The 2019 Miss Universe Pageant was definitely groundbreaking. Outside of being filmed at the newly erected Tyler Perry Studios, the pageant made history by not only hosting it’s first openly gay contestant, but also crowning it’s first South African winner.
On Sunday (Dec. 8), the world tuned in as this year’s winner, Ms. Zozibini Tunzi, a 26-year-old South African public relations professional and activist fighting against gender-based violence, took the top prize rocking her short, natural, Afro-textured tresses.
Tunzi, an advocate for natural beauty, told BBC in an interview that growing up without representation of women who looked like her and with hair like hers is what started her fight to change the euro standard of beauty.
”I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful,” Zozibini Tunzi said. “I think that it is time that that stops today.”
During the event, the newly crowned queen showcased both beauty and brains as she answered the questions throughout the competition fearlessly and managed to stay focus on topics relevant to women of color in 2019. One answer in particular that left the crowd in an awe-inspired standing ovation, was her response to what she felt young women needed to be taught to be successful—leadership.
“It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be,” Tunzi said. “I think we are the most powerful beings on the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space.”
After taking home the title, Zozibini Tunzi took to her Instagram account to expound on what winning means to her and young women who look just like her, stating that she hopes the win inspires other to keep dreaming and aspiring for greatness.
“Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine. I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!”
Revisit the historic moment below.