Cover Feature

Flaviana Matata: On Modeling, Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship & More

Photo courtesy of Scott Brasher

As an international model, beauty queen, humanitarian and entrepreneur, Flaviana Matata truly does it all. Matata famously won Miss Universe Tanzania in 2007, which was the very first year the competition took place. This meant that she went on to be the first representative for her home country of Tanzania in the Miss Universe Pageant, where she ultimately came in sixth place. This introduced her to the fashion and beauty industry, after which she was eventually scouted while modeling for a charity event across the world in New York City, and from there, her modeling career began to soar.


“Just like most models, I got scouted, but for me it was at a charity event in NYC, where we were raising money to build a hospital in Tanzania,” Matata said. “I was invited as an international guest. A year later, after having all my papers (work permit) in place, I moved to NYC where I stayed for few months and went to spend time in London to build my book and where I ended up doing so well. Booked my first few campaigns and the rest is history.”


Since then, Matata has modeled for many famous brands and designers in the fashion industry, including Tommy Hilfiger, Jason Wu, Tory Burch, Diesel and Vivienne Westwood. Matata has also won many different awards throughout her career, including the Most Inspirational Woman award at the Global Women Gala in 2018 and the Humanitarian of the Year award at the Swahili Fashion Week Awards in 2013.


“I have been blessed to work with so many [great designers] which makes it very hard to mention a few,” Matata said. “But I enjoy working with brands that book me not just because I am a great model but those who care about what I stand for. Working with such brands is very great as I also get to use my voice for good.”


Matata’s aspirations have always reached far beyond the world of modeling; she has also continuously focused on giving back to her community and making the world a better place.


“I wish I had someone to hold my hand or advise me when I started [modeling],” Matata said. “If there’s anything I would advise, it is to build a team outside your agency that will help you to grow beyond modeling, but they will also have your back when needed. Work smart and do not sell your soul for anything, focus on what you want to build and use modeling as a bridge to do other things since we do not have control about our career at times. Three key people are: a great manager, accountant and an attorney; I am still struggling with the management part though as it is tricky out there.”


Modeling may not always be full of glitz and glamor, but Matata is extremely grateful for all of the wonderful people and experiences being a model has brought into her life.


“It has helped me to meet so many amazing people and travel, I have learned so much and it has been an eye opener on so many levels,” Matata said. “I am able to do everything I do because of modeling, from my charity to my beauty and personal care line. Modeling has been such a bridge for everything that Flaviana is today. Super grateful for all my clients and agents I have and continue to work with.”


Seeking to use her fame and success to give back and be a voice for those in need, Matata has become very involved in philanthropy. She has even created her own charitable foundation, the Flaviana Matata Foundation. Matata has found ways to merge the worlds of fashion and philanthropy with projects like her recent collaboration with Diamonds Do Good on an onyx and diamond bracelet, the proceeds from which will go towards the Flaviana Matata Foundation’s mission of educating young girls in Tanzania.


“Flaviana Matata Foundation (FMF) is a 501(C)3, seeks to reduce the barriers and challenges adolescent girls and young women in Tanzania face on a day-to-day basis in their pursuit of their human right of receiving an education,” Matata said. “At its core, FMF seeks to empower, inspire and support these girls to achieve their full potential by removing societal stigmas and traditions that serve as blockers to them realizing their future and potentials.”


Matata has always been a huge advocate for the education of young women. Matata herself has a diploma in electrical engineering and works to give other girls the opportunity to learn and grow as people through education in a wide variety of ways.


“A key component of FMF provides full scholarships to girls, raising awareness and trainings on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHHM) and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) – not just for girls but for boys and the broader Community,” Matata said. “Our communal based approach ensures that the interventions we make are sustainable and is focused on the fact that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that access to education, a human right, is for everyone. Up to date, we have impacted 55,794 adolescence girls and young women through our programs and introversions.”