Zambian models fight on

While many ambitious models have won a title here and there and some progressed to represent the country at various pageants of note, none has made it on the international scene.

Reigning Miss Zambia, Precious Mumbi says resignedly; “There really isn’t much happening in the Zambian beauty pageant world and contestants rarely get what is due to them after the pageants are held in terms of prizes.”

It is part of the reason she made the decision to quit the catwalk.

”My decision to quit modeling is mainly due to the lack of seriousness by those who organise Zambian beauty pageants,” said the 23-year-old Precious.

But while local models are having a tough time making their way to the international catwalk, Zambian models living in the UK are enjoying the benefits of living in a country where good looks have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

And many are excelling. Rosemary Chileshe is a beauty with plenty of brainpower. A holder of a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Property Management, Rosemary is certainly the envy of Zambian models that are yet to experience the bliss of being an internationally recognised face.

It seems the international media cannot get enough of the caramel toned beauty.

Despite making appearances and representing Zambia at various contests, her most prestigious award came when she was selected, along with two other models, to front the Sleek cosmetics campaign for 2005-2006.

Now Rosemary’s face is featured on Sleek Cosmetics products worldwide, in promotional and advertising materials, in magazines, television, retail outlets and the Sleek cosmetics main website.

Apart from the Sleek campaign, Rosemary has received many modeling contracts from different fashion houses, including hair and beauty magazines and cosmetic companies.

She is currently featured in the October/November issue of the Black Magazine and was the runaway model for Black Fashion Designers Network, Jay Wilson’s collection.

Reigning Miss Zambia UK since 2003, Rosemary, went to represent Zambia at the Miss World contest.

Even though she did not gain a place in the Miss World pageant, she made an impact in China and was among the 10 beauties selected for special appearances.

She appeared on the front page of the Miss World website with Lionel Richie for months as part of the attractions for the Miss World Pageant. Upon her return from the Miss World, Rosemary was selected as one of 10 models in a fashion show to celebrate the first anniversary of OBETV, a satellite television channel aimed at the urban population in the UK which is broadcast to over 204 million viewers across Europe and Africa.

With all this glitz and glamour, Rosemary has this to say about her success: “Achieving all this is an honour. I feel privileged to share my success with all my fellow Zambian’s, because my view is that, if you are obedient, do everything with a fulfilling and faithful heart, you will reach any dream you have in mind. Anything is possible if you visualise where you are heading,” says 26 year old beauty.

Another Zambian fashion professional making a mark on the UK beauty scene is Emma Chisihimba.

Current holder of the Miss Commonwealth Africa title and ex-former Miss Zambia UK 1999, the vivacious Emma has been described on many occasions as a model that exudes brains, beauty and compassion.

As a beauty queen and title-holder, Emma commands a lot of respect in the modeling industry both in the UK and abroad.

She has been a mentor and chaperon to all successive Miss Zambia UK-title holders since her reign, and has sat on many judging panels at beauty pageants.

The Zambian belle has featured in many high-profile international and lifestyle magazines, among them Ovation, Black Hair & Beauty and Pride magazines.

Emma has also modeled for award-winning fashion designers such as Ade Bakare, whose designs are featured at the Royal Ascot, on the red carpet at movie premieres and award ceremonies, and is the favourite dresser among wives of African heads of state.

As a professional model, Emma is currently signed to INSTYLES Model & Artist Management, an international management agency with headquarters in New York and Atlanta. She even appeared on catwalk at a Hollywood summer fashion show.

The Zambian sparkling beauty queen has herself being featured on the red carpet at movie premieres with actors Dave Courtney and Manish Patel. She has been photographed by professional and award winning photographers like Angus Thompson, who photographs top models for hair, beauty and cosmetics campaigns.

Her talents have also extended to movies where she sat on the panel to review award-winning TYOB movie, which went on to garner the award for best picture in the Black and Asian Film Academy Awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

Despite her busy schedule Emma who holds a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Sciences degree in Multi Agents Intelligence Systems (Artificial & Robotic Intelligence) still finds time for charity.

She continues to work with and support many children’s charities and HIV/AIDS orphans in Zambia.

Another former Miss Zambia UK beauty queen is Mambwe Kamanga, who joined the ranks of the world’s top models by becoming the lead and spokes-model for Red Gorilla Clothing, a USA-based hip-hop clothing company launched earlier this year.

“Mambwe has the fire, that hotness, that she brings to the label to align it with the Red Gorilla name. As our spokes-model, Mambwe has the critical qualities that will sell our product to the market, “says Don Knotz, President & CEO of Red Gorilla Clothing.

For this 22-year-old model, fashion has always been her first love. Her modeling career started when she was 16 and participated in the Miss Zambia UK beauty pageant in London.

She went on to represent Zambia at the Miss Queen of Africa and the Face of the Millennium.

Since then, Mambwe has participated in several fashion shows and modeling assignments in the UK and USA .

Born in Zambia , Mambwe grew up in England and went to America for higher education. She trained as a professional model with the prestigious John Casablanca School of Modeling, a division of the Elite Model Agency in the U.S.A. In addition to modeling, Mambwe has studied Media Production at the American International University, in Atlanta.

She now hosts her own celebrity TV chat show, international style. The show is aimed at getting African-American celebrities from film, music and television, to renew their interest and ties with Africa , and contribute to help in the development of the continent.

Another swan ready to embark on an international modeling career is teenage beauty queen, Sphiwe Benasho who returned from the Miss Europe Junior 2006 beauty Pageant two weeks ago with modeling contracts. Sphiwe, who was among the most sought-after by photographers, has received offers of modeling contracts from numerous modeling scouts, magazines and model agencies who attended the final show in Liberec , in search of new faces for their modeling books.

So far, it seems the dark-toned 18-year-old will remain in London for modeling assignments in the UK and Europe.

For models living in Zambia, their hopes lie in Lonah Shawa. A model herself having won the Model of the World Africa- 2004 award in Guangzhou , China, Lonah set up Xpozed Models Incorporated which aims to showcase Zambian models both at home and abroad.

Lorna acts as agent for both male and female models, linking them to various contracts that include fashion and corporate functions.

Hopefully, this will create and open avenues for models whose qualities may appeal to international designers.


November 2006
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