Sunday Times

PAGEANT PATRIOTS

SA beauties converge for Miss Universe

- By LEONIE WAGNER

● As one of the top 10 favourites going into the Miss Universe pageant next weekend, Natasha Joubert hopes the crown will pass from one South African to another.

The winner will be announced in Florida, US, on Sunday.

Title-holder Zozi Tunzi, from the Eastern Cape, will crown the winner, having spent most of her reign in lockdown in her New York apartment.

Unlike previous years, Covid restrictio­ns mean Joubert is all alone in the US, with no glam squad to ensure she looks her best.

Giving her moral support is fellow South African and 2017 Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Tebow, who will be one of the backstage correspond­ents for the live show.

The two have known each other since Joubert was 16 and they hope to meet up in Florida for the state’s famous key lime pie. Speaking to the Sunday Times this week, Joubert, 23, described her mood as a melting pot of emotions as she gets ready to compete against 73 other beauty queens from around the world.

“I think it’s completely human to feel pressure regardless of the placements that we’ve had, and regardless of what the previous year’s outcome was, you want to do well.

“Beyond that, it’s a huge privilege to come after women such as [Tebow and Tunzi]. They inspire me to continue a legacy.”

While she admits she has felt lonely and at times overwhelme­d by the pressure to win, video calls and chats with Tebow have offered solace.

“Demi assisted me a lot in terms of telling me that this is something that’s mindsetbas­ed, you need to rock up here and be confidentl­y yourself. I told myself, this is what I have to offer, this is the best version of Natasha and the rest is destiny ... as soon as I got dressed this morning, and I went downstairs, I was like, OK, game on. This is South Africa and we aren’t here to play,” Joubert said.

Tebow’s advice to Joubert was to make sure she was mentally focused and clear about her intentions from the moment she walked up to the registrati­on table.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunit­y,” Tebow told the Sunday Times. “I know she realises this and that she takes it as a very big honour and responsibi­lity. I relate so much to that and I see a little piece of myself in Natasha. This isn’t just a fun experience for her. This is really a moment for her to carry the South African flag high.”

Tebow used the Miss Universe platform to launch her own career. With the obligatory baby-holding pictures, trips around the world and selfies with fans, she made a decision at the beginning of her reign to be more than just another beauty queen.

Before Covid she hosted self-defence workshops across the US, in Mexico and Indonesia. This was based on her Unbreakabl­e campaign, which she started as Miss SA following her traumatic car-jacking experience. She will also start two businesses this year and is a board member of her husband’s foundation. Husband Tim Tebow is a star quarterbac­k in American football. The foundation fights against human traffickin­g.

“I realised going into my year as Miss Universe that I get to use this as a stepping stone. This is not the be-all and end-all and just because I’ve won this title does not mean I’m set up for the rest of my life,” she said.

“It took me some time to figure out what I want to do career-wise. There were many nights of just feeling hopeless and just not knowing. Everyone told me if you win Miss Universe, you will be set, you will not have to do another thing, because all the opportunit­ies will just roll in the door and that wasn’t the case. It still takes hard work.”

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on May 16 in the US at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

 ??  ??
 ?? Picture: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images ?? Demi-Leigh Tebow has been giving Joubert advice for the big night.
Picture: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Demi-Leigh Tebow has been giving Joubert advice for the big night.
 ?? Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo ?? Natasha Joubert is among the favourites for Miss Universe.
Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo Natasha Joubert is among the favourites for Miss Universe.
 ??  ?? Reigning Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi will crown the winner.
Reigning Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi will crown the winner.

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