Twenty-four-year-old Andile Nobuhle Mpofu who holds the title of Miss Zimbabwe USA and Miss Africa Washington state is rising to inspire the African child. She currently works with Champion Dream Builders (CDB) organisation to help children in Zimbabwe. Champion Dream Builders was founded in 2006 to assist disadvantaged and orphaned children and help build their dreams.
the style interview By Nicola Gibson
The Standard Style reporter Nicola Gibson (NG) interviewed the affable Mpofu (AM) who stays in the United States and she shared some insights into her life and charity work.
NG: Tell us a little about your childhood.
AM: I was such a busy child growing up. I started performing at the age of five. My first time being a model was when I modelled for Edgars, after that my mother had my sister and I try ballet. Oh man! And wasn’t ballet just hard! I guess to comfort myself I started telling myself that ballet didn’t even have the adrenalin I was looking for, so I quit! (laughs). I then joined Chipawo when I was in Grade 3. I joined the Blackstone Primary School Chipawo centre. I am not sure if they still have it there, it was epic! At my age, that was my everything! I would sing and dance and rehearse from anywhere and everywhere. That’s what sparks in my head when I think of my childhood. My dad and mum would drive my sister and I every Saturday to Harare from Mazowe for rehearsals, even when it was the only thing they had to do in Harare.
Even in school, at Amandas Primary School, I was always busy on stage. I had a teacher by the name Mr Kaseke who would teach us performing arts. How I remember his bold voice yelling my name reminding me what I would have forgotten. Like I said, I had a busy childhood. I wanted to do everything, absolutely everything, and my parents supported me all the time. Even when it was inconvenient for them, they still did support me every step of the way and for that I am truly thankful.
NG: Let’s play favourites: what’s your favourite music, book, film, artist and food.
AM: I do not really have one favourite. I am a woman of many favourites. But jazz, classical and gospel music have a special place in my heart.
As for books, I read The Long Walk to Freedom and I loved it. It must be the only thick book that I entirely loved; most of them end up just being too long for me and boring. My excuse being I am more of a numbers person, give me a calculator while you read those thick books and we will be fine.
NG: What scares you?
AM: Failure, the thought of me not achieving the goals I have set for myself. Growing up and not being able to afford or live the life I have always wanted to live just because I failed somehow somewhere today.
NG: Tell us about modelling.
AM: It is a lot of work, no matter the type of modelling you are getting into. I did not know that. I thought it was just about make-up, beautiful hair, pose, camera and action! Well, I have learnt that one can easily spend five hours in the studio, take hundreds of pictures only to get 3-5 desired perfect poses. One needs to be willing to work hard and be disciplined. Go into the industry knowing exactly who you are and what you want. if you don’t, someone else will define you. The only problem there is with having someone else define you is you will no longer work towards your goals but someone else’s goal and end up in places and positions you never wanted to be. But also, there is a whole bunch to learn in the industry and a lot of beautiful people to meet. It is an industry where if you are again willing to put in the work, you will find to be fun and rewarding.
NG: If you could change something about the industry, what could it be?
AM: If I could change anything about the industry it would probably be how people look at it. I feel like a lot of people undermine the platform it is. For the most part, it is those that are not part of it that do not understand how much of an amazing platform it is. Most people think it is an industry where women walk up and down naked — NO! That is wrong. It has groomed me to be a better woman, a responsible citizen, given me the resources and tools I have always wanted to bring better change in my community. Not only that, I have also learnt how to express myself on stage, through my clothing and just through my everyday life. So if I would change anything about the modelling industry, it would be how other people that I would love to have support me, look at it and benefit through me.
NG: Why did you decide to get into modelling?
AM: I seem to be asked this question a lot. I love modelling, I have always loved modelling. But I did not pursue it just for the love of it. Modelling is my talent, that is my gift but I have a bigger purpose to live for. I have goals and dreams I cannot achieve all by myself. My work is to help the forgotten children in my community and beyond attain a basic education while feeding them for success, but I do not have the resources to do this. I want to advocate for these children that they too be given a shot in life. So I will use the titles I hold. I will use the voice I have to reach out, and cry out on their behalf. As I meet people with the same passion that I have and some with deeper pockets, I will do what I can to push my platform forward. I have gotten some work done already but the journey just got started. There is still a lot to be done and I am not only talking about in Washington or just in Zimbabwe. turn on the world news and take a look at what is really going on around the world; the world needs each and every one of us and we too need the world. For this reason I decided to pursue modelling, so I can be better empowered and be the instrument I was created to be.
NG: What other projects have you been working on?
AM: As Miss Africa Washington, I have been up to quite a number of projects within my community. To start with I have done runway fashion shows. From the small upcoming African designers to the big African designers such as the talented Ugandan fashion designer, Latif Madoi of Latif Designs. Latif is a Ugandan designer who has travelled around fashion shows showcasing his undeniable talent which includes sewing dresses on the spot for randomly picked audience guests. When I modelled for Latif, he sewed four dresses in about 20 minutes. The dresses fit perfectly and were perfectly sewn. In the spirit of bringing the African culture to the United States, I have also taken part in a festival called Umoja festival that has been hosted once every year in Seattle, Washington State. Umoja Fest brings the soul to Sea fair; it comes right at the end of Sea fair! It is a festival seeking to celebrate the best of the African American community and African Diaspora culture in the Pacific North West featuring music, food, fashion shows and culture. During this festival I had an opportunity to model for Best of Both Worlds. it was such an honour to be part of this and share my talent to bring cultures together and learn from each other. Finally, on the runway projects, I have also had the great honour to model for Ruby’s Closet — an organisation that seeks to provide formal attire to teens facing financial challenges across the Washington State, enabling them to participate in high school milestone events. These teens come from all over the parts of Washington State to get a dress that they get to keep for no charge at all.
NG: When was the Miss Africa Washington pageant held and how do you feel about winning?
AM: Miss Africa Washington pageant was held on September 3 in 2016. Winning Miss Africa Washington was just unbelievable; I had all the amazing feelings going through my veins when I was announced as the Miss Africa Washington State 2016. However, I would have really loved to have my parents in the audience watching me being crowned, they probably would have cried with me.
NG: Are you hoping to bring your modelling skills back to Zimbabwe?
AM: Oh wow, I would totally love to. There is no better place for me to take my modelling than home. I would learn a tonne from one of Zimbabwe’s talents, not only in the modelling industry but also from those doing all sorts of outreaches back home. I would love to use my talents to make positive impacts in the lives of the less disadvantaged. Just to use my talents to help those in need be heard a little more loudly in the community.
NG: What has modelling changed about you?
AM: Modelling has not changed anything about me. Modelling just helped me come out of the shell a little sooner than I anticipated. I have worked closely with a couple of people in my life that have just helped me come out of my shell and be more of who I have always wanted to be. My parents and my aunt and uncle are there to keep me grounded, focused and cheer me on. my mentor Davies Chirwa has been there to push me to reach for the stars and keep me on my toes all the time, reminding me of those goals I set for myself and helping me archive them, while the founder and CEO of Miss Africa Washington State has been there to make sure I have all I need to do what I need. she has literally been my backbone as far as my work is concerned. So with all this support and resources, I was just bound to blossom to be more of the person I was intended to be, not to change to be someone else I am not.
NG: What things are you going to change during your reign as Miss Africa Washington?
AM: As much as I would want to bring change in this world, I believe that before change comes, our vessels should be ready for the change we want. Before someone comes to bring change, someone has to do the work to prepare those that receive it. My job is to be a voice for the forgotten children. To help those children attain basic education.
To make sure they are fed, fed for success. I do this so that when change comes, they too are ready, academically ready for the change that would have come in their lives. They will not always lack, one day it shall be well with them. in the meantime, I will work to do my best to help the less disadvantaged children in my community attain a basic education, while feeding them for success so that when change comes, they do not miss out but capitalise and are set up for success.