Levi’s South Africa has produced a short film profiling one of the country’s leading drag personalities, Manila Von Teez.
Directed by Meghan Daniels, the three-and-a-half-minute Your Voice is Your Power documentary is part of the clothing brand’s international “Use Your Voice” Pride 2020 campaign.
It features Von Teez, (aka drag artist Veon Wentzel), talking about the motivation behind her art and the power of the LGBTIQ community in the week leading up to her recent performance at Cape Town Pride.
Entering the drag scene in 2011, Von Teez went on to become the runner-up of SA’s Got Talent in 2016. She also earned titles such as Miss Black Pride, Miss Cape Town Pride, Miss Cape Peninsula and Miss Pink Loerie.
The star – who is known for her high-energy sets – also performed at the wedding of the year; that of gay celebrity couple Somizi Mhlongo and Mohale Motaung, in January.
Wentzel told MambaOnline that making the film with Levi’s was “crazy” and a “highlight” of his career.
“This is a brand a grew up wanting to wear and here I was in a collaboration with them,” he said. “It has been an amazing experience. I was free to do whatever I wanted. That a large brand allowed me, especially as a drag artist, to be me, is everything.”
Sam Claase from Andpeople, the agency behind the film, explained why Levi’s chose to feature Von Teez in the video. “Manila is one of many incredible artists leading the way through the LGBTQI+ scene in South Africa right now,” said Claase.
“She embodies what it means to be a queer artist today. Her passion, charisma and pure love for her art are what drew us toward her. Personally – when I first saw Manila perform, the queen inside jumped out. She has the power to make you feel unstoppable. If you haven’t experienced a Manila live performance, I’d encourage you to find one immediately!”
Claase added: “We will continue to support the LGBTQ+ community going forward and build longstanding relationships with representatives of the community like [fashion designer] Rich Mnisi.”
The company is also putting its money where its mouth is. The Levi’s Use Your Voice campaign includes a special edition Pride 2020 clothing collection that is available in stores and online.
All the net proceeds from sales of the collection will go towards OutRight Action International, an organisation which works to “research, document, defend, and advance human rights for LGBTIQ people around the world.”
“At Levi’s, we’ve been longstanding advocates for equality – never afraid to use our voice to do what’s right for our employees, our partners and our fans,” commented Jen Sey, SVP & CMO, Global Brands at Levi Strauss & Co. “In turn, we are also proud to support those who speak up for equality, who use their voices to drive progress and make a positive impact in their communities.”
Watch Manila Von Teez in the Your Voice is Your Power film below.