Former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi is back home. The beauty queen, who was based in America for almost two years of her reign, has confirmed that she will be based in Johanesburg, for now, with many exciting projects in the pipeline that will be revealed in due course.
“What I can confirm is that I will continue with my humanitarian work because that is close to my heart,” she says excitedly, also hinting that television work was on the cards.
The 27-year-old handed over the prestigious crown last month to the new Miss Universe, Andrea Meza, who hails from Mexico.
And while that handover represented new beginnings for her, she does admit that it carried with it a lot of mixed emotions.
“I certainly did experience mixed feelings, you know, when crowning the next woman. As you know, the Miss Universe journey has been a part of my life for a year and a half, so the handover literally felt bittersweet.
“Bitter because it was like closing a chapter that I have come to know so intimately, with no time to transition, but instead it had to end and there had to be a disconnect that was certainly a little tricky to deal with.
“But on the other hand, it was equally sweet because I did all that I could while wearing the crown and I am so proud of the work that I did. I obviously could not wait to jump on to the next thing to move on to the next chapter of my life because when you become Miss Universe, you know, it’s a timeline thing and you know it’ll end at some point.”
Describing her current state, she says she is ‘very content and happy”. Upon arriving in Mzansi, Tunzi took some time off to spend with family.
“Looking at myself now, I have truly grown as a person throughout this journey. I have grown a thicker skin because while intersecting with various people, you go through a lot as well.
“As much as I have received overwhelming love globally, that love also came with a lot of scrutiny, which I have had to teach myself how to deal with that aspect without taking it to heart or being offended.
“That all comes from getting to know myself, learning about myself in the past two years especially during the (Covid-19) pandemic. I think that period had us all pause and figure ourselves out more. And that is how I have grown into understanding who exactly I am.”
Tunzi has made history as the longest reigning Miss Universe, clocking 467 days, and she is also the first black South African Miss Universe out of the two others that have been crowned to date.
“My brand stands for women, for change, for women and for equality.
“When people look at me, I want them to see this African black woman who is trying to tell our stories in our own voices. I am proudly African, I am pro-black and those are the things I want people to know about me. That I am for women, I am for Africa.
She does admit that this intentional decision to stand boldly as a true representation of being African, everywhere, was not received well all the time.
“It was a conscious decision. I knew how I wanted to be perceived and what I wanted my name to be associated with, so that people can learn from it. But my blackness was sometimes met with resistance, which is nothing new because we know how people feel about blackness.
“Sometimes I would get comments like: ‘Are you Miss Universe or are you Miss (black) Universe’ or even get questions like: ‘Why do you always have to bring your Africanness, your blackness or your race into it.’ So it was sometimes met with serious resistance, not all the time though.
“Most of the time, things were very positive and people really enjoyed being a part of the conversation. Because when you are Miss Universe, the world is listening and they were learning and were very interested because it was something that they were not used to.”
With the world listening, she hopes to use her influence to incite positive change here in South Africa and around the world.