GETTING PERSONAL WITH LWANDLE MALUVA NGWENYA
Written by: Mfundo Knowledge Mthembu
When she’s not strutting major fashion show ramps, Lwandle Ngwenya is shooting big commercial adverts, running businesses and attending lectures at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Ngwenya is a true epitome of beauty with brains as she co-founded a property development agency firm to inspire young black women to venture into the business industry that is somewhat white dominated. She continues to shine bright light a diamond even in 2018.
Lwandle Ngwenya at the Durban Fashion Fair in 2017.
Who is Lwandle Ngwenya, her upbringing, education and family?
Lwandle Maluvá Ngwenya is a younger twin with Nolwandle Sazana Ngwenya and other older sister Khwezi Arminda Ngwenya. We were born in KwaZulu-Natal and grew up in Durban until 2001 which was when my mother (Swati) passed away. My Dad is Portuguese and lives in Mozambique and our real surname is in fact De’nguenha which means Ngwenya (it was hard for foreigners in the 90’s for when they wanted to come to SA, hence my dad decided to change his surname to Ngwenya).
I was brought up as a christian by my maternal grandmother in Dundee. I was always an energetic child and very inquisitive. The three of us were into a lot of sports and athletics. We won a lot of medals and trophies for netball, sprinting, long jumps, high jumps and my twin is also great in doing short-put. I studied at Overport Secondary school then moved to Durban Day Private School in which I became head girl/head-prefect through academics, athletics, behaviour and cleanliness. All three of us completed our matric at different high schools. My older sister graduated for Advanced IT and my twin studied Civil Engineering and I am studying Jewelery Design and Manufacturing.
You’ve been in the modelling and beauty industry doing phenomenal work for quite some time. Please kindly describe your claim to stardom and big break.
After matric we had to start working while we pay for our own studies. I had no idea nor interest in modelling as I believed, or rather some of my extended family members made me believe, that I wasn’t anything close to beautiful. What healed my weary heart was the faith I had in Christ. I am a very strong person internally yet emotional as well. Crazy enough I saw no way out but I still prepared for it. I am very protective over my sisters. They have been more like my mom and dad throughout my life. My older sister was the first to venture in modelling. She’d win every pageant that she entered.
I remember the first time I tried modelling, it was when my sisters and I were invited to go and cast/audition for modelling. The gentleman who was running the casting told me I’d never be a model because of my skin irritation (I had bad pigmentation), that kind of made me give up on the idea of modelling. Later that same year, my sisters entered Miss eThekwini/Durban. They advised me to enter because the event would be at night and I’d be alone at home. Plus, to watch the pageant I’d have to pay an entry fee and my sisters thought that was not a good idea. They advised me to enter the pageant because it was free to enter. I agreed and by God’s grace I won, along with my sisters who became number two and three. To be honest I was really upset with the judges I couldn’t believe I won nor could the other contestants. The judges said I won because of my walk, confidence, and smile and how well I answered my question. I promise you from that day onwards I took myself seriously. The next year I won Miss Spring, following year I qualified for Miss South Africa. I got into top 12 and that on its own gave me my big break that opened doors for acting, singing and dancing.
Ngwenya at a bikini photo shoot in Cape Town.
Describe your journey particularly struggles, politics, downfalls and disadvantages you’ve encountered in the modelling and beauty industry.
My skin was always a struggle to me. I had so much agony. I was a size 36 when I started modelling. I’d get a lot of critics with that. Being black didn’t make anything easy. Racism has simmered down but it always peeps through the door every now and again. Sometimes you’d feel like maybe you’re not good enough or you’re not what they’re looking for but I always say, “You’re always what they’re looking for, you have just got to show up and enlighten them”.
Who is the person(s) that has influenced you the most and why?
My sisters have always enlightened me. I knew nothing and no one in modelling but them. I never followed nor looked at other older models because it was a field that I was not a part of . I knew nothing about modelling. I eventually started falling in love with modelling.
What is the continual quest that drives Lwandle and the brand Lwandle Ngwenya?
I love to motivate people, young and old. I believe there’s no cut-off-time where people cannot begin to live their dreams and become the best that they can be. What motivates me is knowing the number of people I empower and uplift.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment(s)?
Many times people believe that accomplishments are the solid things you receive in life. I have done a number of fashion shows, national and international shoots, travelled to Asia in Thailand (Bangkok) for movies. I run a land and property company. I run a modelling school. I sit on the board for the yearly Ugu Film Festival hosted in the south coast. But my greatest accomplishment is the ability that God has given me to live the life that I have always wished for; a happy life full of adventure in the industry that I enjoy.
How have you managed to stay accomplished, relevant and afloat within the modelling and beauty industry?
I was always very strategic with my actions and I focused on my strengths and abilities. I took time to understand myself thereafter I made it all work to my advantage. I won pageants yearly with Miss Durban 2009, Miss Spring 2010, Miss South Africa Top 12 in 2011, Miss Lovely Legs South Africa 2012 and Miss Signature 2013/14. I won best actress for uMalokazane 2015 in the Metro Film Awards and I won best actress for the movie ‘Problems Everywhere’ in 2016 as well as Miss Cape Peninsula University of Technology 2017. I was in billboards across the continent for Jockey underwear and signature cosmetics.
You’re also business-savvy too. Tell us about Lwandle Property Development Agency (LPDA)
LPDA is a young business in progress. I opened it after I had entered Idols Season 8. I ended in the top 40 groups round. I opened it (LPDA) with one of the contents whom we shared the same interest and intelligence, Mordecai Ndlovu. We’ve managed to sell the first house under LPDA. God is so great!
In terms of work, describe your numerous current projects as well as any exciting new projects that you’re working on.
Ramp work, shoot for stills and shoots for movies. I’ve shot for Mr Price, Hub, and Game stores and television commercials; Joox tv commercial, Woolworths and vacation zone. I am currently on Ackermans television adverts, Dunns (window), Ackermans (window) and Woolworths JT One.
What would be your best advice to people who look up to Lwandle Ngwenya?
Never forget how perfectly capable you are. Black or white, poor or rich, you are capable of greatness. You are always what they are looking.