BY WINSTONE ANTONIO THE country’s pageantry industry continues to make great strides with Zim Gossip Models Agency founder Mercy “Catwalk” Mushaninga pushing hard for its recognition beyond the local ramp.
Mushaninga, who has been in the modelling industry for over two decades now, is credited for grooming a number of models who have graced prestigious local and international modelling ramps.
She is behind the success of such models as former Miss Zimbabwe (2011) Malaika Mushandu, Miss Teen Zimbabwe (2012) Soraya Vallabah and former 2011 Miss Southern Africa Evelyn Gond, among others.
Although Mushaninga appears to be living her desire to see Zimbabwe participating at many of the prestigious modelling pageants, she has faced sponsorship challenges in grooming young models.
But she has never let that dampen her spirits and through her exploits, Zimbabwe has been granted the Little Mister and Miss Universe licence.
The Little Mister and Miss Universe is a pageant that seeks to discover, nurture and support modelling talent from young ages of four to 19.
The pageant, which has been hosted for the past six years, also promotes tourism, culture and education.
Speaking to NewsDay Life & Style, the elated Mushaninga said she felt empowered to be taking 20 children to participate at the world ramp from October 25 to 30 in Dubai.
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“Getting the Little Mister and Miss Universe licence is a great honour that shows our pageantry industry is being recognised at the international level,” she said.
“Participating at such a prestigious ramp gives our rising models the much-needed exposure that helps in building their confidence as they shape their modelling careers.”
The modelling guru said models played a big role in marketing the country, but unlike in other countries there was no meaningful support for the local pageantry.
“There are over 40 countries registered to participate at the pageant and this is a great opportunity to market brand Zimbabwe to the world through arts, culture and talent,” she said.
“This opportunity to market our country comes at the right time our President Emmerson Mnangagwa is supporting youth programmes. Our theme is Presidents Against Child Abuse and that is the banner the selected 20 models will carry to Dubai.”
Mushaninga said corporates should see value in sponsoring and partnering the pageant.
“Modelling is part of skills developed through art and talent. The local modelling industry is being hindered by lack of support from the corporate world,” she said.
Representatives at the Little Miss and Mister Universe will be drawn from the recently held Little Mister and Miss Zimbabwe pageant.
“The Little Miss and Mister Universe will be hosted in October 2022, and a team of 20 models from Zimbabwe will be selected,” she said, adding that the team would be placed in different categories from four to 19 years.
Mushaninga said the empowerment pageant also promoted culture, heritage, and diversity.
“The Little Miss and Mister Universe representatives will work on projects that promote arts and culture in Zimbabwe. Handle issues to do with child abuse through Eugene Zimbudzi’s project called Presidents Against Child Abuse,” she said.
“They will also promote children in arts through the International StarChild Festival and work with relevant authorities in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health.”
She added: “The venture is designed to showcase our culture, beauty, talents, intelligence, develop, empower and promote national leadership of young Zimbabweans in the country.
“One of the aspirations of Little Miss and Mister Universe is to bring together people from all over the World to celebrate the beauty of culture exchange and promote arts and tourism.”
This is not the first time for Mushaninga to clinch an international pageantry licence, in 2020, she was approved by African Models and Pageants Agency as Zimbabwe’s sole holder of Mister Africa Continent licence franchise.
Mushaninga is also the Africa Beauty Association chairperson and a holder of many pageantry licences which include Miss Curvy Africa, Battle of the Models Africa and Africa Super Model.
She is also the patron of Little Mr and Miss Zimbabwe, Miss Petite Zimbabwe, Mister Zimbabwe, Miss Curvy Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Models Awards.
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