In today’s world, there is a persistent myth: if a woman is attractive, then she is automatically impossibly unintelligent. The idea that she could manage to let her attractiveness and other talents work to her advantage are completely asinine. At Ladybrille we’ve decided to combat that stereotype with this month’s theme of Modelpreneurs. A “Modelpreneur” is a beautiful woman who is not only dazzling in appearance but [with her intelligence] and successful professional endeavors.
Congo-born model and humanitarian Noella Coursaris Musunka is a shining example of such a woman. A woman’s true beauty is revealed when she feeds and fortifies her mind and soul and those of others around her. Her face – whether blemished or flawless – is what is seen at a glance but, often, there is so much more. A woman can be [beautiful], but also brilliant in intellect and spirit.
Born to a Congolese mother and a Cypriot father in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Noella Coursaris Musunka was sent to live abroad at an early age. Some years ago, the modeling bug bit when Noella entered a contest to become the face of an Agent Provocateur campaign. When she beat out the competition, the wheels of her trailblazing modeling career were set in motion. Since then, her image has graced billboards and magazine pages the world over, representing brands like Apple, Virgin Mobile and Organic Root Stimulator. Despite traveling and seeing many of the wonders of the world, Coursaris’ heart still lies in Africa. Noella’s connection with the land of her birth is unbreakable even after years of separation.
In 2007, Coursaris Musunka founded the Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF). The foundation, which is named for the Model’s late father, was created to provide educational opportunities for young Congolese girls. According to a May 2008 report from the Britain-based advocacy group Save the Children UK, in the Congo and many other developing nations incidences of sexual abuse of children by aid workers and peacekeepers have increased. With that and many other factors in mind, GMF is nothing short of a miracle. Education brings endless possibilities and new pathways out of oppression and poverty; Coursaris is right on time with her efforts.
Without further ado, we give you Africa’s Humanitatian Modelpreneur, Noella Coursaris Musunka!
LADYBRILLE.com: You are an accomplished model, how did you get into the industry?
Noella: I got started through a competition Agent Provocateur in London. I did the competition and they selected me for the campaign. From that a lot other opportunities, other campaigns, feature in various magazines [and so forth].
LADYBRILLE.com: What are some of your rules-to-live-by in the industry and for life in general?
Noella: To treat people equally no matter where they come from or what they do. I love children, and I love Africa!
LADYBRILLE.com: Who helped you along the road you’re on now?
Noella: I have amazing friends, family, people that believe in me, my modeling agency, people from the fashion industry, and God.
LADYBRILLE.com: What have been some of your most memorable experiences modeling?
Noella: To travel. It’s a unique experience, [I can] adapt myself in any country because I have to work, and with different people.
LADYBRILLE.com: What impact do you feel African Models have had both in Africa and [W]estern fashion industries?
Noella: They are getting more doors open for them.
LADYBRILLE.com: Yes, you are a model [and] you are also a well-educated woman? What is/was it like juggling the two?
Noella: I work hard, I learn every day, I read a lot, and I’m eager to learn. People have the wrong idea of models. To be a model isn’t easy, and most of them are very smart. You have to manage yourself, manage your career, your work, your money, travel . . . and think about your future as it’s a short term career.
LADYBRILLE.com: What projects are you currently working on?
Noella: I just did the ad for Organic Root Stimulator. There is a lot going on with my foundation, the George Malaika Foundation. I just came back from Congo, [it was] a very powerful trip. We are sponsoring 16 girls for September 2008, paying their school, food, orphanage, and uniform fees. Another project [we’re working on] is to build an ecological school, for 150 children, in a poor area in Congo, exactly outside Lubumbashi [Coursaris Musunka’s hometown] for the 2009 academic year.
LADYBRILLE.com: Noella, we salute you for providing a shining example of what it means to be Ladybrille.
Noella: Thank [you].
First Published June 2008
(CNN Feature 2013)