Tanzanian model Flaviana Matata

Flaviana, who is passionate about empowering and educated young women, sat down with ELLE magazine to discuss her career and causes close to her heart. She revealed the moment she was passed over for a major cosmetics deal, which ended up going to her friend Herieth Paul. She speaks about her foundation, the Flaviana Matata foundation which is a ‘nonprofit that works to ensure girls and young women have the resources and opportunities they need to complete their education, find employment, and/or start their own businesses – ultimately helping them to fulfil their dreams.’

For Flaviana, one her most important goals is to teach the girls that she works with a simple but invaluable lesson: No one can detract from your value as a woman and as a human being. This is just some of the advice she received from her Father, who raised her from a young age following the death of her Mother.

She opens up to ELLE about her struggles with the modelling industry, learning how to be truly free and of course, her off-duty model personal style.

Read excerpts from the interview below:

On being passed up for a major cosmetics deal: “I remember wanting that job so much,” she says, reflecting on the casting that took her all the way to the final round. “Sometimes you want it so badly, but instead of being jealous or bitter, it’s okay to celebrate others.” (It didn’t hurt that the “other” in this case was fellow Tanzanian model and friend Herieth Paul.)

On being raised to be a confident, fearless women by her Father: “My mother passed very early, and I was raised by a bold and proud Tanzanian man who instilled invaluable principles in me and my four siblings,” she says. Among them: staying grounded, speaking up, and pushing past the boundaries she’d inevitably face as a black woman in the fashion industry.

“The foundation my father laid allowed me to never lose sight of who I was and it has kept me through every transition.”

Confidence breeds freedom, Matata attests, not as much with her words as with the resolve she exudes in talking about her career path to date.

Flaviana Matata photographed by Matthew Sprout for ELLE magazine in collaboration with Banana Republic [Credit: www.elle.com]
Flaviana Matata photographed by Matthew Sprout for ELLE magazine in collaboration with Banana Republic [Credit: www.elle.com]

On her personal style: “Who I am will never change, but my personal style is as diverse as my experiences,” she says. In other words, trends aren’t her thing. Rather, it’s a mix of style and substance focusing on clothing ready for the possibility of whatever’s to come.

“Whether I’m rocking high-waisted trousers, classic sundresses, or runway gowns, I use my clothes and style to live out loud, to just be who I am or who I feel like. At the end of the day, you have to feel good about what you’re wearing. I just don’t want to be limited.”

On sticking to her principles: “I think that’s why I haven’t been to a place where people expect me to be, because I don’t follow fashion policies.” It’s especially tough to stay grounded at “super high-fashion things,” she says. But then she remembers her dad’s advice.

“If I go somewhere where I feel I don’t belong or I’m not welcomed, I’ll do other things. I don’t believe in putting all of my eggs in one basket.”

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