EXCLUSIVE: Jen Su Sat To Chat With Miss World SA, Sasha-Lee Olivier

Jen: We’re with Miss World South Africa Sasha-Lee, and you are gorgeous!
It’s great to have you in London, and I see it’s actually your first time travelling outside of South Africa! 

Sasha-Lee: It is so exciting and you know, I’m someone who loves architecture — and London is such a beautiful city.  Staying just outside Tower Bridge and the River Thames — it can’t get any better than that!

miss sa world
Miss World South Africa Sasha-Lee Olivier by Neil Elliott in London

Tell me about some of the activities you’ve been doing since you’ve been here. 

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Well, we’ve been here (just under a week now), and today was our first day of rehearsals. I got to practice my gumboot dance, which was awesome and which is traditional and especially personal to me. I was just taking it all in, and I’m so happy to be here.

Any clues about your outfit? Or is that still a secret (laughs)?

What I’d like to do is to be there on the day and just surprise everyone — and just take that moment in with everyone else for the final dress … but I am performing gumboot dancing (the South African gumboot dance performed wearing wellington boots) — so the overall look with the gumboots should be interesting!

Wow, how long have you been practicing gumboot dancing?

For a week! I used to be a dancer when I was younger, so it was pretty easy for me to (perform) it, but I’m not gonna say it wasn’t hard either! It’s quite challenging, and it’s something that’s very unique.

Sasha-Lee Olivier and Jen Su.  Photo: Neil Elliott

You’ve been very involved with your campaign, “Beauty with a Purpose.” Tell us more about that campaign and the inspiration behind it. 

One would say it stems from what I survived growing up. In essence, to be here, one needs empathy and that means we have to see to and have compassion, with the issues that a lot of other people are going through as well. It stems from the fact that I understand that this is very much a process, involving victims of rape and sexual assault within South Africa, and this is (also) something that actually transcends borders. My purpose in #ItsNotYourFault was to bring comfort to those who are survivors. I’m so grateful that I have the whole of South Africa championing this cause, because we’ve seen how, for example, with the (Rugby) World Cup, we are so much stronger together, and this campaign is definitely something that we (as a nation) need to collaborate on. I’m so happy to be a part of this “Beauty with a Purpose” campaign – it is part of a legacy that is so far reaching and deeply meaningful.

We have so many highlights to celebrate, with South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup, and with the pageants we’ve also done very well — our former Miss SA Rolene Strauss winning Miss World (2014) – the third South African woman to be crowned Miss World after Penelope Anne Coelen in 1958 and Anneline Kriel in 1974 – as well as our former Miss SA Demi-Leigh Nel Peters, winning Miss Universe in 2017.  With all of that inspiration — what advice from them will you be taking, going into the Miss World competition?

I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have sat with Rolene (Strauss, former Miss World) about two weeks ago, and she said to me, “Sasha, ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ has been the center and core of everything that you do, so just stick with that and be true to who you are.” So I’m taking her advice to heart.  I’m staying true to who I am, and I’m grateful to be here and have this platform and incredible opportunity to give back.

Tell me how you’ve been mentally preparing for the Miss World Pageant.

You know, there’s no (specific) template as to how one can prepare – but a combination of inspirational life lessons and everything you take from that, is something that guides me going forward.  I have to recommit to my story, who I am and what I stand for, every day – because I’m in a position where it’s not just about me, it’s about the women and men who I represent. The highlight of being here (at Miss World) has been getting to meet so many interesting and inspiring people, and just having the opportunity to mix with all these different cultures – is an experience of a lifetime.

The Miss World Pageant will be held 14 December at ExCel London. 120 countries are involved in this year’s competition.  https://www.missworld.com

 

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