Miss Ireland International is a pageant based on people born and raised in Ireland yet coming from another cultural background. This year’s competition was won by an Ireland based Zimbabwean. Model Guide caught up with her and conducted the following interview with her.

MG: What is Miss Ireland International about.

MI: Miss Ireland International is a pageant which is based on people who have grown up in Ireland but come from another cultural background. So obviously I’m Zimbabwean by origin but I did grow up in Ireland. That’s how I qualified to join. It’s a pageant which celebrates women from all types of backgrounds. So, it’s part of a group of pageants called Ireland pageants. And in this you’ve got Miss Teen Ireland, Mrs Ireland obviously Miss Ireland International, Miss Junior Ireland…So that’s why I got attracted to joining the Ireland pageants family because they note that Ireland is a big cultural melting pot. I think more so now than ever there’s people from so many different backgrounds. They celebrate that. For example Miss Universe Ireland, you have to be born in Ireland, your family history has to be based there and you have to be born and bred in Ireland as well. On that front it doesn’t take into consideration that these days people’s identities are often a synergy of a few different life experiences, backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and origins. So that’s pretty much what the pageant is about, celebrating all of that and that’s why I wanted to join.

MG: When was the event?

MI: The finals themselves where held in January this year.

MG: How did it go?

MI: It was a funny story actually because I went there not expecting to win anything. I didn’t tell any of my family or friends that I was going to compete cause it was held in Dublin and I live in the Guernsey Channel Islands. So I just told them I’m going for a shopping holiday, nothing too exciting. The reason why I did that is I had just competed in Miss Africa Great Britain which was last year in October and I didn’t even place in top 5 or top 10 or anything. So I wasn’t really optimistic. I just thought to myself let me do a pageant because I really like doing it, maybe it will uplift my spirit and just get back into the pageant game because I’ve been doing pageants for like ten years now. I went there not suspecting a thing and I remember thinking oh my goodness I absolutely canned my interview, it just went the worst way ever. In the end I won the best in interview award. I won most photogenic award overall across all the 5 categories and then obviously I won the title of Miss Ireland International which was just a dream come true. I can not begin to tell you how I felt at that moment. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, oh my goodness I was absolutely overwhelmed. And I think it really goes to show you always need to prepare for a pageant but also look into what it stands for. As I said I believe in what the system stands for. So once you get the right girl in the right pageant system she will go really far.

MG: How do you feel winning this crown?

MI: I’ve had so many amazing experiences through winning. I’m still not used to it. Sometimes I get imposter syndrome because I think to myself is this really my life? Like how did this come about. So I went to meet with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UK briefly after my win. I’ve had opportunities like judging other pageants, I’m a brand ambassador for a fashion house over here I get so many offers, people approach me and want to work with me because they are inspired by my story and how I came about to win this pageant. I’m feeling very honoured to have been able to win and retain this title
I think it’s one of my best achievements to date. It’s nearly time for it to be over cause I’m doing a homecoming tour end of January next year. So I’m gonna go to Zimbabwe and do a tour across 3 different cities. I’ve already got some meetings planned while I’m over there to implement my entrepreneurial
mentorship scheme which I’m aiming at young Zimbabweans. It’s been a roller coaster journey and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. But wow, I feel like I have 2 jobs now, my full time job and this stuff that I do outside work. It’s amazing and it’s made me realize that it’s not always as easy as stepping onto the stage and winning that crown. More so because of the fact that I didn’t believe in myself and went on to win.

MG: How old are you and what do you do outside modelling

MI: I’m 23 years old. At the moment I am an assistant analyst at the International Stock Exchange in the Listings department. That’s kind of what I do outside of modelling and obviously I do all these other projects as well. I’m trying to, like I said, implement some entrepreneurial mentorship schemes for young people in Zimbabwe which is something I’m going to do when I come to Zimbabwe in January.
I aslo do a lot of community outreach. I do a lot of work with organizations. There’s a local centre for people who have various disabilities who I work with closely. I hold my own events as well. I recently held one where I had Charlie Kay performing and also DJ Silver King which was part of my Guernsey nsey Diversity Connect Project. That’s the project I’ve aimed at people in Guernsey but of Zimbabwean heritage, just to make the Island feel more like home for them.

MG:How do you cope with the pressure of being the queen?

MI: Coping with the pressure of being the queen has been something I wouldn’t say I learnt overnight. Even now I still get overwhelmed especially because I’m currently studying for a professional qualification through my employer. That on top of everything else can be overwhelming but at the end of the day I remind myself that these are things I always wanted to do with my life. Things that I love doing, I love having something to stand for, something to be passionate about. For me personally it’s a good kind of pressure because I think I motivate myself intrinsically from within more than I would have if it qaa something I didn’t want to do. So I do have moments where I just completely shut off and just concentrate on me but that happens very rarely because it’s just all things that I couldn’t imagine doing at any other point in my life or in any different way. I’m very grateful to be in this place at this current moment. I wouldn’t say I feel pressure all the time but when it does get hectic I do my best to take care of myself, take a breather then come back when I’m re-energized.

MG: Do you have any messages to the young boys and girls who want to try modeling?

MI: I would say first and foremost if you want to do it don’t let anyone tell you can’t. But I think it’s really important to choose the opportunities you want to pursue which are right for you. So if you know that you’re particularly good on the catwalk or you’re not good with pictures or if you know you could be a pageant queen because it’s about more than just fashion modelling. I would say do your research first before you get into it and have a clear idea of the thing that you want to end up doing even if you don’t necessarily end up doing that in the way you expected. As long as that’s the end result that’s the most important thing. However, having said that, definitely I would say stick to your gut. If it doesn’t feel right don’t go for it. The worst thing is when I see people who are modelling in pictures or on the stage you can tell when someone is uncomfortable and that’s the last you want to do. If you know for yourself that you’re uncomfortable doing that specific thing don’t do it because it’ll show and it’ll just destroy your spirit.

MG: What would you say to young people just getting into modelling.

MI: First of all have a contract. If there’s anything you don’t understand ask the agency what they mean and don’t be afraid to ask for changes. If they really are legitimate and want to work with you they would be prepared to change any terms which you might deem unfair. Second thing is always have someone to look over any agreements that you have in place. Always have someone to bounce ideas off, like when something happens with the agency or they want you to go on jobs. Those two things really help. And also try your best to communicate via written means on anything that you engage in with the agency because that would be really good for evidence if you ever need to go back on a point or if you need to legally challenge them. The other thing I would say is if you ever have agencies that advertise to you I would say try and stay clear of them because agencies usually don’t advertise for wanting models. If they are reputable, they will have enough models on their books and obviously anyone who approaches them will just do that by word of mouth. Be careful where people are too eager to work with you, engage with you in terms of your talents. Just make sure you know what the agency is about and you’ve done your research. The other thing is just keep your wits about you. Human intuition can actually be a powerful tool more than what you realize. So go with what you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself, but also don’t push yourself too much out of your comfort zone to a point where you feel like this is something you don’t want to do again.

MG: What else should one be aware of getting into the industry?

MI: If possible join something like a model’s union or read publications like Model Guide as well where they give guidelines on what you should be experiencing in the modelling industry. Also know your rights, your legal rights as well. Sometimes people get scared into not saying anything or not challenging something because there’s this kind of hierarchy where the agency is more superior to you a model who’s an individual. But law prevails at the end of the day. So know your rights and if something is going against that you have a good place to start.

MG: Is there anything else relevant to models out there?
MI: Just have fun with it. Obviously it can be quite difficult to navigate especially if you’re inexperienced or there are things that you want to do but don’t quite know how to. So just have fun and a lot of the time people will see your potential and they will make suggestions to you. I mean I never made a conscious decision to start participating in pageants. It was just because someone saw my potential and suggested that I enter one and I’ve been entering since then. Just don’t be afraid to break the mould. A lot of the time there are these prerequisites of what people think a model should look like or a way that models should dress or that you should have a big social media following. But don’t be afraid to be your own definition of what a model should be like. Because once you start being true to yourself then the right sortcof opportunities will come your way. So I think the modelling industry, from my experience anyway, should bebe a place where we celebrate girls and guys from diverse backgrounds and use it as a medium to inspire others rather than coming down hard on those people who don’t fit into that specific size or that specific height. So there’s a bad side to it but there’s also a good side. You wont have it all figured out all the time but once you start gaining more experience then you’ll findit easier to navigate.

Seize the moment and give your all in all you do and you’ll begin to see how life will be good to you. Work smarter, not harder cause in the modelling industry it’s all about quality and not quantity. Don’t just produce pictures or participate in shows just because you want to be in the limelight. Apply yourself fully to 2 things rather than giving 25% to 5 things just so you can say you have “experience”. Two amazing photos from 3 hours of shooting is better than 5 average photos from a whole day of shooting

Same with shows. Modelling the best in 4 shows is better than just being there to add to the head count of 8 shows

And always always be resilient. Keep showing up. When you fail whether it’s a casting or a gig or whatever – it’s important to learn from it and do things differently to the last time. Fortune favours those who are prepared.
Oh yes and also one last thing – don’t compare yourself to other people. Your time to shine will come when it’s ready for you.