Although Zandile Masia wears the Miss Teen Universe South Africa 2021 crown with pride, for her, choosing between pretty or being smart was never an option. ‘Surely I can be both,’ she insists. Here she speaks to Get It – before winging off to the Teen Universe pageant…
Zandile’s recipe for success is simple… a close-knit, supportive family, which consists of her mother and stepfather, a twin brother, and a younger sister. She describes her ‘momager’ as ‘sweet, caring, the anchor of our house, and the driving force of our family. She’s also my number one fan’, while her stepfather ‘is our cornerstone, very flexible and jolly. He has learned to become a pageant dad over the years and enjoys it.’ Zandile also speaks about her biological father, with whom she has a close relationship. “He has always been supportive of me, and will always be.’
Zandile’s modeling career began five years ago when she enrolled at Ace Models in Bloemfontein. ‘I went to Ace Models knowing that I wanted to be a model, but not knowing that it wasn’t easy.’ She recounts how she did not win her first pageant in 2016. “It’s not easy to handle a loss when you thought you were the best in the competition. I went back to the drawing board and realised that with pageantry you don’t win or lose, you either win or learn. From that day onward, I never lost a pageant. I entered and won all the local and national pageants I entered.’
In May 2020, she won the big one – the Teen Universe South Africa 2021 crown. Teen Universe South Africa is the preliminary round for the international Teen Universe. ‘I’ll be representing South Africa at the tenth anniversary of Teen Universe this month. After being crowned as Teen Universe South Africa, I knew that the international stage was calling my name. The Teen Universe title will mean a lot for my country and me. The moment I walk on that international stage I won’t be known as Zandile Masia, but as South Africa – it gives me great joy to know that I’ll be wearing South Africa on my chest.’ Apart from her modelling and pageantry work, Zandile is studying Brand and Marketing Management at Vega School in Cape Town. ‘The most important thing for me in life is to have financial security and independency, and to live a life I won’t need a break from. I want to be able to provide for myself and for my family.’
Zandile is also a firm believer in bringing hope to other people. ‘I run a project where I collect secondhand clothes from friends and family and donate them to the needy. I’ve clothed 2900 people in secondhand clothes this year.’ Although she makes it sound easy to juggle her diverse roles, she says that the most challenging part of her daily life is ‘to keep up with the expectations of others, as they sometimes forget that I’m also human. Plus, I have no privacy.’ On the other hand, she relishes meeting new people, engaging with inspirational women, and building healthy relationships.
When asked about what she would like to see more of in the beauty industry, she answers ‘diversity’. ‘We should have a body that monitors the proper representation of communities who lack representation in the media. All those who are forgotten and not catered for should be acknowledged and be given a chance to showcase their talents.’ Zandile would also like to see models and aspiring beauty queens being empowered on how to handle different situations, including how to handle winning or losing a beauty pageant.
With so many hours of her week spent working, who is Zandile when she is at home and away from the scrutiny of being picture perfect? ‘When I’m not a beauty queen, I’m just a normal girl. I spend most of my time indoors. I’m also a clothing designer, so I spend a lot of time behind my sewing machine. I love spending time with family. I don’t have many friends and I spend most of the time with my mom. She’s my best friend and my partner in crime when it comes to shopping.’