Born and bred in a small town called Nkowankowa in Limpopo, 22 year old Mahlatse Makwela is one of the top 12 Miss Regal International South Africa contestants, who is set to break boundaries in the modeling industry. Miss Regal International SA is a pageant about women who are modern, intelligent and beautiful. It is a proud supporter POWA charity organization.
Growing up in a modern family where love was in the air, Makwela was taught to be a strong and grounded woman at a very young age. Although she was a tomboy until the age of 13, the power of a woman was embedded in her by her father.
“I don’t remember a moment when I was unhappy in my childhood because I was loved and nurtured by those around me,” says Makwela.
Mahlatse Makwela, Miss Regal International SA finalist. Picture: SDR.
She believes that her being a model is something innate - her mother, in her time, was also a model.
“I remember I used to get so caught up watching Fashion TV, thinking and hoping to be part of an art that captures the differences we as humans have. So I must say that I have always been fond of modelling,” she says.
Despite modelling not being a big deal in Limpopo, Makwela entered a few local pageants where she won several titles, including being the 1st princess of Miss Love Life and Miss Nkowankowa.
That’s really when her passion for modelling was ignited.
“When I got accepted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, I told myself that I would work hard to break into the modelling industry. I was only 17 when I moved to a whole new province, alone and ready to take on new experiences.
“The first thing I did when I got there was enter Miss UKZN Howard College campus, where I was scouted by Derrick Mhlongo, founder of Lindoni Models,” says Makwela.
She was in her element, and has since been the face of Mr Price Home and has worked with the likes of David Tlale.
She has broadened her portfolio after recently being signed under Ice Models in Durban.
Mahlatse Makwela. Picture: Supplied.
“Talent is a God-given gift that should never be wasted. I’ve projected and learnt that my voice can be heard through my talent. Modelling has created a common ground that celebrates the differences that exist among humankind. I guess I love the adrenalin that comes with it,” she says.
Like any other profession, modelling also has its challenges, and Makwela feels that “the most demeaning challenge the modelling industry has is the unintended preconceived mindset African people have about how women should look and behave.
“Mindset is a mechanism that drives how we view life, and acknowledging that we are moving to more modern times is the change that I would like to see.”
After entering Miss SA as a teenager and not being fully prepared for it, Makwela thinks that with Miss Regal International SA she will do very well as she has grown and learnt a lot.
“I entered Miss South Africa when I was 18. I remember feeling inadequate and unprepared when I went into a room full of influential people. There and then I realised that it takes hard work to become a brand.
“What I learnt through this experience is that working on yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
“I have learnt the importance of facing everything and rising. And that is what has led me to where I am today,” says Makwela.
Mahlatse Makwela struts in a snake skin dress. Picture: Supplied.
Being in the top 12 of Miss Regal International SA means that she is growing her brand and empowering more women.
She adds: “I am empowered by a brand that speaks the voice of women. Society has silenced the differences that exist among humankind. Regal - Royal, gem- like an accessory piece, Miss Regal International SA goes well with empowering women.
“This will be a platform to echo my bold voice in a different way of empowering women. Having that added to my brand would not only be a dream come true but would allow me to share my talent and contribute my energy and time in seeing change.”
Besides modelling, Makwela has an honours degree in psychology, which she says is her biggest achievement, after making her parents so proud.
To her, Women’s Month means celebrating the strength and patience women have formed over the years.
“It’s a month that allows women to be feminists without having to explain why.”
Miss Regal International will take place on November 4.