges me. The more I’m able to stretch
myself as an actress, the better.
you prepare prior to a photoshoot or a tv camera?
My theatre training has taught me to always get in the zone
before any of my shoots. I’m a big fan of music so, I usually jam to my favourite
songs and get my energy up.
think acting and modeling complement each other in some way?
They do. I’ve taken many lessons from my theatre training and applied
them to modeling.
It seems 2019 is a celebratory year for international model, lawyer and activist – Thando Hopa as she celebrates being named BBC Top 100 most influential woman, last month. This month, she makes history as she becomes the first woman with albinism to be featured on the cover of Vogue Portugal.
“We are the ones we have been waiting for”
She expressed her emotions about this on social media and
said; “I once said to a close friend that it would really be lovely to see a
woman with albinism on a Vogue Cover. I would not have imagined that that woman
would be me. “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” I’m
emotional, because I see progress and get to form part of a progressive story
and narrative. I got to a place in my career where I appreciate every specimen
of my body and knowing that wherever I go, my existence, the way it is, has
always and will always be enough.”
As Wayne Chirisa rightfully put it, “Beauty is a flamboyant spectacle, it never goes unnoticed.” Mihlali ‘Mimi’Nxanga exudes such incredible, effortless, pure and subtle yet noticeable beauty. The 16-year-old radiates natural beauty, so much so that she would choose to wear makeup, but only to enhance, never to create.
She was born in in Cape Town but raised in Johannesburg where she says, for as long as she
can remember, she has always wanted to be a model. Well! She definitely has the
face of a model. Mimi says whilst other kids spoke about being firemen and
doctors, she had a strong aspiration to be up on a ramp.
“Whilst my mom was at work, I would prance around in her high heels and as I grew older, I was eager to own a pair of my own. When I finally got my first pair, at 11 years old, I basically lived in them for a month. I’ve also always enjoyed being in front of the camera and my mom often teased me about how camera ready I always am. My dad has never really been sold on the whole modeling industry, so I waited until I was 14 years old and in Grade 8, to pursue modeling professionally,” says Mimi.
first introduced to pageantry through the TV show ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’. “I
remember my friend and I strung together our own modeling routines from what we
saw on the show. We’d have our own little pageants in my room and occasionally,
when my parents had guests over, they’d be invited to watch. All the pageants I
do are for various charities, so they are my fun way of giving to the under
privileged. Pageants are a great way to play dress up, pamper myself, whilst showing
support to the less fortunate and learning fundamental life skills, such as
public speaking,” she says.
She has entered
several beauty parades but the one she is most proud of is winning the Miss Beach Body South Africa 2018. “It
was my first time walking on stage in a bikini and I hadn’t done any previous
swimwear pageants. I am proud of myself, because it really does take courage to
get onto the ramp, more so in a bikini,” she says.
to pageants, she is an editorial and commercial model where she gets to fulfill
her yearn for being in front of the camera. Being an editorial model has exposed
her to the larger professional modeling industry, and she believes that it will
elevate her to the global scale as a model. Because of her height, she is unable
to accomplish her dream of being on a ramp.
But Mimi will have you know that she is now very much content with being an editorial model. She signed with Model HQ in April of last year and says she has no regrets. “The agency has helped me to build a strong foundation and an understanding of the industry. They have opened and are still opening numerous doors for me. Since signing with the agency, I have been to five commercial castings for big corporate companies and although I have unfortunately not been booked yet, they have all been educational experiences. I have learnt to always carry myself in a professional manner and to be punctual. Time is crucial in this industry and the people hate it when you waste theirs. Castings have also taught me to be more patient and to deal with rejection in a constructive way. In addition to the castings, Model HQ has also booked my first test shoot. I assimilated different poses, facial awareness, makeup and style tips. They made sure that the images from this shoot would gain a significant reach and it is evident that they have,” she says.
In as much
as the modeling industry is trying to move away from that stigma surrounding
the industry, how models must be stick thin and the pressure to maintain that image.
A model is expected to embody perfection. But Mimi is adamantly trying to steer
away from this mindset and instilled pressure by the industry as she profoundly
puts it; “We often need to remind ourselves that we are our own definition of
beauty. Getting jobs is not just about being tall and skinny, it’s about what
the client is looking for, we shouldn’t doubt ourselves just because we don’t
get booked. There are so many more other opportunities and avenues that will
avail themselves. We feel the pressure from others to live a perfectly balanced
life, have a toned body, be tall, have clear skin, dress a certain way and
ultimately not show any signs of weakness. We also put pressure on ourselves by
developing misperceptions, from what we hear and what social media depicts, as
to what being beautiful is.”
her strength as a model lies in her ability to adapt quickly in this
fast-paced, ever changing and last-minute industry. She alludes to the fact that
it is imperative to ‘stay on your toes’ as anything could happen at any time
and as such, her adaptability and versatility works in her favour.
people would not reveal what their weaknesses are, Mimi is quick to admit and
point out her flaws of constantly comparing herself to others. She honestly
expresses that she generally has self-doubt and constantly looks for qualities
she doesn’t have that she sees in others. When I was younger, my mom would
always tell me that I can’t always have what others have and that I should stop
making comparisons. Now, I feel that I should’ve listened and gained that
mentality earlier because I don’t like being consumed by obstacles but rather
want to find solutions. I am learning ways to improve on this weakness,” she elaborates.
Mimi is also a dancer of note. She is currently a professional MGHHDA dancer, but her dance journey started much earlier. “I did ballet from grade 1 to grade 3 then moved onto hip hop in grade 4. I dabbled a bit in acrobatics and started modern dancing in grade 6. In grade 7, I started SADTA dance exams in modern freestyle until grade 9. During this time, I tried to pick up ballet again to help with technique and flexibility, but it didn’t last very long. Then, halfway through grade 9, I joined MGHHDA. I do contemporary and hip hop and take part in various competitions. In fact, this year I am going to compete in Portugal,” she gloats.
beauty and fitness regimen includes dancing 5-6 hours per week, playing netball
twice a week, going to gym three times a week and occasionally goes for a run. For
a healthy glowing skin, Mimi says, because of her
skin, she uses the Body Shop’s tea tree oil line for her face. “I wash my face
twice a day with the foam wash, then put tea tree oil over any pimples and
blemishes. Thereafter I use a face lotion and Blue Seal Vaseline to keep the
natural glow. I scrub my face and use a mask two to three times a week. I also
use the Body Shop’s body butter and shower gel on the rest of my body. I use
hair removal cream to shave instead of razors, to avoid ingrown hairs. With
regards to makeup, I make sure to keep my brushes clean and check the expiry
date of the makeup and make sure to wash it off thoroughly after application,” concludes