A new Miss Universe was crowned earlier today, and she is none other than South Africa's Zozibini Tunzi. The beautiful 26-year-old bested 89 candidates from all over the world. After making it through the Top 20 bracket, Zozibini wowed the panel with her opening statement:
"I got my first book ever from my grandmother who never got an opportunity to get an education. She gave me that book because she had hoped that I would have a future much better than hers. I come from strong women who have fought not only to be recognized as humans, but to be recognized as intelligent and capable leaders. Because of those women I am here today, and it is now my responsibility to inspire others to lead, to be the best, and to stay confident in everything that they do."
She then continued to shine on stage throughout the swimsuit and evening gown competitions. More than her stunning looks, perhaps what truly captivated the hearts of the judges (and millions of viewers) was her wit and authencity. Read her complete answers for the top five and top three rounds here.
Zozibini is the first black woman to be crowned Miss Universe since Angola's Leila Lopes won in 2011. She is also the third woman to earn the title for South Africa. Get to know more about Zozibini, successor to Philippines' Catriona Gray:
1. She grew up in Tsolo, Eastern Cape.
Zozibini was born to parents Philiswa Nadapu and Lungisa Tunzi. She also has two sisters. She was raised in the village of Sidwadweni before moving to Cape Town.
2. She has a degree in public relations.
When she moved to Cape Town, Zozibini began her studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In 2018, she graduated with a degree in public relations and image management. She was also an intern for Ogilvy Cape Town.
3. She joined Miss South Africa twice.
It's interesting to note that Zozibini's pageantry career only began in 2017, when she first competed in Miss South Africa. This first attempt landed her a spot among the Top 26 contestants. Not losing hope, she joined the competition again the following year. As fate would have it, she won the competition and moved on to represent her country at Miss Universe 2019.
4. She's a staunch advocate for women's rights and gender equality.
According to her profile on the official Miss Universe website, Zozibini is "a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender-based violence."
"She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes. She is a proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are."
During her reign as Miss South Africa, Zozibini closely worked with the United Nations organization and HeForShe, a "solidarity movement for gender equality."
In line with her answer during the Top 3 Q&A portion, Zozibini believes that leadership is important in advancing women's rights. As Miss South Africa, she also worked with the LFP Group, a firm that provides skills training and transformation strategies to businesses in South Africa.
5. She weaved love letters for women empowerment into her Miss Universe national costume.
As part of her campaign for HeForShe, Zozibini called for her countrymen to pledge to support women thorugh love letters. "We have to start the narration where right-thinking people act as role models for those who think it’s okay to mistreat women. That’s my aim with my campaign," part of her caption read.
These love letters served as the fabric for her Miss Universe national costume.
6. She stays grounded no matter what.
Zozibini has always attributed her life to amazing women, from her family to her role models. In an Instagram photo she posted last month, Zozibini wore Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters' dress as a nod to the the Miss Universe 2017 winner. She quipped, "Hopefully some of its magic rubbed off on me!?"
7. She has walked in New York Fashion Week.
Just three months before the Miss Universe competition, Zozibini traveled to New York city where she modeled for Maxhosa, a brand by South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo. She strutted in a strapless black and white dress and served as the show's main muse.
8. She prefers brain games over sports.
In an exclusive interview for Telemundo, Zozibini admits that she's not very athletic. "Everyone knows that I'm horrible at sports but no one knows that I am a champion at 30 Seconds, and I challenge anyone to take me on." The 30 Seconds Challenge is a series of mental math challenges, a test of memory and speed.
9. She shares a close relationship with her parents.
In the same Telemundo interview, Zozibini talked about her parents' excitement given her Miss South Africa win: "Ever since I won Miss South Africa, I think my dad thinks he won as well. So, he'll probably be dying thinking he's Miss Universe, too."
Yesterday, she also shared a photo on Instagram, expressing her gratitude to her parents: "I am because you are. You’ve given me life, you’ve raised me to be the woman I am so that I can stand in a far away land proudly knowing where I’m rooted and where I come from," part of the caption read.
10. She chose Miss Vietnam as her personal Miss Universe bet.
Prior to the big event, she also shared with Telemundo that when given the chance to pick the Miss Universe winner, she would choose Vietnam's Nguyen Tran Khanh Van. "I think she is the most kind-hearted person I have met in a very, very long time."