Modelling has often been one of those under-appreciated crafts in Zimbabwean society. From the heights of its popularity in the early 2000s, it has experienced somewhat of a downfall. However, this hasn’t stopped individual models from pushing the envelope in the industry.
Slowly making a name for herself as a model, VTuber, voice over artist and actor is Iwani Mawocha.
The Singapore-based Zimbabwean has featured on the runway for Louis Vuitton, The Front Row Virtual Runway, Nafa, Raffles Design Institute, Puma x BMW, Naiise (Design Orchard), Great Singapore Sale, The New Paper New Face Competition, Zalora, Rural to Ramp and most recently Samsung.
Iwani was also recently featured on the Vogue website in a campaign for a brand named Werable which is up for Vogue’s innovation award because they make fashionable, sustainable clothes that are also easy-to-wear for people with injuries and disabilities!
Iwani has been featured in articles by Elle, GZ Magazine, Her World and NUYOU among others which have elevated the models image. She featured as an extra on the blockbuster movie Crazy Rich Asians and has also taken up roles in theatre.
Iwani is a professional voice actor and a model signed to NOW Model Mgmt (SG), with training for stage and screen acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (UK), Singapore Repertory Theatre (SG) and Ronin Action Group (SG). When she’s not modelling or voice acting, she spends her time live streaming and making music as a 3D virtual character she built called Iwani AI, an Afrofuturistic Android who shapeshifts between Day and Night mode.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Afrofuturistic and Afropolitan design with a minor in computer programming and creative writing from Yale-NUS College, which she graduated from in 2018 as the inaugural Kewalram Chanrai Scholar. She’s an aspiring hyper-polyglot, which means being able to speak 11+ languages. During her time in college, she also studied music at Paris Sorbonne, Czech with the Yale Summer Programme, and Korean at Yonsei University, which she will be returning to in 2022.
After graduation, she became the co-founder and former UI/UX Lead at Panalyt, a Saas startup that uses HR and business data to give companies meaningful and actionable employee insights.
In 2010, she co-founded an organisation called Mustard Seed Africa (MSA) that centres on economic empowerment for women at the grassroots level in Zimbabwe and Swaziland, which she is still involved with today.
Her work in videography and tech has won awards from the United Nations Environment Programme, Hong Kong University and the Girls Impact the World Film Festival. She was the youngest nominee and winner of the Digital Female Leader Awards in the category Global Hero.
She is a published writer and was chosen as a finalist for the Iowa Review Awards 2021. — Greedy South.