Zozibini Tunzi and Leila Lopes discuss about ‘Black Women Representation’ and ‘Fan-Hate Online’

02 Aug 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi hosted Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes for a quick live session on 23rd July 2020 where the two strong and powerful women had a discussion on strong women in society, their experiences as Miss Universe and more. Lopes is the 5th woman of African descent to win the title since the beginning of the worldwide pageant and the fourth African woman from the African continent to win the title.

Zozibini greeted Leila with a big broad smile and stated that she must fangirl for a while and Leila stated that it’s not ‘Hello Zozi’, but ‘Hello Queen’. The two women instantly had an energy even when it was a virtual live discussion and Leila stated that she is so proud of South African Miss Universe. Zozi complimented Leila on her win back in 2011 and mentioned that she was 18-years-old when Leila won the title and were doing so many things that she aspired to do. She asked Leila on what was her experience on that stage to which the former queen stated that the crowning moment felt surreal and still does because there were about 86 contestants from all over the world and winning amongst them was very special. Leila also mentioned that in South Africa, the children don’t grow up doing pageants or training for them, they just watch them on television but some people actually grow up aspiring the crown and training so hard for it so, when she was announced as the winner, it felt surreal to her. Zozi also mentioned that Leila’s win meant so much to the young girls in Africa because her win meant that it is possible for a young girl of colour to win the title. Zozi stated that Leila was the point of reference for her whenever she had to talk to her parents about the pageant.

Zozi asked Leila about her experience post her win to which the queen replied that hate online was at it’s peak and it is never easy to deal with it. She stated some the comments she remembered reading, “You should go back to South Africa, you don’t deserve to win, etc.”. She explained that dealing with the hate coming from the pageant fans was tough and there were moments when she thought that she wanted to avoid social media for ever because it was full of hate. She explained that the fans from the powerhouses use to comment really bad things about her winning and she felt like she is just like every other girl who was on that stage to win the crown. Leila explained that keeping the hate aside, working with people and non-profit organizations during the reign was the most essential thing because she was working to change people’s lives. She stated that Miss Universe is not just a title but it is what you do with your title.


Zozibini Tunzi and Leila Lopes discuss about ‘Black Women Representation’ and ‘Fan-Hate Online’


Leila went onto explain that she always felt that she had never been accepted as Miss Universe 2011 because the skin care sponsors, bikini wear sponsors, pageant fans, and hair care sponsors made her feel bad about herself but she kept her calm because she had the support of a strong and powerful organization. She explained that winning the title had opened so many doors and opportunities for her for which she will always be grateful. Zozi explained that she feels blessed that she is a part of Miss Universe Organization as they are very supportive and progressive and seeing strong, empowered people like Leila gave her the courage and confidence to do what she is doing now. The people are accepting but the pageant fans are still the same.

The queens agreed that the fans who belong to the powerhouses of the pageant countries are very irrational when they comment about someone else winning the title but it is also necessary for them to win the title because winning of a black person shouldn’t be a norm anymore. Leila mentioned that when she won the title, she had no one to look up to because the one black woman who won the title before her was 12 years ago and there was no social media’s boom during that time that she would google or go on Facebook and check about her. Former queen stated that now she has Zozi to look at and relate to and she hopes that in future the people would acknowledge the black women on-stage exactly the way they should and only the best woman and potential contestant wins the title but representation of a country or a culture means everything.

The queens spoke about the economic freedom in South Africa and more about how women in general are represented at a beauty pageant in their live session which went for about an hour. They talked about the education system in South Africa and what they believe should change in the country in order to bring more prosperity and empowerment towards the girls.

You can watch the live here:



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