“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,” Miss South Africa said in her last response. “I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
After wowing judges with her stage presence, winning smile, and eloquence, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa emerged victorious today after rounds of questions on social issues, evening gowns, and swimsuits. Miss Puerto Rico placed first, and Miss Mexico, second. Zozibini is the third South African to win the title, following in the footsteps of Margaret Gardiner (Miss Universe 1978) and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (Miss Universe 2017).
Miss Universe 2019 is Zozibini Tunzi, Miss South Africa
Another Steve Harvey mix-up
This year, the prestigious Miss Universe pageant was held at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Still hosted by entertainer Steve Harvey, the pageant had another oopsie, and this time, it still involves the Philippines. Shortly after coming up on stage in his teal blazer, he said, “I’m hosting again. Fifth time. Can you believe it? I can’t. Y’all never really did let go of that Miss Colombia thing. . . . I survived it all. When you fall, get up. Colombia has gotten over that too. They’ve forgiven me. Well, not all of them. The cartel is still trippin’ a little bit.”
However, after showing a photo of Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados in her national costume and declaring her the winner, Harvey then said, “This is it right here,” and introduced the contestant beside him, Miss Malaysia, who was very clearly in a different outfit than the one that was just shown on screen.
“It’s not Philippines, it’s Malaysia,” Miss Malaysia Shweta Sekhon said firmly.
Later in the show, when Harvey named Miss Colombia as a top 20 semi-finalist, Gabriela Tafur Náder had some fun at Harvey’s expense and asked him if he was sure he’d read the results correctly.
Miss PH wins national costume award
Cebuana Gazini Ganados did not make it to the top 10, but her eagle-inspired national costume bagged the national costume award. Designed by Cary Santiago, the costume took their team of 30 people working 12 hours a day for 45 days to finish.
While initially it was reported that host Steve Harvey had made an error, according to the pageant’s official Twitter account, the judgement he made was correct.
Harvey had announced the winner to be the Philippines, but instead, the person he interviewed was Miss Malaysia. Hours after the mix-up, the social media accounts of Miss Universe posted a photo of Gazini, saying she is the real winner of the national costume competition.
“@IAmSteveHarvey had it right: Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados is the winner of the Miss Universe 2019 national costume competition! Congratulations, Gazini,” read the post on the pageant’s Twitter page.
In a press statement, the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) reiterated that Harvey did not make any mistake in announcing Ganados as best in national costume. “Mr. Harvey made a joke out of it, but no mistakes regarding the national costume winner were made by him, the prompter, or production,” it said.
In an interview after the pageant, Ganados was surprised to hear that she won the award. “Thank you so much! Oh my gosh, I’m so proud of Mommy Cary,” she said, adding that Santiago “deserves it.”
Zozibini Tunzi is Miss Universe 2019
Twenty-six-year-old Zozibini Tunzi hails from Tsolo, Eastern Cape, and was raised in the village of Sidwadweni. A year after getting into pageants in 2017, she earned her degree in public relations and image management.
According to her Miss Universe profile, 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,” reads her biography.
After winning the crown, she noticed the conversation she sparked about beauty and colorism in South Africa. “I guess they’ve been programmed to not see that black as being beautiful and so the blacker you are, the farther away you are from beauty,” said Zozibini in an August 2019 interview with SABC. “In order to fix that, we have to teach people how to love themselves.”
When asked what the most important thing we need to be teaching young girls today, Tunzi told host Steve Harvey, “I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It is something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a long time. Not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. That is what we should be teaching these young girls. To take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”
As Miss Universe, Tunzi will reside in New York City with Miss USA 2019, and will take part in a number of events and appearances throughout the world.
Catriona Gray’s final walk
Our very own Catriona Gray walked for the last time on the Miss Universe runway in her show-stopping “Reflection” gown designed by Mak Tumang. According to the designer, the sparkling ocean-colored gown was inspired by “the vision of the Philippine eagle flying over the flawless turquoise seas embracing our archipelago.”
Catriona also wore a wristlet with three stars and sun motif, resembling the Philippine flag and the iconic ear cuff she wore at last year’s Miss Universe pageant.
As she waved to her devoted supporters, Catriona said in a prerecorded message, “I’ve always believed that as women, we have the power to redefine our generation. When we raise our voices together, the words ‘woman power’ become more than just a phrase. They become a movement. I wanted my year to be a reign with purpose. From advocating for quality education for all to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, I strive to use my voice for good.
“Thank you to Mom and Dad for always believing in me, to Paula and Esther for your mentorship, the Miss Universe organization, and to Team Catriona. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And to my beloved Philippines, isang karangalan po ito. You endlessly inspire me and give me hope. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Above all, thank you God. I lift everything up to glorify and honor you.
“As I close this chapter, I do so with a grateful heart. To everyone with a dream, know that your dreams are valid, and on your path you are never denied, and only redirected.”Miss Universe 2019 Major Highlights: Another Mix-Up, PH Wins National Costume Award by George