Miss USA Nana Meriwether to Compete in Wildfox Model Beach Volleyball: "Maybe I'll Spread Rumors or Something"
Right now, New York City is floundering in icy, slushy chaos. The high hardly breaks 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, everything here at home is perfect blue skies and sunscreen on sandy beaches. It's no wonder Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriweather can't wait to get her butt down here.
The former Olympically-trained volleyball player will brush up on her spiking skills and try to lead her team of gorgeous bodies to victory in the fifth-annual Wildfox Model Beach Volleyball tournament. It's competitive sports for a good cause, with support for the Irie Foundation -- but watching all those models compete is worth it alone, right?
Meriweather is no stranger to good-deeds. Her family has been working with South African communities her whole life, and she recently founded her own foundation toward that goal. We spoke to her via phone to learn more about her philanthropic efforts, her sneaky game-plan, and her unfair advantage.
New Times: What have you been up to?
Nana Meriwether: I was Miss USA last year, and I gave up my title in June. I continued to live in New York City, and I work in development and fundraising for Meriwether foundation which is a non-profit organization that I helped co-found. We work in rural and very urban communities in Southern Africa. We've grown now to five countries. We're in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. I'm passionate about it, and I love to do it, so that's what I do during the day. But at night, I still do events and appearances out of New York.
I'd love to hear what drew you to that cause in the first place.
My mom was born and raised in South Africa. My father is an American doctor and in the early 1980s, my mom was studying in the states and she met my dad. They moved to South Africa, they were supposed to stay a year and they ended up staying eight years. I was born during this time. My dad was working in the local hospital, and my mom would help empower women through small business, such as organic farming. They ended up helping over half a million people while they were there for eight years, and that's what this is based off of. We continued working, traveling back and forth, but we started work with the nonprofit in 2007.
Have you ever participated in this crazy Wildfox model volleyball competition?
I have not. This is my first time. Actually, my first time in Miami was during Art Basel, this past one. I loved it. I'm very excited.
Are you naturally sporty? Have you played volleyball before?
I have. I played volleyball for UCLA, and then I played in Puerto Rico and trained for the Olympics. I retired soon after that, so I haven't touched a ball since 2006. We'll see how this weekend goes.
You could be the sleeper cell! You could just come through and wreck it.
But I haven't played in a while.
Do you know what team you're playing on? Are you cooperating with a certain modeling agency?
I think the first day, they randomly pick names out of a hat and then you're matched with that team. I think there's 12 teams, and all the people participating are models, not people.
Well models are people, too.
Yeah, they're a special breed of people. That's what makes this event amazing. They're really competitive, and they'll bring attention, and it's all for a good cause. It's a very uniquely-structured event that I'm looking forward to.