Name: Liesl Laurie
Region: Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, Gauteng.
Occupation: I graduated with a B.Com General Degree from the University of Johannesburg (Soweto Campus) in April this year. After graduating, I decided to take the rest of the year off from university to pursue a full time career in modelling and also to embark on my journey of giving back to my community and my country. I have been working with a number of Non-Profit Organisations that include Babies Behind Bars and Pilgrim Oasis Community Children’s Outreach in Eldorado Park and adjacent informal settlement in Kliptown. In June I launched my own NPO The Pearl Project, which aims to create a beacon of hope club through motivational and educational workshops for young girls and is held at various schools in my community. I believe that being a blessing to others has truly enriched my life.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won: Miss Soweto 2010 (Second Princess), Miss Personality and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2014 (Second Princess).
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? As a little girl I would watch the Miss South Africa pageant and tell myself that one day I would be taking part. I dreamt that I would wear those shiny dresses, strutting my stuff down the runway with that amazing sparkle in my eye and my heart bursting with joy and excitement. I believe everything I am, every obstacle I have faced, and everything I have achieved, has led me to this point. Being Miss South Africa will allow me to reach out to more young people than I am currently able to do. I want to motivate them to rise to the challenge of building a better and brighter future as South Africans.
Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Bokang Montjane. She was born and raised in a village called Ga-Mphahlele in Limpopo and won the prestigious title, showing that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but what matters is where you are going. I am from a community in the south of Johannesburg that is known to be poverty stricken and troubled, but I believe that I have what it takes to become a beacon of hope for my community. I believe, too, that small town girls have what it takes to become an ambassador for their country.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My role model is my grandmother. Growing up with her has made me the confident young woman I am today. She has inspired me to be the best possible version of myself by teaching me to believe in myself, to remain humble and to pray.My mother has inspired me by overcoming her drug addiction. She has faced many obstacles throughout her life and watching her go through these obstacles has taught me that it doesn’t matter how far down you fall… you can always get up, dust yourself off and start building again. I salute her!
Tell us a bit more about your family: I grew up with my grandmother, mother and younger sister. My grandmother is my favourite person in the world and I thank God for the blessing I have had to constantly be around her throughout my life. She is the wisest and most selfless person I know. She is a 67-year- old retired teacher and the founder of POCCO. I have a younger sister, Micheala, who will be finishing primary school and starts her schooling career at the National School of Arts, majoring in drama studies. My mother, Karen, is a high school teacher and the silliest, most fun-loving person I know. When the two of us are together there is always laughter and joy around.
What do you do in your spare time? I love spending time with my family and friends, playing board games. I am the champion at the games Rummikub and 30 Seconds. When I am with my four best friends we enjoy going on road trips and visiting different holiday destinations. When I have a few free hours to spare, my favourite thing to do is to go out to the mall with my girls. I dance to stay fit and belong to a spiritual dance group at my church.I also enjoy curling up with a good book, watching a romantic comedy or an action movie, depending on my mood. Some of the other activities I love doing are baking, cooking, singing, and swimming.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? It’s not where you come from but where you are going and never let any situation or encounter define who you are. You are more than your struggle and more than your tragedy. You can be and do anything if you believe in yourself. Don’t ever lose the little girl you are or once were as you grow up. Dreaming makes life beautiful and one day fulfilling your dreams will make life worth it. Finally, never forget to thank God for your blessings. Believe in yourself. Be yourself!
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would have loved to have met Nelson Mandela and thank him for everything he has done for this beautiful country I am blessed to call home. Meeting Charlize Theron would also be an honour. She has been one of the women who has carried the South African flag high by becoming the first South African to win an Academy Award. The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project inspired me to start my own NPO.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? That I really am 23 years old instead of 16. Most people are astonished when I tell them how old I am. I look much younger and that’s a blessing that will come in handy in the next 15years.
What are you reading? I have just finished reading The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I read it as research for The Pearl Project. I love borrowing books from the library instead of buying them. Visiting the library makes the experience of reading more exciting.
What is on your iPod? I recently added the new Chris Brown album. I love RnB and Pop music but my playlist consists of a little bit of every genre, even reggae. I have to start my day with my favourite song: William McDowell featuring Blanca – Closer (Wrap Me in Your Arms).
Your favourite TV show? I do not spend a lot of time watching television but my favourite series is Suits (I have the biggest crush on the character Harvey Specter).
Your favourite meal? I absolutely love sushi and prawns and I cannot pass a Cinnabon store without having a little cinnamon bun.
Anything else you would like to add? My motto is: I will never fit in because I was born to stand out!