Entries for Miss South Africa 2021 have now closed and the four judges, who will pick the Top 30 that will go forward to the next round, are busy reviewing entry forms and videos ahead of the reveal on Tuesday July 6.
They are all former Miss South Africa title holders with Bokang Montjane-Tshabalala (2010) and Liesl Laurie (2015), who judged last year, being joined by first-time judges Melinda Bam (2011) and Tamaryn Green (2018).
Says CEO of the Miss South Africa Organisation, Stephanie Weil: “Who better to pick the Top 30 than former title holders who have walked in the shoes of this year’s entrants and who will be able to bring out the best in each candidate while giving pertinent advice. They know what qualities a potential Miss South Africa needs to possess to represent this country on international stages.”
Explains Laurie: “I have been there and sat in the chair and I know how extremely nervous one can get. Seeing those amazing women at the other side of the table (or in the time of Covid, a computer screen) can make you forget everything, including your own name! It is one of the biggest interviews of their lives because they are interviewing for a job as an ambassador for South Africa. My priority is to make them feel comfortable and at ease so they present the best version of themselves.”
Her views are echoed by Bam: “I have seen first-hand, from entry to reign, what qualities distinguish the winners from the other contestants. I also appreciate what new efforts and perspectives are needed to have a reign that is authentic and relevant to South Africa.
I am looking for someone who is well aware of the social and global issues that face this generation. I am also looking for someone who is direct, yet diplomatic; who can navigate these issues with superior emotional intelligence, and is able to speak to corporate South Africa while also being a familiar and comforting face to our communities.”
Says Montjane-Tshabalala: “Experience definitely brings more compassion to my judging; having walked this journey I know exactly how it feels to want something so bad that you take a leap of faith to reach your dreams. It’s usually very emotional for me. It’s humbling to have been on the inside for the past four years and be part of the decision-making process.”
They each give their ultimate piece of advice for entrants.
Laurie: “What served me very well, when I entered the Miss South Africa competition, was to be fiercely authentic and to be myself, as cliched as that may sound. I knew that I had to shine as Liesl Laurie in 2015. There was no way I was going to walk away with the title if I was going to emulate a Rolene Strauss, a Melinda Bam or a Tatum Keshwar or all those women who had come before me. I had to remain true to the township young girl I was and embrace that knowing that this was my star power and star quality. I was the true definition of a Cinderella story and I proudly owned it!”
Montjane-Tshabalala: “Be yourself, be genuine, be honest and bring your A-game!”
Bam: “Be a true representation of yourself and not what you think you ought to be. A Miss South Africa is a representative of her country to the core; it’s not something that is just a temporary vocation. We want to see how far and deep your conviction stretches. It has never been a title to define or validate an individual; the impact of such a platform stretches far greater than one person’s gain. The Miss South Africa title holder will always be someone who crowns her nation in glory, not just wears a crown for herself.”
Green: “Always be your authentic self and your heart and intention will shine through effortlessly.”
Green also believes that pageants have changed significantly since she wore the crown: “The Miss South Africa competition has definitely evolved and become more modern and inclusive of all women. This partly has to do with the new owners of the pageant. The new team has really embraced change. There is now a larger focus on the woman as a whole, the skills she has and what she stands for, and not just her outer beauty.”
“When I entered 11 years ago, we were not allowed to compete with our natural hair as society standards didn’t appreciate African beauty. Now, the new directors believe in inclusion and, together with us as judges, continue to fight for equal representation and use this platform to ensure everyone is represented, while educating people that beauty is multifaceted,” says Montjane-Tshabalala.
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic and Sun International.