Yaya Mavundla: “I Am Equally Worthy As Any Other Woman”


Yaya Mavundla can officially add Glamour South Africa cover star to her achievements (Photos: Silver Casamero)

South African transgender activist, fashionista, artist, reality TV star, and media personality Yaya Mavundla is celebrating International Women’s Month as the March digital cover star of Glamour South Africa, in partnership with Durex.

Setting trends and breaking new ground for the LGBTIQ+ community, and always accompanied by her inimitable sense of style, the KZN-born Mavundla spoke to MambaOnline about her latest achievement.

What does it mean to you to be on the cover of Glamour South Africa?

It is such a great affirmation that I am equally worthy as any other woman who is in the same industry as myself, even the ones who do not rate me or respect me. And my trans visibility activism work is yet again on the map.

And what does it mean for queer/trans representation and visibility more broadly?

It’s such a major stride. A lot of transgender and queer people and those who are marginalised are seeing it’s possible to do so much more. Glamour is an international magazine, and it is not an easy publication to land yourself on a cover of. It is such a statement and therefore a conversation about transgender women being women is solidified. I think it’s even more special that it’s happening during International Women’s month.

And the cover received the international seal of approval!

Yes, Condé Nast Publications in New York, in their own words, said they love the cover! The editor shared that at the cover reveal party. It’s great for all of us to know we are seen and celebrated as the women we see ourselves as. And I am glad that I am an openly transgender woman so that there is no confusion about why this is important and widely celebrated.

What impact would you like the cover to have on the readers of the magazine?

The cover is accompanied by such an amazing story about my work with Durex and my journey as a transgender activist. I hope everyone reading it gets to take away something from it. Also, for brands to start taking us seriously, knowing that we are worthy and deserving of being treated with respect and being paid for our time and names.

What else can the trans community take from this?

This happened, of course, not just because the time was right according to God and my ancestors, but also due to the hard work and dedication I’ve put in. I hope it will offer motivation for all of us to know that whatever you want and need in life, hard work, dedication, and perseverance pays off.

“It is a blessing and a major dream realised.”

Tell us about shooting the cover and working with the Glamour South Africa team?

I love Editor-in-Chief Nontando Mposo for her values and because she has a strong journalism background. She treats everyone and every story as equally important. The fact that Durex and Glamour trusted me to lead the creative concept and gave me the freedom to work with my own team – make-up artist, photographer etc.- showed that they respect my work. It was really liberating.

Is the Glamour South Africa cover something that you’ve wanted for a while?

Anyone who is in the entertainment industry and wants to have a leading brand and longevity wants to be on a major magazine cover. It comes with a lot of respect, so, of course, yes. This is my sixth cover, but I didn’t expect Glamour to happen now. It is a blessing and a major dream realised.

Tell us about your collaboration with Durex to encourage people to engage in safe sex.

I’ve been working with Durex for three seasons now, and it has been so amazing to work with a brand that respects me, sees me, and knows I have to get paid my worth for my work. It’s also great that the brand speaks to important issues such as sex and pleasure in our society and leads the conversation positively – with the inclusion of transgender people and the LGBTIQ+ community.

Any exciting projects coming up?

I work in an industry where people want the same thing and can be envious and will sabotage what you do. You can’t trust anymore, so I would like to just work and then celebrate at the same time as when the news comes out. But it is going to be yet again a great year!

Read Yaya Mavundla’s Glamour cover story here.

Becoming Yaya Mavundla


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