Former Miss SA and Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Picture: Supplied
Former Miss SA and Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Picture: Supplied

#WomensMonth: Demi-Leigh advises the Miss SA hopefuls

By Mpiletso Motumi Time of article published Aug 7, 2019

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Former MissSouth Africa and Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is in the country to judge the 16 hopefuls vying for the Miss South Africa 2019 title. 

She spoke to The Star about her plans, time in the United States and what she hopes for the new Miss South Africa:

How has life in the US been?

It has definitely been a big adjustment from, cultural, to food, to humour, to not having your close friends and family around you. So it has been a big adjustment, but I am grateful for the support system  I have back home, and the support system I have in the United States with my Fiancé and his family and all my amazing new friends that I have made over there. I am also very excited to work with IMG Models as a professional fashion model in New York City, this is where a lot of my focus has been the past couple of months. So the US has treated me well, but home will always be home and I miss it so much.

You're back to judge Miss SA 2019, what advice do you have for the ladies?

I understand what these ladies are going through. They are so stressed, they are nervous and they don’t really know what to expect, they are probably so scared of doing something wrong, but if I can give them one piece of advice - be yourself. When you are yourself, there is no wrong and there is no right, because being authentic and true to who you are and owning it is all anyone could ever ask of you. So embrace this experience, take it in just be present in that moment and enjoy it. When you enjoy the moment you’re in, it shows in your actions, it shows in your words, in your expressions and in your eyes 

What are you looking for in a Miss South Africa?

I am definitely looking for a lady, not a girl. I am looking for someone that knows who she is as an individual, that embraces who she is, and that doesn’t just see this title as a bucket list item. Someone who sees this as a life changing opportunity, not just for herself, but the opportunity to use this platform to make a meaningful difference in her community, in our country and essentially in our world. I am looking for a lady that is kind and genuine, someone that is a hard worker, that doesn’t give up easily and that has a lot of dedication, because these are the qualities you need to fulfil your duties as Miss South Africa. It is a tough job – there are many long hours, there are some difficult days and a lot of traveling, so I think a lady with those qualities will definitely make a great Miss South Africa.

What do you think makes South Africans shine?

I think living in the US it has given me an outsider's perspective on South Africa, and something that makes South Africans shine is our warm heartedness, and how we welcome and accept everyone, we are truly a nation of community, who embraces diversity.

Are you working on any new projects this year? 

Yes I am. I rarely had the opportunity to work as a full time model or to pursue a professional career in modelling, because school was always my priority. Now that I have the time to do this full time, it’s really exciting to know that I am giving it a real chance, that I am putting in all my effort to make this opportunity as successful as I can. I am very excited to see what the next couple of months will have in store for me.

What is your take on the way Miss South Africa is evolving beauty standards? 

What stands out for me is how our top 16 really represent all women of our nation, the whole of our country. I think that many women across the country can relate to at least one of the finalists, which is wonderful, because Miss South Africa is an inspiration, she is a role model, she is a trend setter, she encourages young girls to live their dreams, to work for their dreams and to be the best that they can be. I am excited about how the Miss South Africa organisation embraces women and womanhood. That they don’t just stick to the stereotypical pageant queen look, I look at these ladies and I have never seen a more diverse group of ladies, so it really makes me proud as a South African.

What is your wish for the soon to be Miss South Africa? 

I am beyond excited to welcome her into the Miss South Africa sisterhood, we have a WhatsApp group where we communicate on a weekly basis, so I can’t wait to add her to our group. The message I have for her is: It is so much to take in - just pause, take a moment, and breathe it all in. You are Miss South Africa 2019, it is a big honour, be grateful for every opportunity, when it is long hours, you haven’t seen your friends or family, be grateful for those opportunities, because like me, she has probably prayed to be in this position for so long, and she has worked hard for so long. Stay focused stay happy because at the end of the day, all the positive love you send out to the world will be returned, even more.

Miss South Africa will take place on Women's Day. 

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