Nomfundo Mlaba is the Face of POND’S winner and we sat down to discuss her accomplishment, the importance of trusting the timing of your life and ‘speaking things into existence’. Nomfundo is following in the footsteps of the previous Face of POND’S winners Thembi Seete and Ayanda Thabethe and she’s on a mission to inspire all girls to dream big.
Ahead of the announcement being made at the gorgeous event, the previous Face of POND’S winner, Nosipho Mhlanga encouraged the 10 finalists to be more than just a pretty face, saying that women are capable of so much. And that’s exactly what Nomfundo is – a woman who doesn’t wish to be defined by a pretty smile and someone who has always known that her uniqueness is her superpower. ‘I started owning it [being a Zulu farm girl] when I started working in radio [Gagasi FM]. I called myself the modernised farm girl. I can be what you want me to be in this city life but that doesn’t mean I have to change who I truly am, and that’s a farm girl.’
The Emotions After Winning
‘As big as it [the competition] is, it’s humbling and I’m very happy,’ said Nomfundo. She didn’t believe that she’d win and her colleagues not only encouraged her to enter but inspired her to believe that she would make it this far.
‘Speaking things into existence’ is Nomfundo’s superpower – after entering the competition she ‘spoke her win into existence’ through her social-media platforms. All it takes is a quick scroll through her blog and Instagram captions and it’s evident that she is candid, as real as can be and she exudes an effortless sense of confidence.
From 15 000 Entries, 10 Finalists and 1 Winner
Nomfundo is quickly demonstrating her belief in the timing of her life, saying yes to the universe’s plans and remaining humble. ‘You grow up with your parents telling you that you’re special and sometimes you don’t believe it because you feel just as special as someone else. Being chosen out of 15 000 people, I now truly believe I have something in me that I can offer to the world to inspire someone. The competition was narrowed down to 10 phenomenal finalists and being chosen is out of this world.’ There were more than 32 000 votes collectively and the public voted to get her here.
Mama, I Made It!
Previous Face of POND’S winner and TV personality, Ayanda Thabethe made the announcement and handed Nomfundo her R50 000 cash prize. Later calling her mom, Nomfundo recounts the phone call being so special, especially since her mom expressed scepticism about success in the media industry. At 17, Nomfundo decided to pursue a degree in journalism despite her mom’s fears about success for a young black girl from a rural area, and making that call to say ‘mama, I made it’ was not only a moment of joy but one that reiterated the need for trusting in the timing of your life.
Her Vision as The Face of POND’S
‘The first thing I want to do with this platform is rewrite the narrative when it comes to people who come from rural places.’ Nomfundo often encountered people believing that coming from her community meant that she was underprivileged and not exposed to certain things – ‘For me that was not the case. I went to the best schools even though I had to walk more than five kilometres to get to the bus to school, and on summer days I had to wash my shoes during the first [school] lesson because of mud. I still had all the opportunities in the world.
Even now with this Face of POND’S competition, girls in my area were exposed to the competition because we all have Facebook, but they just didn’t enter because they feel like that space is not for people like us.’ There is still a lot of work that we need to take responsibility for as a society – Nomfundo notes that in her experience society often makes girls feel like they are not exposed and girls start to believe this way of thinking. Her message to other girls in rural areas is simply to be confident and be brave enough to take the opportunity.
On The Power of Authenticity
‘I think the problem starts when you go the extra mile trying to be unique. You being unique is not how you look, sound or what you say – it’s just you.’ To anyone who needs to read this today, understanding that there is no-one else in this world quite like you is all that’s needed. ‘Don’t try too hard to be unique, you need to be truly you and just decide to be yourself, post the imperfect Instagram video and own it’.
On Passion and Kindness
Whether it’s a drastic change you’re undertaking or a conversation with a stranger – be passionate. ‘If you’re truly passionate about something and give it your all no matter how difficult it seems, you can literally do it.’
This experience is just as much about her personal growth as it is about impacting the life of just one girl. We can’t wait to see what Nomfundo accomplishes as part of the POND’S family and we’ll definitely follow her journey.
This post is sponsored by POND’S.
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