A YOUNG and beautiful Malaika Mushandu catwalked on a grand ramp as a contestant at the 2011 edition of the then Miss Zimbabwe beauty pageant (now rebranded to Miss World Zimbabwe).
A strong showing at the pageant on February 13 saw her being crowned as she made history as the youngest (17 years) ever winner of the country’s national flagship pageant.
On the same night, she was also crowned Miss Photogenic as well as Miss Top Model and walked away with prizes amounting to US$22 000.
In that same year, she went on to prove that she was a force to reckon with on the ramp and in the pageantry after she finished in the top 15 at the Miss World Pageant held on November 6.
For achieving such a feat at the Miss World, she became the second person to raise the country’s flag high at such a prestigious pageant.
About a decade later, the 30-year-old Malaika has since spread her wings into the world of film.
In spreading her artistic wings into filmmaking, Malaika says she has not quit modelling that made her famous on the showbiz scene.
“Venturing into filmmaking, I did not quit modelling, rather I shifted my attention and priorities to creating films. When I was younger, I always loved storytelling, so when I got older and realised that there could be a career in the field, I pursued it,” she told NewsDay Life & Style.
“If you are blessed, you find yourself with many talents that you can utilise with ease. That was the case with modelling, acting and making movies. The reason storytelling has taken centrestage is a matter of what I enjoy more between the two.”
Malaika reckons that her one goal in the world of modelling was to make a living.
“As a little girl, I never dreamt that one day I would be a model. I remember in high school, I was in social clubs such as Interact and hosting a pageant, not once did I have the inclination to partake in it. Only after high school I was scouted by Mercy Mushaninga through her Zim Gossip Agency, and I did entertain the thought after much persuasion,” she said.
“I do have to say that the Lord knew what He was doing as His grace saw me groomed and polished to be the person I am today. Modelling brought about confidence to a girl who was born on the left side of the island, it opened doors that seemed beyond my reach and broadened my perspective as to what I can achieve.”
Malaika reckons she made history in 2011 when she contested at Miss Zimbabwe pageant.
“My foray into professional modelling began in 2011, where after winning a number of local and regional pageants, I made history when I was crowned as the youngest Miss Zimbabwe ever,” she recalled.
“During a year-long reign, my role under the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority centred on being a national brand ambassador and promoting the nation as an exciting tourist destination. This period also saw me winning various international pageants as well as undertaking a number of philanthropy initiatives, with the most prominent being a water and sanitation project with Aquamor.”
Malaika reckons there are many facets to modelling, pageantry, runway, editorial, commercial with the constant thing for her being to learn what is needed for every job.
“If it was back then when I did pageantry, it would be what did the pageant stand for, for example, Miss World stood for beauty with a purpose. To conform to that I took projects that spoke to their mission,” she noted.
“We embarked on a water and sanitation project that saw us build, dig, and educate people on how to construct low-cost Blair toilets and protected wells. The project was done after the cholera pandemic of 2008-09, so it spoke to a prevailing need to prevent another outbreak.”
She added: “In runway, I pay attention to the look and mood of the designer’s vision. If it is a fierce look, I adjust my walk accordingly. In editorial, I analyse the image trying to be captured if it is a sweet innocent look, I then practise on the mirror angles and looks that capture that look. As I think of it, modelling is all about being a chameleon and acting out what is needed.”
With the modelling industry marred by a lot of negativities such as name-calling, Malaika said: “Like any other industry, the modelling world has its pros and cons. My perspective is to know why you are getting into something and stick to your vision.”
Recalling her best and embarrassing moments, Malaika notes: “There are too many to mention ... hahaha what I will say is that my most memorable moment was losing the Miss World pageant because that was the catapult that thrust me into my true love film.”
As a word of advice to aspiring models, Malaika said: “Modelling is a balance between owning your look (having a signature look character and characteristics) and being able to be malleable, so find your look and be open.”