Dress drama, dancing, and 1 month in China – Can Thulisa Keyi bring home the Miss World crown?

Thulisa Keyi (Photo: Gallo)
Thulisa Keyi (Photo: Gallo)

Johannesburg – On 8 December 2018, beauty queens from around the world will take to the stage for the 68th annual Miss World competition. 

Taking place in China for the second year in a row, contestants will spend an entire month prepping for the big night. A task which former Miss South Africa Adé van Heerden says she found challenging at times, having taken part in the competition herself in 2017.  

Speaking at the official send-off for Miss World South Africa 2018 Thulisa Keyi on Thursday, Adé described what it was like packing up and moving to East Asia for a month.                       

"China is probably, in terms of culture, completely different to South Africa," she said, jokingly advising that Thulisa have a few protein bars available as the local cuisine may take some getting used to.  

One month may seem like a long time for a pageant, but Adé believes it makes the job of the judges a little easier at the end, giving them enough time to see the girls for who they truly are. "Because you cannot ‘fake it’ for a month. You cannot fake it when they put you on a flight at 03:00 or they tell you that you’re going to be rehearsing until midnight. So I think it’s that long for a purpose," she adds.  

And if you’re wondering exactly what kind of girl it is that the Miss World Organisation is looking for, Adé shared an endearing anecdote about a moment she had with the reigning Miss World, Manushi Chhillar, at the pageant in 2017.  

The star explained how she had ripped her pageant dress, as well as her backup outfit, just hours before the show. Loud gasps were heard around the room as she continued the story of how Manushi came to her rescue.  

"I was just kind of sitting backstage. Manushi was also feeling quite ill and she was sitting with me and she said: 'You know Adé, I have nine other dresses that I haven’t worn and we’re on the last day. I know you wanted to wear blue, but you can come and look at any of my dresses.' And she put them all out on her bed. This was three hours before the pageant, and she said: 'Pick whatever you want.'"

"I think it just spoke so much about her character and why she is Miss World now," she went on to say.  

Visibly excited at the prospect of representing her country on the Miss World stage, Thulisa Keyi beamed as she mingled with guests at her farewell. 

The star wore a black velvet dress with a beaded sleeve, designed by Biji Gibbs. The outfit will be worn by Thulisa as part of the "Designers of the World" portion of the competition.  

Speaking to The Juice, Thulisa explained the significance behind the dress.  

"In a world where beauty pageants are all about sparkle and so many busy silhouettes, I wanted to say: 'This is me and this is who I am.' A very simple dress, but also I’m a woman, and I consider myself to be bold, and I wanted to capture that in some way."

Going into detail about her preparations for Miss World, Thulisa said she has been training with Letshego Zulu to keep fit, and has learned choreography from Ryan Hignett which she will use in the talent part of the competition.  

"We’re doing this beautiful dance that is proudly South African, but it’s more about the movement and expression and the feeling behind the dance routine."

Although she could not say much about the outfit she will be wearing for the dance routine, Thulisa says it’s "very simple" and captures movement beautifully.  

When all is said and done, Thulisa says, more than anything, she is looking forward to representing the country as authentically as possible. "I don’t want to go to China and try to be someone else. I want to say: 'This is who I am but I’m open enough to learn about other cultures and other people'. I’m looking forward to making friends, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. And also just the experience, because it is the experience of a lifetime."