Finalists On 'Following' In Zozi's Footsteps, Changing Role Of Miss SA Amid Covid-19

With barely a few months left until Sasha-Lee Olivier hands over the coveted Miss SA to a new beauty queen, the finalists vying for her title reflected on the challenges and highlights of taking part in the pageant — and the pressure to “follow” in Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi's footsteps.

South Africans on Wednesday met the 10 beauties looking to clinch this year's title and possibly fly SA's flag high on the global beauty pageant stage.

The finalists represent six provinces — Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Limpopo and the North West — and are an impressive group which includes two medical doctors working on the Covid-19 front line, two full-time international models as well as marketing, education and economics graduates and a food scientist.
Finalists On 'Following' In Zozi's Footsteps, Changing Role Of Miss SA Amid Covid-19
Finalists On 'Following' In Zozi's Footsteps, Changing Role Of Miss SA Amid Covid-19
The beauties and organisers, at a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, spoke on a range of issues ahead of the glittering finale taking place in October.

CHALLENGES AS A FINALIST IN A PANDEMIC: One of the challenges contestants Karishma Ramdev highlighted was having to maintain distance from each other and not being able to embrace one another as fellow contestants.

“When we met each other, the first thing we wanted to do was hug each other and just be close, get to know each other a lot more, but the Miss SA organisation has our best interests at heart ... It's different this year, but it's incredible.”

The beauties also spoke of the pain in seeing the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on people's livelihoods and health over the past few months.

FOLLOWING IN ZOZI'S FOOTSTEPS: This year's finalists from the Eastern Cape, Melissa Nayimuli and Aphelele Mbiyo, said they initially felt pressure in representing Tunzi's home province but managed to overcome this by standing strong in their beliefs and pushing “a different message and a different legacy” thus far.

“Because we are so different ... it gives us an opportunity to amplify our voices and whatever we want to accomplish through the pageant,” said Mbiyo.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF MISS SA: CEO of the Miss SA Organisation Stephanie Weil said with the impact Covid-19 has had on SA and the world, the organisers have given thought to the new role Miss SA will play under the new normal.

“The one beauty and there are a few, but the one thing that I think has been bought into the real limelight is our ability to communicate with the broader audience using the powers of social media. So being able to still be a spokesperson ... doing it in an online way is going to be the way of the future and it's going to be how the representation and the representative has to work going forward.”

EXPANDING INTERNATIONAL VISIBILITY: Weil also addressed the decision to expand the number of international pageants finalists will enter, saying this was based on the desire to increase the country's visibility on the global beauty pageant stage.

Earlier, the organisation confirmed that the top three finalists would represent the country at the world’s three most prestigious pageants — the usual Miss Universe and Miss World pageants, and now Miss Supranational.

Weil said of the decision to field a candidate to Miss Supranational was because the pageant spoke to the brand's “ethos and where we are” and allows a third person to make the country proud.

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