As the beauty sponsor for the prestigious M-Net Face of Africa model contest, Iman Cosmetics has helped give the winner, Zambia's Lukando Nalungwe, a chance to flaunt her catwalk skills at New York Fashion Week. Each year, M-Net's Face of Africa sweeps fourteen African countries to find the freshest new faces on the continent (Victoria's Secret Angel and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue regular Oluchi won the search in 1998). The winner recieves $50,000 from M-Net, a contract with O Model Africa, a year's worth of Iman Cosmetics products, and a coveted spot walking in the Arise fashion show during New York Fashion Week. During the televised finale on February 6th in Lagos, Nigeria, Lukando was personally chosen by Iman to be the new Face of Africa! Earlier this week, the supermodel/beauty mogul invited us to lunch with Lukando during her first trip to the States. Here, our exclusive interview with the 22-year-old winner. ESSENCE.COM: Congratulations, Lukando! What made you decide to enter the Face of Africa model search? ZAMBIA LUKANDO NALUNGWE:
I've been modeling in Zambia for two years, and my family and friends gave me lots of encouragement to take it further. And I'll never forget when Oluchi won. I thought, 'maybe one day that'll be me!' ESSENCE.COM: And here you are! Who are some of your other model idols? LUKANDO:
Well, of course I love Iman! I also like Adriana Lima, Oluchi, Giselle Bundchen... ESSENCE.COM: You're a Victoria's Secret Angel kind of girl. LUKANDO:
Absolutely! I'd love to be a Victoria's Secret Angel one day. The runway show is so much fun. I love the wings! ESSENCE.COM: What was it like living in the model house during the competition? LUKANDO:
The girls and I became such good friends, especially Rosanna from Zimbabwe and Thembi from South Africa. The model boot camp part of the show was hard, though. We had a short amount of time to learn all the details of modeling--the go-sees, what to wear to castings, how do do our hair and makeup. ESSENCE.COM: Did the producers give you a makeover? LUKANDO:
We all got makeovers! A couple of girls actually had their hair shaved. When I came into the competition, I had relaxed hair that was brown on top and black on the bottom. Now I have straight, black extensions...I love my hair! ESSENCE.COM: What does your family think of your win? LUKANDO:
They're so excited and supportive. I'm the fourth of five kids, and my brother passed away last year, right before I found out I got accepted into the contest. I almost didn't continue, but my family told me that he would've wanted me to see how far I could go. I know he's proud of me! ESSENCE.COM: Without a doubt. And we are, too!
Lukando will walk in the Arise fashion show on Saturday, February 13th. Read More: