Miss SA has soft spot to help the less fortunate

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

The road for international beauty queens and models is one often fraught with danger and temptation.

Drugs, booze, eating disorders and an obscene amount of money are often just a few of the vices attached to this glitzy and glamorous world.

Just look at British ramp queen Kate Moss.

Picked from obscurity at just 15 years of age to join the jet-setting world of international models, Moss's life has been one of a troubled soul.

Run-ins with the law, a desperate battle with booze and drugs and a love life that has played itself out in the British tabloids, has left her looking a shadow of her former self and one desperately unhappy.

Super model Naomi Campbell is another. Relationship and emotional problems have dogged her career and trouble has never been far from her corner.

Fortunately, not all have fallen for the trappings of this fickle industry.

For local beauty, model and current Miss South Africa Megan Coleman, it has been a long journey from the leafy, tranquil town of Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal to rubbing shoulders with presidents, singing superstars and sporting legends.

The advantage of growing up in a close-knit family shines through with Coleman.

"When my sister left for England five years ago I became very close to my parents. I still miss my sister but we talk on the phone often and I can't wait for her to visit in December."

All too often these days you hear and see celebrities of sorts paying lip-service to this and that charity but with Coleman one gets the feeling she is sincere in what she says and does.

On two previous occasions I have observed her at community functions and seen the loving, caring disposition to those less fortunate than herself.

Critics will argue it is a beauty queen's role . they do it for the cameras, and so on. But even when the cameras are switched off Coleman remains the same. A caring individual.

"I know it sounds clichéd, but one of the highlights of my year as Miss SA has been my work with Tapologo Aids Hospice just outside Rustenburg.

"You cannot go there and not go back . it sticks in your heart and is a place you become attached to."

And other highlights during her reign?

"There have been so many. Those that stick out are the obvious ones like meeting former president Nelson Mandela and current President Thabo Mbeki.

"I met Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation and it was awesome - you can't really put into words what it is like to meet a man like that. It felt like I was meeting family. He is just so humble. He treats you like a human being . acts like a human being.

"Also going to the Miss Universe contest in Mexico is right up there. It was very challenging because you are up against 78 girls from around the world.

"You learn a lot about yourself when you are away from home for five weeks."

Although she didn't come anywhere near winning, she was happy with the way things went.

"There was a lot of pressure on me because South Africa hasn't done well in a long time in an international contest. But I'm fine with how it went."

After matriculating from Hillcrest High, Durban, Coleman went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in media communications and marketing.

Whether she gets to use her degree remains to be seen.

"I can't see myself going back to Durban any time soon. In terms of my career it makes sense to stay in Johannesburg and see how it goes."

Outside of the world of glamour Coleman likes nothing better than to pull on her Sharks supporters jersey and head off to Absa Park Stadium in Durban and catch a rugby match.

"I'm a die-hard Sharks fan. My whole family loves rugby and I'm looking forward to us doing well in the World Cup."

When Coleman hands over her crown on December 8 to the 51st Miss SA, it will be with mixed emotions.

"Being Miss SA is hard work. It is a fulltime job. It's not all glamour like people think it is. At times it is lonely as you are often by yourself."

lTo view a video of the interview log on to www.sowetan.co.za