The Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga MS pageants are crowns owned by the Mrs Mpumalanga Foundation. The foundation uses these platforms to uplift women of ages, race and background and also reach out to communities within Mpumalanga. The creator of the brand, Jacques Lombard and Zané Jansen van Rensburg, who is the CEO of Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga MS, are very passionate about women, the girl child and the province of Mpumalanga. The pair had a chat with Blazon Magazine about the essence and ultimate purpose of the Mrs Mpumalanga brand.
Why the creation of Mrs Mpumalanga?
The Director of Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga MS is also the director of Timeless Face SA and Timeless Face of Africa that was focusing on the age groups in different categories from 7 to 24 years. Jacques Lombard was involved for years with so many different pageants and modelling competitions on provincial, national and international level making a difference in the lives of the youths of South Africa and other countries. It was actually while promoting his work in Namibia that Jacques realized if he really wants to look after the youth he must start to focus also on where it all begin, at home, with the mothers. Jacques realized that any healthy family, successful household and successful business man needs healthy, strong, inspirational women behind them.
How has the journey been over the years?
The first Mrs Mpumalanga was hosted in 2015 and we started with only a top 6 finalist to host a gala event. Mrs Mpumalanga is now preparing for its sixth year and the pageant is bigger and better than ever before. Over the past four years, it has changed into a full-scale entertainment beauty pageant production that is often described by media as the Function of the year. The production and gala event are all about the finalists, giving honour to the reigning queen, celebrities in attendance, outstanding performances by artists, dancers and of course the red-carpet fashion extravaganza of the guests.
What differentiates Mrs Mpumalanga from other beauty pageants?
Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga is all about women first of all accepting themselves and their bodies as it is. There is no length or weight requirements as we are promoting women to embrace themselves especially after having children. Also important is that these competitions are not a beauty pageant as such, we are looking for an ambassador for the province of Mpumalanga in other words NOT JUST a pretty face but the full package. Our slogan is sassy, sensual and smart. We are looking for women that can make a difference in their communities and province, an inspiration to other women to make them realize they are never to old to still dream and reach for those dreams. Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga is only a vehicle that can help make these dreams come true.
How do you select ladies and finalists for the pageants?
The first round is to have an interview with each and every entrant, it is important to find out about the background, what they want to achieve and why they entered. We are all about upliftment so it is important to establish the emotional level the person is on, do they know what will be expected of them, that their lives will change to a public persona and all the pros and cons coming with the status of becoming a celebrity almost overnight. The journey is not an easy one. You have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone onto a public stage where you will be becoming almost public property in a way.
After Interviews, we choose the finalists and announcements are done. We do the first workshop and handover of sashes two weeks after announcements of finalists. Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga MS is a four-month journey and they will have to reach certain targets that will also count towards judging scores. The gala event is the last and final round before crowning where they have an intensive interview with 6 judges, scoring on the past four months performance reaching targets and social media and media exposure, a final score on evening gown selection and then the last question asked by judges.
What are some of the memorable moments you’ve had working with the Queens?
Each and every queen is bringing something different to the pageants depending on what their strengths are. There were so many memorable moments that it will almost be unfair to highlight only a few. We have contributed to the establishment of orphanages, soup kitchens, second hand clothing shops, monetary contributions to abused women organizations and to be very honest it is all finalists that contribute to memorable moments not only the reigning queens.
What are some of the causes and initiatives that are dear to you and the brand?
Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga MS is all about upliftment of women! The moment we have done that we have a group of women that can bring change in their communities and their province. The establishment of self-worth, self-respect, further education opportunities, new business opportunities and being able to operate as part of a family and independent established individual is very important to us as a brand. Working with different women with different strengths we can concentrate on almost all aspects in our communities, children, elderly, animal shelters, tourism etc. Remember we are ambassadors not only bringing change in our communities but also promoting our beautiful province.
What plans do you have for this year’s contestants and the final crowning night?
All planning will be done around COVID19 and regulations from government. We can however promise we will not compromise on the standard of our pageant and it will as always be the function of the year. We are planning the gala event for 28 November and it promises to be the event of the year with all the glitz and glamour of fashion, entertainment and our stunning finalists competing for the crown.
Your crowning nights are usually beautiful with amazing performances and good turnouts. Take us through a brief idea on how the productions are put together.
It is with great admiration to say that the production team of Mrs Mpumalanga has achieved enormous heights on national and International levels. Mpumalanga is extremely privileged and honored to have so many talents. I firmly believe in team efforts by allowing the entire production team to give their insights and I am convinced that we stimulate each other and apply our best endeavors to supersede the production standard of previous years.
As the Executive Producer and CEO of Mrs Mpumalanga, there is nothing more inspiring than to listen to my team’s ideas and growth each year and to know this is a team of immense excellence.
The Mrs Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga Ms crowning is all about the finalists, we give them an opportunity to shine on the night. Letting them go and enjoy their moment on stage and be applauded for all the hard work they have done throughout the year.
We strive for them to feel like queens on that night starting from designed outfits right through to stage makeup, hair AND Yes! … they are extremely nerve wrecked before hand but on the final moment they confidently approach the stage and experience joy and fun and it is clearly noticeable on their facial expressions on how they humbly appreciate the applauding of the friends, family and crowd.
It all starts by keeping it sassy, sensual and smart and by working with experienced sound and lighting technicians, professional choreographers’ vocal artists, skilled backstage managers and of course PROPPER planning by keeping your finger on the pulse.
In a nutshell – production planning starts 5-6 months in advance by planning and sketching a modern and sophisticated stage layout that will allow each and every act approaching the stage to reach their full potential we constantly work with our vocal artists by choosing and preparing the right song. Choices that fits in with the theme we have for each year. We then collaborate them with the dance choreographers with whom they work hand in hand to bring in a move or 2 and be perfectly synced with the dancers who are accompanying them on stage.
Only our hand picked professionals are able to sync and skillfully plot lighting with every movement made on stage. We then coordinate the finalists with the dance choreographers and train them with their walks, poise and poses on stage.
With the previous Mrs. Mpumalanga and Provincial Mpumalanga Ms crowning, we surprised the crowd with an opening where all our finalists showed off their dancing skills. We started it all off with intense rehearsals during our 7 days production week, prior to the production and simultaneously commence building the stage from scratch while we are discreetly plotting cameras, lights and intense late night repetitions. Production prepping never goes perfectly smooth but with a professional team like ours we always find a way to adapt and we learn from each other, each year and we have seen so much growth! The team invites you to come and enjoy the next production and notice the glamour and detail involved. Dates to be confirmed soon. Please visit the Mrs Mpumlanga Facebook Page to stay updated
Lastly, what things do you love about your province Mpumalanga?
Mpumalanga – land where the sun rises is exactly that! It is a province filled with new opportunities for everyone. We are diverse but we strive for unity. We are a province where people of different background, culture and race can still come together working together to achieve one goal – building a better South Africa and a stronger nation.