Q&A: Miss SA Lalela Mswane - 'We need to stop playing small and shrinking ourselves to fit in'

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Lalela Mswane
Lalela Mswane
Photo: Gallo Images
  • Lalela Mswane was crowned Miss South Africa 2021 on Saturday at Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town.
  • The 24-year-old, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, is model and dancer and holds a Bachelor of Law qualification from the University of Pretoria.
  • In a Q&A with Channel24, Lalela talks about the reason she entered Miss South Africa and what she hopes to achieve during her reign.

Lalela Mswane was crowned Miss South Africa 2021 on Saturday at Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town.

The 24-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal receives a R4 million prize package, which includes R1 million in cash, the use of a fully-furnished apartment at Central Square Sandton, and a Mercedes Benz C-Class Sedan for the year of her reign.

In a Q&A with Channel24, we learn more about the country's new Miss South Africa and her hopes for the year as she executes her reign.


Tell us about your biggest disappointment and how you bounced back from it.

Being rejected by clients in the modelling industry. Patience and a mentality shift aided my bounce back. Rejection helped mould the resolute lady I am today, and my indomitable will to succeed is fortified each time I'm told "no". 

What do you think is the biggest problem facing young people today?

Young people suffer the greatest self-esteem and body-image issues today more than ever. They constantly subject themselves to comparison and always feel like they fall short of societal standards of beauty. This, I believe is among the leading causes of bullying and depression in a lot of young people. 

Who are your role models?

My mother is my greatest role model. She is the greatest giver of love, patience, kindness, affection and support. She never fails to extend grace even when she experiences injustice. With exceptional resilience, strength and profound wisdom, if I could be only half the woman she is, I would truly be one great woman. I also find inspiration in the late actress, Audrey Hepburn. She was a classic beauty and style icon, and always radiated effortless elegance yet what made her the most beautiful was her philanthropy. 

Tell us a bit more about your family?

My father passed away in 2010, leaving behind my mother, my siblings and me. I am the last born of three. My sister, Hlobisile (37), holds a BCom Honours in Business Management but is employed in the training and occupational assessments field. My brother Mavela (35) opted to go the electrical engineering route. My mom, Hleliselwe, was an accounts clerk and after years in the labour force decided to assume the great responsibility of being a homemaker.

What do you do in your spare time?

If I'm not reading, you'll find me changing my nail colour or organising my clothing cupboards.

What is your single biggest achievement?

Obtaining my Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pretoria in minimum time.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?

My message is twofold. Firstly, there is strength in unity. So much greatness can be achieved when we unite as women in support of each other. Another female's success should inspire you and show you that it is possible, even for you. Let us be a generation that exemplifies the notion "empowered women, empower women". Secondly, women possess everything within them to achieve anything. Our greatness is innate. We need to stop playing small and shrinking ourselves to fit in.

What is one thing you would like to change about South Africa?

The shortage of employment opportunities is so disheartening, particularly in a nation so full of talented and educated people. Our nation lacks the infrastructure to nurture talent and provide platforms conducive to the creation of employment. Consequently, so many South Africans with the best of ideas and talent resort to immigrating to countries where employment opportunities are plenty. That is something I would like to change.

What is the No 1 piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I would tell myself to be gentle with myself, get rid of the idea that I must be perfect and look and act a certain way to be accepted. To let go, let God and simply live trusting that everything will be okay, and if it's not okay, it's not the end.


- PHOTOS | Miss South Africa 2021 red carpet arrivals

- Miss SA 2021 | 7 photos from Lalela Mswane's crowning moment

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