Not a moment's rest for this beauty
A Sharpeville lass, Lerato Moloi, was doing so well in London that her agent deliberately kept her busy modelling so that she wouldn't find time to come home.
Moloi, who was a runner-up in the 2000 Face of Africa pageant, says: "Every time I was about to come home, they booked me for more shoots and I had to postpone my trip.
"The place is cold and the people are unpleasant. The only nice people you meet are foreigners. I also missed the sun - I was too light and really missed my dark skin, so I want to get a tan," she says.
It's not only the warm, sunny weather of the continent that she missed; as far as she's concerned, there are no better men than South Africans.
"When I left, I thought there would be competition for my boyfriend, but now I know that South African men are the men. Even David Craig, the British musician, is really nothing to write home about," she reckons.
Moloi is now in the country, waiting for a work permit to go to New York for another modelling assignment.
While she is here, she and Richard, an American model friend she met in London, are working as volunteers at the Twilight children's home in Berea, Johannesburg.
Moloi owes her success to her mother Sarah Moloi, a nursing sister based in London, who always knew, even when her daughter was still young, that she would be a star.
Sarah says: "When your child is born, you hope for a healthy, bouncy baby. Lerato was so cute that when she was six, I entered her in the Miss Ladybird competition."
Moloi was crowned first princess at that Miss Ladybird pageant. But according to her mother, she cried "because she wanted to be the queen".
In 1999, when Moloi was in Grade 12, Sarah was attracted to the Face of Africa competition. "I heard about the auditions on television, and just knew that Lerato was perfect for the competition. They wanted a tall, dark African lady, so, on the day of the selection, I phoned her school and asked if she could miss some classes to make it for the audition.
"When we arrived there, she was given some clothes to wear and was asked to walk on the ramp. The judges were so impressed with her that one even commented that she had already won," she says. "I wasn't worried about all those negative stories about models - Lerato is very responsible and loves helping people. If it wasn't for her successful career in modelling, she would have been a clinical psychologist," Sarah adds.
The lanky Nombulelo Mazibuko of Langa, Cape Town, won the pageant instead. But all was not completely lost for Moloi because she was one of the four runners-up. On that day, her life took a dramatic turn when she won a one-year, US$50 000 modelling contract.
Although that contract only begins this year, Moloi hasn't had much rest. When she visited her mother in London early last year, she approached an agency and has since been gracing the same catwalks as Naomi Campbell and her favourite model, Milla Jovovich of Russia. She has also appeared on the cover of almost every fashion magazine in Britain.