NNALONGO JUDITH HEARD, 35, is a model and socialite who recently won the Miss Elite Africa at the 2021 Miss Elite World beauty pageant that took place in Egypt. Quick Talk caught up with her for a chat about fashion and beauty.
Congratulations on your recent win, Judith!
Thank you! It is really an honour.
What does the title mean to you?
It means a lot of happiness to me and reminds me every day to wake up and work harder and to challenge myself every single day.
What does a Miss Elite do?
Miss Elite is an international beauty pageant, one of the largest and most prestigious around the globe, with 34 contestants from the entire world. Founded by Stefano Douaihy, Miss Elite aims to find the most exceptional representatives to celebrate women’s beauty.
The jury consists of icons, judging the participants on their physique, individuality, intellect, beauty and, most importantly, the ability to captivate the audience with their performance.
Each contestant presents her own nation’s identity along distinctive beauty, culture, tradition and ethnicity at a world platform. Through this competition, we aim to celebrate the unity of all nations by bringing them together to the cradle of all civilization– the beloved Egypt.
How were you selected to represent Uganda?
I applied and got nominated through their vetting process and I was found eligible with all requirements to represent Uganda.
What do you think made you stand out?
Not sure, but my earlier reach-out projects with Day One Global had the jury intrigued that I would touch even more lives after winning the crown.
What is your take on Uganda’s fashion industry?
It is growing big. Thanks to individuals like Joram Muzira [model scout and manager] who are selfless at promoting the industry deeds.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Walking the runway at New York Fashion Week 2019 and the UNESCO African Exhibition in Paris, France in 2018.
Who inspires you and why?
Naomi Campbell, because she is one of the legendary fashion icons that has put the African craft on the world market [at 50, the black British supermodel has lately dedicated her time to promoting African fashion, especially Nigerian designers].
Whose famous person’s wardrobe would you gleefully raid?
Rihanna [the Barbados-born music superstar]. Her wardrobe is chic, inspiring and creative.
What has permanent space in your handbag every day?
A perfume. A lady has got to smell fresh and clean throughout the day.
What is the most expensive fashion item you own?
I have quite a number but I hate mentioning prices, because it is not the price that matters but how you rock your outfits.
What do you think is the most ridiculous fashion trend right now?
Sagging pants. It is not creative at all and yes, ridiculous. [Quick Talk agrees...]
What fashion trends are you into currently?
Boyfriend jeans and T-shirts, because they are so easy to adapt and put together [Quick Talk has also seen Judith in different FlingFire sweatshirts and hoodies].
What is the secret to maintaining that beautiful figure at 35 with a set of twins?
Self-love and contentment.
Is there anything on your body you would change, given a chance?
I have learnt to live and love myself just the way I am; so, there is nothing I would change on my body.
You are one of the few celebrities who have maintained their natural black skin complexion...?
Everyone is entitled to doing what they want and what makes them happy. Personally, I would not do that [Judith is a lanky, dark beauty].
Have you ever felt the pressure to lighten up your complexion, though?
What do you like most about yourself?
My sense of humour. I see the good in everything and I love to see everyone happy.
What is that one thing most people would be surprised to know about you?
That I am born-again. [Yep. Quick Talk didn’t see that one coming].
Amen! Now, what has been the best destination you have travelled to so far?
London will always be my best destination, because I got to do my BBC interview there and I have got good friends there who are in the entertainment and fashion industry.
Your dream destination?
That would be Bali, an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The island is home to religious sites such as Cliffside Uluwatu Temple.
To the south, the beachside city of Kuta has lively bars, while Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns. I would also love to visit the island because of its yoga and meditation retreats. [Clearly, this girl really wants to visit Bali!]
I would also love to visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park for their mountain gorillas.
Me too! Who is your best Ugandan male model?
Paul Mwesigwa. From Uganda, he has gone on to model for global brands and walk on international runways.
Besides fashion and modeling, what else are you involved in?
I am also doing humanitarian work.
Oh? Tell me more.
I founded an NGO, Day One Global, which is an advocacy organization that seeks to end rape and sexual assault by creating awareness and rehabilitation of survivors in Uganda.
Nice! What next for you in your career?
I am looking forward to many more partnerships, endorsements and opportunities. With the “JUST FROZE CAMPAIGN”, I am spearheading an awareness program that aims to challenge and change the social stigma about the right or wrong way for people to react during or after rape and sexual assault.
Survivors often fear being judged if they were unable to fight back during rape.
How are you spending this lockdown?
I am using this time for learning and researching about different aspects of life and topics, and also growing as a person.
Born Judith Allen Kanyengwa, Judith Heard was born on March 13, 1986 in Lacor hospital, Gulu to the late John Musana and Olive Bitature.
She is the last born of three girls. Their father died during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She went to Kampala Parents Primary School, Kigali Parents School, Fawe Girls Secondary School and Ndera Secondary School in Rwanda.
She dropped out of school to pursue modeling upon her return to Uganda in 2002, where she joined Sylvia Owori and became the face of African Woman magazine.
Judith married Dr Richard Alex Heard in 2003 and the couple has three children – an adoptive son and twin girls. They, however, divorced in 2014.