Saturday, 31 December 2011
Positive Runway Catwalk founder Ms Justina Mutale speaks to the Police
1) For those who are not familiar with you tell us briefly who you are and what you do?
I am many things, but most all I am Justina Mutale. As you know, if there is one thing a woman can be, and do – it is many things!! And I can be many different things to many different people, depending on who that person is. Nevertheless, as this is a fashion blog and for purposes of this interview, I will stick to the fashion aspect of things and focus on the fact that I am the Founder of POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread® which has representation in over 30 countries spread over 5 continents across the globe. However, as women are masters of multi-tasking, I am also the Founder of the multi-award winning and internationally acclaimed MISS ZAMBIA UK Beauty Pageant, as well as CEO of Perryfield Promotions, a multi-award winning international PR, Media & Business Intelligence Consultancy. In addition, I am Vice-President of International Styles Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia in the USA which incorporates INTStyles Model & Artist Management; International Styles Celebrity TV Chat Show; and the Global FFMTT Awards (Fashion, Film, Music, Television and Theatre Awards) based in the USA. I have also been invited to work on the Black Comedy Awards, which will be launched in London in the Spring of 2012 and on the STARLYWOOD project, a global organization providing a platform for young people with talent to become globally recognized and to realize their dreams and reach for the stars, or even become one! My educational background is in Political Science and International Relations and I am therefore a regular Chairperson, Convener and Guest Speaker at various fora that discuss the social, economic and political situation in Africa and the fate of Africans in the Diaspora; and I am a contributor to several publications, magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs around the world.
2) Tell us about POSITIVE RUNWAY and what it is about?
POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread®, is a worldwide HIV/AIDS response campaign that tours the world working with models, beauty queens, fashion designers and celebrities from fashion, film, music, television, sport and other arts as effective advocates in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS and other scourges affecting today’s young generation, such as sexual irresponsibility, gun and knife violence, drug abuse, child trafficking, etc. POSITIVE RUNWAY is a social responsibility and community development initiative that aims to bridge the gap in the global efforts to stop the spread of these scourges by speaking the same language as the young generation in order to get the message across. As you may know in the 21st Century young people and society in general are obsessed with celebrity worship and most of them are easily influenced by, and believe in emulating the lifestyles and life choices of people in the social limelight. POSITIVE RUNWAY uses the allure and impact of movie stars, models, fashion designers, music artistes and other celebrities on society to shout out a strong positive message to “Stop the Spread!” in the belief that when words and other formal efforts fail, celebrities, fashion, music, beauty and entertainment will speak effectively to the young generation.
As mentioned earlier, we have over 30 member countries spread over 5 continents across the globe starting from the United States of America; to the Caribbean Islands; Latin America; Asia; the Pacific; Europe; and Africa. In our accelerated efforts to reach our target audience POSITIVE RUNWAY incorporates the “MILLION VOICES Against the Spread of HIV/AIDS” Campaign, which is a global Film/TV Documentary featuring celebrities from fashion, film, music, television, sport and other arts with a strong message to stop the spread! In addition, POSITIVE RUNWAY has its own annual world competition to find a GLOBAL AMBASSADOR. We also hold a worldwide synchronized event where all member countries simultaneously stage an event on the same day to mark World AIDS Day with our Red Ribbon Models® walking the runway. In addition, we have GLOBAL CATWALK TV; GLOBAL CATWALK Blog Radio; GLOBAL CATWALK On-line & Hard Copy Magazine; our own Social Networking site; as well as our own Signature Apparel and merchandise carrying the POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread® logo.
POSITIVE RUNWAY also runs educational, advocacy, and community outreach workshops, seminars and conferences around the world to sensitize society on the scourges that impact negatively on today’s young generation and society at large. Among many other accolades, POSITIVE RUNWAY has received global recognition with commendations and endorsements from prominent figures including the Governor of Florida, the Mayor of Miami and the Georgia State Senate in Atlanta in the United States of America.
3) Do you think enough is being done to educate people about HIV/AIDS?
It is fair to say that the world has made tremendous advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and this has led to an accelerated rate of acceptance and tolerance of HIV/AIDS. This in turn has reduced the stigma attached to the disease. However, although the HIV/AIDS epidemic appears to be slowing down in many parts of the world, even after 30 years, the world continues to face significant challenges in taming the scourge. Society has become so complacent because of the availability of treatment that they are not doing enough to prevent the disease from spreading around to the younger generation. And I am afraid that the truth remains that lifesaving treatment on its own does not necessarily lead to prevention. As they say, “prevention is better than cure”. The fact the world continues to experience fresh HIV/AIDS infections, and more so in the young generation under the age of 30, should be a great source of worry and indicates that not enough is being done to stop the spread. Hence our efforts to bridge the gap through POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread!
4) We know you’re a busy woman when you’re not working what do you do in your spare time?
One can never be too busy as not to leave time to oneself, as one needs time to reflect and recharge in order to move forwards. I always ensure that I fit into my busy schedule some special “Me Time”, when I do not do any work at all, but just relax and let go. I listen to music, meditate, read a book, watch a movie or go to the spa. And of course I party!
5) Which 4 words best describe you as a person?
I am one of the luckiest and most blessed people on earth. And as a person, the 4 words that describe me adequately are simply: “God’s little spoilt Princess”.
6) What music would get Justina moving her head and making her way to the dance floor?
Anything with rhythm will get me onto the dance floor. I am from the old skool and just love the golden oldies. However, even within the noughties’ (21st Century) music, there are some beats that get me tapping my toes and jumping onto the dance floor.
7) What would be your message to all readers out there who don't practice safe sex?
My message to those that do not practice safe sex is that it is now more than ever before imperative to practice safe sex, to stick to one partner and to be faithful, to get tested, and to know one’s status. It is now more than ever before imperative to take all the necessary precautions to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. With all the research, knowledge, medical and technological advances at hand, we are the generation that has the capability to end the spread and to stop the virus from spreading to the next generation.
8) How can someone from the other side of the world learn more about you?
People can learn about POSITIVE RUNWAY on our website: http://www.positiverunway.org In addition, we have a Facebook page. I also have my Facebook and Twitter page in addition to my own blog and personal website: www.justinamutale.com There is also enough information about me and my work on the internet.
9) What do you look for when selecting a POSITIVE RUNWAY Model?
We have our own POSITIVE RUNWAY signature models that are called Red Ribbon Models®. They model for cause and walk for a purpose. As such, it is not enough for a model to just look beautiful, walk the runway and strut their stuff aimlessly. Because our Red Ribbon Models become our Ambassadors for POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread, they have to have physical and imposing beauty, good deportment and good disposition with strong interpersonal and communication skills, high intellect, empathy and compassion for fellow human beings. Our motto is “Beauty, Brains and Compassion”. And of course, we also ensure we select only those male and female models that can ‘walk the runway like the rent is due’!
10) Do you believe in the saying AIDS came from monkeys?
I have to confess that I am not adequately educated on the true origins of the HIV/AIDS Virus. However, I do not believe that AIDS came from monkeys, because if it did it would have stayed in the monkeys. For some bizarre reason I never get to hear of monkeys suffering from HIV/AIDS any more, perhaps I have not been reading the right literature on the matter. I therefore stand to be corrected by those with more knowledge on this issue.
11) Do you think that if free condoms were given out to everyone in the world without having to ever pay for the condoms, would that reduce the virus?
In my opinion, the issue of condoms is a Catch 22 situation, because once people believe that condoms will prevent infection they are bound to lower their guard in the belief that it would be impossible for them to contract HIV/AIDS while using a condom. Ironically, the very fact that the condoms are so easily available has led to increased promiscuity with society becoming complacent in most cases. While the condom helps prevent infection in some cases, at the same time you also find that the rate of HIV/AIDS infections continues to rise among young people as there is always the occasional accident with the condom. The best way to reduce the virus remains the old fashioned way of sticking to one partner even if one uses a condom. Having said that, condoms are already widely available for free distribution and most people still do not use them. “You can take a horse to the river, but you cannot force it to drink the water!”
12) Do you think getting the HIV/AIDS is more of a GAY or STRAIGHT thing?
When the HIV/AIDS virus invaded the world in the early 1980’s there was the mistaken belief that it was predominantly a disease for the gay population because a lot people did not know enough about the virus. However, now that people are more educated on the virus, it is now a fact that it is not only the gay community who are risk of contracting the HIV/AIDS virus, but anyone who is sexually active is bound to get infected with HIV/AIDS, regardless of whether they are straight or gay.
13) What’s one thing you must have in your purse when leaving home?
My mobile phone is the one thing I cannot leave home without as my work is non-stop. With my mobile phone at hand, I can respond to urgent emails and telephone calls while I am on the go. I can also check my appointments and do so some of my work while moving from appointment to appointment.
14) Describe in your own words what true beauty is?
In my eyes beauty is diverse and comes in different shapes, sizes, colours and contours ranging from those that are fair or light-skinned and aquiline with long hair; to those that are dark skinned, full-figured with short hair. Beauty is about being proud of who we are and celebrating the various shapes, sizes and skin tones, and enhancing those features that are unique to each one of us.
15) As a woman who attends many events name some of your fashion tips for our many readers?
One needs to find one’s own fashion sense that enhances their best features. Just because a pair of jeans looks good on me does not necessarily mean it will look just as good on the next person. One needs to dress in a way that reflects one’s personality and enhances one’s beauty and figure shape. It is important to dress respectfully and elegantly to suit the occasion. By all means one must avoid dressing in a way that appears to be obscene or vulgar regardless of the occasion. Another important aspect that many people always overlook and do not realize is a great fashion accessory is a simple smile. Remember, “When you smile, the world smiles with you”. And as long as you have a smile on your face or within your heart, this will radiate through and reflect in everything that you do, and as the saying goes, “You are never fully dressed without a smile”!
15) In your eyes what is a true gentleman?
I believe there is gentleman in every male screaming to come out. Treated with respect and kindness, every man is capable of being a true gentleman. In my eyes, a true gentleman always treats others with respect and kindness.
17) Any last words for our readers?
It’s been a total pleasure and a real privilege to be interviewed by your prestigious blog. Thank you very much for the opportunity. As the eyes of the world turn to London with London being on the global spotlight for the 2012 Olympics, POSITIVE RUNWAY’s 2012 London GLOBAL CATWALK will bring the world to London, with all our 30 or more member countries from across the globe sending their delegates to strut their stuff to commemorate the 2012 World AIDs Day on Saturday 1st December 2012, in addition to our London-based RED RIBBON MODELS®. For more updates follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on our Website.
POSITIVE RUNWAY LINKS:
London Global Catwalk:
BHF Magazine: http://bhfmagazine.com/contents/bhf_positivelondon2.html