The kingmaker behind the queens
Werner Wessels does what horse whisperers do - only his magic lies in pageants.
Werner has turned many ordinaries into universal queens.
He has mentored a few Miss SA contestants and seen them through to victory. His skills ultimately landed him a job as the official creative consultant of the pageant.
The 29-year-old first became involved in Miss South Africa because of Melinda Bam who took the crown in 2011.
"We went to high school together and have been close friends ever since. We always had this dream of her competing for Miss SA. When we decided it was time for her to enter, we would go shopping together. Because I had such a keen interest in pageants and have followed them closely, I started giving her some advice . I then assisted Rolene Strauss and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters before being employed as a creative consultant to Miss SA this year," says Wessels.
But it was never his life plan.
"It was never my intention to become this person that would just create Miss South Africas. I just always met these women and I saw something very special in them and wanted to help them. I saw their hearts and heard their stories about what they could contribute to our country. . I think it was God's way of putting them on my path to help them become the best versions of themselves."
His love for the industry came from watching the show on TV as a child. "I remember watching the Miss South Africa pageant ever since I was three years old when Jacqui Mofokeng won in 1993. I just loved watching these wonderful women on stage."
He never realised his friendship with Bam would lead him on this path - but admits it was a journey destined for both.
After Bam he helped Strauss who went on to win Miss World and Nel-Peters who he coached all the way through to winning the Miss Universe title last year. His tricks also saw the likes of Liesl Laurie, Ntando Kunene and Marilyn Ramos win. But what is it he does exactly?
"International pageants are mostly a mental game. Here, everyone has already won so the standard is incredibly high; . I help them get into the best mental and physical shape of their lives... When it comes to clothing, they need to. stand out from the others and establish their unique brands. When it comes to pageantry, I consider myself more of a trainer/coach. In my everyday career, I am a stylist."
He now works with all the contestants and says it's that more difficult yet fulfilling.
"You have to empower each of the finalists to be the best they can be and to highlight what makes them special."
But he won't reveal who will grab the crown in Pretoria's Sun Arena tonight. "Does a father have a favourite child? Each of the 12 can win the Miss South Africa 2018 title. They each bring something unique to the contest. . I am so proud of them. . they feel like family to me." After the competition he will help prepare two contestants - one will go to Miss World and the other to Miss Universe. "I think you must have confidence and self-belief. You also must have an amazing work ethic to win any pageant. For any young woman making the Top 12 it can change their life. . With all the chaos and ugliness going on the world, it is important that we have these role models that can show ... how they can be fit and healthy and celebrate their beauty while giving to others.
Miss SA pageant will be aired live on M-Net and Mzansi Magic at 5pm