Born and raised in Mutare, the 27 year old Yolanda Yona has been making incremental strides in the modeling industry.
From a tender age, Yolanda knew that she wanted to be a model.
She was raised up by a single mother who worked very hard to provide for her and her sister. She remembers how her mother, though she did not have much was always willing to help those less fortunate than herself.
From that grounded upbringing, Yolanda has also been able to give of herself too but in a different way.
She is passionate about young girls and she wants to help them.
“I feel the world has no proper role models. When I grew up my role model was Princess Diana, Alek Wek, the First Lady Amai Mugabe, Mother Theresa, my mum and aunts. They are powerful women with a vision and a purpose. Nowadays young girls look up to reality and pop stars.” Yolanda feels that reality TV is just but an illusion. It does very little if anything to prepare young girls for the real world.
Yolanda was a gifted athlete who made it into the regional basketball team at the age of 16. She was constantly bullied as a child because of her skinny frame so modeling helped her boost her confidence and self-love. Yolanda also goes by the name of Nana Simz, when asked why she chose this name, she explained that she feels that she keeps changing and evolving as she grows older and she wanted a name that expressed the woman she has become. “Nana seemed like a gentle and pure name.”
One of the things that Yolanda loves doing is dressing up. She has figured out what looks good on her body and that gives her confidence.
Of all the pageants that she has entered, Miss Africa USA is the most memorable. Whilst she was up against beautiful women with the same goals as herself, she managed to raise the Zimbabwean flag high. Being Zimbabwean however, has not been easy.
The negative publicity that the country receives sometimes makes it difficult for agencies to get her a visa and sort out her paper work. To her credit, every time this happened, Yolanda simply went and did the paperwork herself.
Yolanda studied Air Traffic control and engineering in the Ukraine. It was challenging because of the language barrier but she succeeded in learning a new language.
Currently she is studying social sciences and liberal arts with a focus on human assistance. She would like to run her own foundation in the future.
For Yolanda, Alek Wek is an inspiration, She is not only beautiful but she is also hardworking. She exemplifies excellence and has challenged the stereotype that beauty is being light skinned.
Other perceptions about the modeling industry have also changed. Modeling is now more diverse, you do not have to be twiggy skinny to be successful, Kate Upton is a successful plus size model.
Of the things she misses most about Zimbabwe, the people come out top.
Zimbabweans make the best of any situation; she misses being surrounded by such positivity. Yolanda hopes to come back home and settle down, for her there is no other place she would rather raise a family.