Cape Town - This year's Miss South Africa pageant will not only feature a star-studded line up on stage, it also boasts an all-female judging panel – and each lady is recognisable internationally and locally.
Local radio darling and a self-proclaimed beauty pageant fanatic Anele Mdoda will also be taking to the judging panel. She was previously a judge in 2013. Actress and businesswoman Connie Ferguson will also be joining the panel for the first time, as well as renowned model, activist and lawyer Thando Hopa.
With this year’s overall theme of empowering women, the all-female judging line-up includes a bunch of respected and influential personalities.
Demi-Leigh is delighted to be on the other side of the Miss SA stage for the first time.
"This is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. What better way to celebrate Women’s Day than on home soil!" she gushes.
"I have been in these ladies' shoes. I understand what they are experiencing, and I can relate to them in every aspect of the competition. I also know how much effort I put in as a competitor and how much dedication it takes to win, not only a national title, but the most sought-after international title."
She believes her experience as an international model and judging multiple titles will be of value to this year’s competition.
We caught up with some of the judges to find out what their advice is to the Top 16.
"My message to the Top 16 is simple. Be genuine and be real! When you speak, speak from the heart. When you smile, smile with everything in you. In the words of Shonda Rhimes 'You can waste your life drawing lines, or you can live your life crossing them'. I am so proud of each one of these contestants and applaud them for chasing their dream. By doing so they are already an inspiration and motivation."
"Another 16 ladies to join this industry, more actresses, presenters, radio presenters, models, businesswomen and dream chasers. Why not? And my advice for these 16 is to be disciplined. All is at your disposal, now in abundance. But do not self-sabotage, you deserve all you have imagined for yourself so focus!"
"Appreciate the strength of your personal journey and have the courage to be authentic and show up with your truth emanating from your core. Because this competition measures many things but one thing it will never dare measure is your self-worth, so whatever your truth is, never be afraid of thinking it – out loud."
"I’m not familiar with any of the entrants so I will definitely be impartial. I also understand the extreme pressure the girls will be under, so my approach would be not to intimidate them, but rather give them the opportunity to represent themselves in the best way possible. As to what I will be looking for in a potential Miss South Africa: Someone who is beautiful from the inside out, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, is personable, healthy and loves life! A great communicator seeing as should they win; they would not only represent themselves but South Africa as a whole. Someone who understands the history of South Africa and appreciates and understands the diversity of our nation."
"Find your purpose in why you're competing. Only one woman will realise the dream of representing her country so this journey should be about more than the crown - whether it be a chance to develop confidence, gain experience, pursue a career or advocate for a purpose. Embody everything that makes you proud to be a woman. Celebrate yourselves. Celebrate each other. Remember the journey never ends here, it only begins."
This year members of the public can vote for their favourite contestant on the Miss South Africa website - www.misssa.co.za. The winner of the People’s Choice will automatically make it to the Top 10 on pageant night.
The Miss South Africa pageant spectacular takes place on this Friday on Women’s Day, at Sun International’s flagship venue, the SunArena at Time Square, Pretoria. It will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161).