For 27-year-old TV makeup artist Muzi Zuma, makeup is about reminding people how beautiful they are and offers her, as an artist, an opportunity to have a positive and happy contribution in people’s lives.
“Makeup makes it easier for me to explore and express myself, this also means it allows to help others fall in love with expressing themselves too,” she explains.
Her parents were initially sceptical about her going into the makeup industry, but they came around: “It took a while to win my parents’ full support, but when I did get it, it propelled me to even greater things because they were now in my corner and I no longer wanted to prove them wrong, I just wanted to make them proud,” she adds.
Zuma is a finalist for this year’s Miss Gay South Africa pageant, a platform which allowed her to partner with the Pietermaritzburg gay and lesbian network and Access Chapter 2 to tackle issues affecting the quality of life of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual (LGBTIQA+) community.
“I am doing this so that I can use my voice to call out any discrimination and abuse on the grounds of sexual orientation”.
Zuma is also working with the Department of Health and the non-profit organisation TBHIVcare, as an ambassador for health care.
“So many of my fellow brothers and sisters don’t even go to clinics, hospitals and police stations because they fear being ridiculed, mocked and patronised by the public staff,” she says. “This needs to stop because it directly impacts our health, security and access to justice.”
Zuma considers herself an activist of “self first, advocating for self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-love and self-contentment”, all of which are radical acts for a marginalised community like the LGBTIQA+ that’s often treated as second-class humans.
For Zuma, and many members of the queer community, acceptance is a constant struggle, which is why she adds, “I don’t want to be ‘tolerated’ or treated like a test-tube project because of my bold individuality and expressionism. I also no longer want to lose work because of my sexuality and gender fluidity. I want to be treated like a human by humans, because that’s all I am”.
She has charted new paths for herself and for those who come after her. Her notable accolades include shooting her fashion film documentary with MAC cosmetics which received two Bokeh international fashion film festival nominations. She has also done the make up of Grammy award winner Lalha Hathaway and hosted her own makeup masterclasses in Africa as an independent freelancer. —Welcome Lishivha