NYONI: ‘As a young boy I liked to look and smell good.’

NYONI: ‘As a young boy I liked to look and smell good.’

Future Nyoni hails from the resort town of Victoria Falls. Nyoni works for the Ministry of Home Affairs (Civil Registry Department) as a processing officer and is also a model. He was catapulted into the modelling industry after receiving grooming from Samantha Tshuma at the Open Eye Studio in Bulawayo. The has walked runways in Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa and featured in music videos. This year Nyoni will represent the whole nation at the Mister Africa International.

Picture1-724x1024 NYONI: 'As a young boy I liked to look and smell good.'

Mister Africa International was founded by Ayutonde Twitch in London in 2012 in order to shine a light on often marginalized African male models. Zimbabwe has been represented thrice at the annual pageant and this year it is Nyoni’s chance to shine. We caught up with the enthusiastic model to chat about preparations for the pageant and his career as a model. *KM – Kudzai Mhangwa, FN – Future Nyoni

KM: I read that you trained under Samantha Tshuma. When did modelling become a thing for you?

FN: I believe being a model is in my nature. As a young boy I liked to look and smell good. I used to admire people in magazines and would tell myself that one day I will also appear in those. I happened to meet DJ Baby J who had visited Hwange. He is the person who catapulted my modeling career. Then in 2017 I joined Open Eye Studio where I was professionally groomed by Samantha Tshuma.

KM: Walk us through your modelling journey thus far?

FN: Since 2017 I have participated in several shows in Zimbabwe and across borders. These include, Fashion Fights Cancer in Bulawayo (2018), Mr. Zimbabwe competition (2020) where I won three awards and 2021 when I was crowned Mr. Senior Zimbabwe (2022), Beautiful Africa Fashion Show in Malawi (2022) and Global African Fashion Coalition in South Africa (2023). I have done commercial shoots for Savannah Adventures and Rukoko Safaris in Victoria Falls.

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KM: We hear a lot of negativities associated with the industry such as vanity and how difficult it is to have longevity as a model. What are your personal comments on working as a model, especially in Zimbabwe and Africa?

FN: Being a model especially in Zimbabwe is quite a difficult journey. We lack sponsorship and support but in other African countries modeling is quite a lucrative industry.

KM: What are some of the challenges you have come across personally and how have you overcome?

FN: Most people believe modeling is for women and as a result I have faced some resistance from family, friends, and church members. Since modeling is my passion, I don’t allow any external forces to divert what I love and strongly believe in. For modeling I can break a leg.

KM: I read a newspaper article that spoke of the greatest models Zimbabwe has seen and the article was all about women! Do you believe male models have it harder out there?

FN: It’s heartbreaking to think of it. I believe that both males and females should be awarded equal opportunities in this industry. Fortunately, of late, the perception is slowly changing in the right direction, and I believe we will break through the hurdles we are facing.

KM: What are your future hopes for the modeling industry?

FN: I’m looking forward to seeing male modeling scaling up, being appreciated more, and receiving increased sponsorship across the country so that it becomes sustainable. My thrust is seeing aspiring male models in the countryside getting the opportunity to discover themselves as well because it appears as if it’s only meant for those in urban areas.

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KM: So, you will be representing our whole country at Mister Africa International Zimbabwe! Big, big congratulations! How did you get here and how are you feeling about the whole situation?

FN: I responded to the casting call and during the process I got selected. Thank you so, so much. It’s such a great opportunity for me and I feel honored to be part of the bigger male pageant in Africa.

KM: How are preparations for the pageant going?

FN: It’s not easy journey, trust me. Getting sponsorship especially in my city where only tourism is the real deal, it’s indeed a big challenge, but well, I will soldier on, and I won’t give up on what I love.

KM: Future we wish you the very best in the coming weeks and of course in whatever else you choose to do. Any final words for the readers?

FN: Thank you once again. My message to everyone out there is: It’s never too late to pursue your dream, no matter the challenges, don’t be discouraged, soldier on, one day it will defiantly work in your favour.

Kudzai Mhangwa

Kudzai Mhangwa is a writer, actor and musician. He writes poetry, plays, essays and short stories. His work has been featured on House of Mutapa, Atrebla Magazine, Ka'edi Africa, Poetry Soup and elsewhere.

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