Ex Miss SAs join pageant judging panel to select top 30 semi-finalists

Newly engaged Liesl Laurie will return to judge and shortlist this year’s Miss SA top 30 semifinalists.

The former Miss SA (2015) will be part of the judging panel fresh off fiancé and TV star Musa Mthombeni popping the question on Sunday.

Joining Laurie will be another former Miss SA titleholder Bokang Montjane-Tshabalala (2010). They both judged last year.

Melinda Bam (Miss SA 2011) and Tamaryn Green (Miss SA 2018) will make their debut as judges for the coveted pageant.

“I have been there and sat in the chair and I know how extremely nervous one can get,” Laurie said.

“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.”

Entries for this year’s Miss SA closed last week Thursday and the top 30 that have advanced to the next round will be announced next Tuesday.

For a third consecutive year, trans women were eligible to enter the pageant.

“Since we took over the competition, our goal has been to be more inclusive and embracing of all members of society. The world is finally opening up to the changing beauty standards and understanding that beauty is not a one size fits all,” said Stephanie Weil, CEO of the Miss SA Organisation.

“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.”

So what advice should the shortlisted candidates keep in mind during their interview process?

“Be yourself, be genuine, be honest and bring your A-game,” Montjane-Tshabalala advised.

“When I entered 11 years ago, we were not allowed to compete with our natural hair as society standards didn’t appreciate African beauty,” Montjane-Tshabalala said

“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.”

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