SNEAK PEEK :Darlington Mwashita
BULAWAYO model Bernard “BenChest” Ndlovu, who was crowned Mister Zimbabwe 2019-2020 Brand Ambassador after shrugging off stiff competition from 14 other models at a pageant held at Dream Night in Harare on December 28, has expressed excitement over the honour and pledged to invest on aspiring models.
Ndlovu was honoured in a pageant which is a brainchild of Zimbabwe Gossip Models agency founder Mercy “Catwalk” Mushaninga. NewsDay (ND) life & style reporter Darlington Mwashita spoke to Ndlovu (BN) over the pageant, future plans and trends in the local modelling industry. Below are the excerpts from the interview.
ND: First of all, congratulations on your being crowned Mister Zimbabwe 2019-2020 Brand Ambassador. What does the crowning mean for you personally?
BN: The crowning means a lot to me as a model and personally, I see it as time for me to help and invest in other aspiring models. When you achieve that big as a model, it is a must that you build a legacy. On another note, some would think it is time to retire. But I say it is time to go bigger, as far as Mr Africa, Mr World and Mr Universe.
ND: What would your role be as brand ambassador? Do you already have some programmes lined up?
BN: As a brand ambassador, my role is to market and advertise the impact and efforts of all models towards building a solid modelling industry in our country and also teaching our Zimbabwean culture to the outside world. We are still working on the line-up with the Zimbabwe Models Awards Association.
ND: In February 2018, you were the first Zimbabwean model to be selected to represent the country in the Amsterdam Fashion Week extravaganza in the United States. What were your takeaways from that experience and what value has it brought to your modelling career?
BN: Due to lack of funds and sponsorship I couldn’t travel, but, however, the designer used sent images on the fashion week to showcase both the model and the garment designs. The designs did very well and qualified for the next episode and I should be travelling in November.
ND: You featured in Dancing in the Storm, a television series. Is there any connection between your modelling and acting careers?
BN: The two are connected. My two greatest passions, acting and modelling, complement each other.
ND: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
BN: I draw my inspiration from God. I talk to Him like He is my father and draw all my strength from Him. I strive to do the best in everything I do and try by all means to be a good role model to the younger generation.
ND: When you first ventured into modelling, what was the reaction from your family and friends? How about now?
BN: As always, they discourage you and tell you what you should venture into instead, but because the passion was too strong, it conquered.
ND: Are you married or seeing anyone? Do women throw themselves at you by virtue of being a successful male model?
BN: I am married and also I am a father. I have learnt to balance my work very well with family responsibilities. As an artist, it is of paramount value to practise self-control.
ND: What would you say have been the major highlights of your modelling career?
BN: Winning Best Bulawayo Male Model #RoilBaa2019, winning Zimbabwe models Best Promotional Model and Most Handsome Model, also featuring on Jah Prayzah’s music video, Sadza Nemuriwo, as a model character and, above all, winning Mr Zimbabwe Brand Ambassador 2020.
ND: What are your expectations and plans for 2020?
BN: I am expecting to build and lay great foundations and I see it as time to go international.
ND: It seems female models are more popular than their male counterparts, what would you attribute that to?
BN: Female pageants get sponsorship more than male pageants and that is why female models become more popular.
ND: What are the things you enjoy doing away from modelling and acting?
BN: I enjoy chilling out with family and friends, going out and socialising, travelling, music and I also enjoy doing business. I own a gaming shop at Haddon and Sly.
ND: BenChest, what does that moniker mean? How did it come about?
BN: The name came about from friends. At first I would reject it, but it grew so fast I could not resist it. They said it is because of my big chest (Laughs).
ND: Some trend watchers say growing a beard is now the in-thing, what would you say about that?
BN: It is and if you notice, I am growing mine. It is just fun and cool to keep and easier to maintain than shaving every two days.
ND: As a model, is it not expensive to maintain a winning look? Do you have a look for the stage and one for home?
BN: A winning look must come naturally. As an international model, you do not have to try too hard. These are the secret pointers you are taught at a tender stage in modelling. At the stage of maturity, it becomes culture and not an expense.
ND: What is your biggest dream as a male model?
BN: My biggest dream is to have my own big label like Gucci and Versace.
ND: There are too many good-looking male models out there, what does it take to be a winner?
BN: It takes courage, confidence, prayer and wisdom.
ND: Any word to the upcoming male models?
BN: Never allow anyone to tell you what you can or cannot do. Follow your heart and believe in yourself. The sky is the limit. Do not be afraid to dream big. Modelling is not a walk in the park, neither is it an overnight dream come true; it requires patience and true passion. If you have that dream of modelling, do not be afraid of criticism. It is part of the package. Just keep going.