From cover model to model of female empowerment, Carte Blanche’s inspiring Claire Mawisa is changing lives.
Growing up in the ’90s, Sunday nights meant only one thing for young Claire Mawisa and her brother: the eight o’clock movie. But before they could enjoy their movie, they had to sit quietly with their mother while she watched Carte Blanche. To Claire’s inquisitive and sharp young mind, there was something captivating about this showcase of serious investigative journalism. But although she was drawn to the stories, little did she know that she was actually looking at her future.
In 2015, Carte Blanche – the show she’d watched as a child and loved for more than 20 years – offered her the position of presenter and reporter. ‘It’s been an amazing opportunity in my late 30s to click refresh on my career,’ says Claire. ‘The show has introduced me to a whole new audience in a whole new way, and this feels like a gift.’
‘A whole new audience in a whole new way’ is saying a lot for a woman whose career has changed trajectory many times, gathering acclaim, fans and experience on almost every media platform possible. Claire was spotted by a modelling agent and signed to Topco Models at the age 14. She won the coveted Cosmopolitan Model of the Year 1994 award and then became the youngest and only the second black model to grace the cover of the magazine. ‘That modelling career changed the trajectory of my life,’ says Claire. ‘I was the tennis ball, the modelling career was the wall, and I hit it hard. Modelling opened the world to me.’
But she was more than just a pretty face in the fashion industry.
Claire’s positive can-do attitude and energy, and smarts, saw her inundated with opportunities from people eager to work with her. Now 39, Claire has also worked as a TV-show host, magazine beauty editor and radio presenter. To fans, her life is the epitome of the ultimate celebrity: glamorous, newsworthy, and coveted. To Claire, it’s probably the least interesting thing about her.
The work she’s most proud of and most passionate about, she says, is the female-empowerment workshops that she and her business partner Karen Burt have built. ‘None of my career highs really compare
to this.’ Now under the umbrella of Luminosity Lab, Claire and Karen offer a number of workshops for girls and women, each tailored to address issues specific to different life stages.
Read the full interview with Claire in your August issue of Balanced Life.