Tamaryn Green was crowned Miss South Africa 2018 at Sun Arena, in Pretoria last Sunday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
IT WAS a last-minute decision for Tamaryn Green to enter the Miss South Africa pageant.

She had decided to go to the Women 360 event in Cape Town the day before the regionals were held.

“I don't know exactly what it was; just a feeling, I can't describe it. At the beginning of this year I knew this was the year to enter.”

Many people asked her why she decided to go ahead with it when she had said she would first finish her studies. “You don’t want to disappoint your parents after five years of medical school. It's just my heart told me to get on stage and I did.”

The regionals were a lot of fun for her, but she was rusty as she hadn’t modelled for some time. At the same time it still felt familiar to her. Being herself, more than anything else, was something she made sure she did to shine and get noticed.

Fast forward to this past Sunday and that overwhelming feeling in her heart to enter the competition was rewarded. The new Miss South Africa takes over from Adè van Heerden, who took over the crown from reigning Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.

“It was a shocker when they called my name. This whole week has been overwhelming for me. To be honest, I think the whole thing only sunk in on Tuesday.”

After the event ended and the after-party had died down, Green went to her room and felt tons of emotions. “I’m just not used to all this attention. All the gifts, it’s been a lot to take in but my team told me this was natural and that I should give it a few weeks to get used to it. I feel abundantly blessed.”

Before winning Miss SA, she thought about the reality of that happening. “I knew it would be a different world to the one I am used to. And a completely different job. I thought about the attention and spoke to my family and friends about it. But all that preparation couldn't prepare me for when it happened.”

It was important for her to stay true to herself throughout the competition. “You meet all these lovely women. They are all beautiful and amazing. Everyone has their own strengths and you start to wonder if you are the person for this job, if you should speak like this person or should be shaped like that person. There were days when I had to bring myself back to why I entered and faith had a lot to do with it.”

The 23-year-old has worked hard to earn respect for her academic achievements. Her dreams of becoming a doctor were partly because her father also wanted to become one but the apartheid system denied him that.

“I always wanted to fulfil that dream for him. When I went to university and started medicine I fell in love with it.”

Education is a big part of the Green family. Her father is a curriculum adviser and her mother is a teacher. “I went to New Orleans Secondary School in Paarl, a fee-free school with its own challenges; the classes had about 50 to 55 children. I worked hard on my academics. It’s a school that wants to give every child an opportunity to be educated even though it is understaffed. It has a great spirit of community.”

After her win she watched reaction videos from her hometown in the Western Cape. “The people went crazy, I wish I was there with them. My mom and I just both started crying. My dad just told me how proud he was of me.”

Green can’t wait to gather the whole family around for tea and a good storytelling session when she gets home. For now, she focuses on her new role as ambassador for the country and inspiring people.

“I want people to remember me as someone who is relatable and down to earth. My main message is ‘always be yourself and be comfortable in your skin. Do not be limited by your circumstances, find your strengths and make a success of your life'."