Flaviana Matata
“Modeling is probably the dream of many girls all over
the world, but few are willing and ready to dream big,” says  Tanzanian fashion model Flaviana Matata.

“For me modeling is not just walking on the catwalk or having my photo
taken. In every photo that I take I am selling a product and I have to project
a given image,” the 29-year-old beauty adds.

Flaviana believes that despite the widespread convention that models should not
put themselves or dominate the product, every once in a while comes a model
whose look and personality dominate the fashion scene. And she believes she is
one of them.

“We have seen supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Cindy

Crawford, Iman, Tyra
Banks rise to stardom and as a young girl I was strongly influenced by their
presence in the fashion industry,” she says.

“That’s why I believe that as a model, my role extends beyond the usual
call of duty and I can become the face of women from around the world, from
Africa and inspire them to work toward their dream.”

Flaviana was born in Shinyanga in 1987 and grew up in a normal family. To her
siblings she is not only an elder sister but at times a surrogate mother since
they lost their mother when they were young.

“I had a happy and fun-filled childhood where laughter and adventure were
a part of every day life. I also frequently visited the mines in Shinyanga with
my family and friends,” she says.

Flaviana shot to international fame during the 2007 Miss Universe finals in
Mexico City where she placed as one of the Top Ten semi-finalists and clinched
the sixth spot among 77 participants from around the world.

She had won the very first edition of the Miss Universe Tanzania pageant in
2007, and went on to represent her country in the Miss Universe finals the same

A Mexican modeling pundit described her as having all the elegance, energy, and
beauty of an African gazelle.

“She encapsulates the warmth and passion of that wonderful continent,” he said
during the Miss Universe finals.

Flaviana also made history for being the first contestant to compete with a
shaved head!

“I never let anyone define me neither by hair, nor clothing as I believe
God made me perfect as a pure, natural African woman,” she says.

Modeling Career
In June 2008, Flaviana left for Johannesburg, South Africa to begin her work
under a one year contract with one of the most reputable companies in South
Africa — Ice Model Agency.

She signed her contract with Ice Model Agency in Dar es Salaam after lengthy
negotiations between her mother agency Compass Communications and Ice Models
Agency. She started work with Ice Model Agency on June 30, 2008 and took part
in various fashion shows including the Johannesburg and Cape Town fashion week.

“This is the first time that a beauty queen with an international title in
Tanzania is handed an opportunity like this,” explained Compass Communications
director Maria Sarungi Tsehai who personally negotiated the contract.

“We are aware that in the past other beauty queens secured modeling contracts
but it was only after they traveled privately to South Africa and had done
numerous auditions. Flaviana got this contract without traveling to South
Africa,” she added.

“Flaviana has made history and leaves a great track record but we knew that she
had the potential to make it big on the international scene,” Sarungi

“Her success is a result of her focused approach and obedience; the world
renowned reputation of Miss Universe as a trademark and Compass Communications’
impeccable reputation in international beauty pageantry.

“We are very pleased with this development because Flaviana has set a great
example for other Miss Universe Tanzania winners to emulate. We will also
continue to strive to help young women achieve their dreams through our

Flaviana herself agrees that with the success at Miss Universe finals in 2007,
she has been able to inspire many Tanzanian girls and has been an advocate for
children expressing always the importance of education and the importance of
developing the female child in a family.

“It is not because of people, but because this is how life is. Life is not
as simple as we think.  But I never give up, it was not the time for me to
give up now. Better still, Uncle Rush didn’t give up. He has been pushing and
prodding me, always making sure that I am ready any time to respond for any
call to modeling. 

“I believe in what the Bible says: ‘To the Man who strives and works, God lends
a helping hand’. And that helping hand may come in the form of generous people
like Uncle Rush who use their fame and influence to make an African girl’s
dream come true,” she says.

As she reflect on her journey from Africa to New York, Flaviana knows that she
has a longer journey ahead of her and probably a tougher one, as she has to
work in the international and competitive modeling industry in New York.

“But I know that it had taken a bigger amount of faith and hope to get me
here. I am so excited for this. I am grateful to God for getting to know Uncle
Rush who has worked so hard in helping me achieve my dreams. I always have my
late mother in my thoughts too,” she says.

As beauty queen, Flaviana did numerous charity activities and has also
travelled to various countries including France, Hungary and Denmark on

“I have been part of various charity activities in my country including
being the Goodwill Ambassador for SOS Villages Tanzania and I am happy to be
associated with Life Project for Africa, where I hope that this project becomes
sustainable as it can continue to grow and spread to other parts of Tanzania,
Africa and other parts of the world where there is a need for a school or
hospital,” she says.

“Being part of this project needs more than just donation of money but it
is also important to personally reach out to the people, correspond with them
and to show care and understanding, so that at the end of the day this is not
just donation but charity in its secular and spiritual sense.”

Flaviana says modeling in Tanzania is a relative new profession and has been
misjudged often to be a promiscuous job. It has taken time to gain some
acceptance within the society. But what makes things more difficult has been
the more modern clothes that are often short or revealing.

“For instance, posing in a swimsuit could be deemed ‘immoral’ or ‘loose’,
and may even result in the family exerting influence on models to stop
modeling,” she says. However, swimsuits have slowly become more acceptable
in everyday and also in magazines although tolerance is still very little in
the case of local models.

Apart from modeling, Flaviana is also an electrical technician by
profession and a business woman, she recently launched her nail polish brand going by the name #LAVY. 

“I enjoy modeling. Fashion is my passion. Music is also something I am
interested in. My ambition is to be an engineer as well as a top model and also
a fashion stylist” she says.

Source: This Day


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