Miss South Africa 2019 Sasha-Lee Laurel Olivier shares with us how she aims to use her reign to mobilise her #Itsnotyourfault campaign.
Congratulations on being crowned Miss South Africa, how does it feel to represent the country?
It is definitely and honour and a privilege to represent a country that is diverse and rich in culture. And as we all have been saying for the past few months, what a time to be South African! But what I am more excited about is the opportunity I now have to have the conversations that we, as a nation, have neglected to; issues surrounding gender-based violence and the aftermath of trauma, through my #Itsnotyourfault campaign.
Apart from your #Itsnotyourfault campaign, what other causes do you wish to implement during your reign?
Given the current crisis that we are in, I feel it’s imperative that my sole focus beyond my campaign, I feel as a Miss South Africa I would lend my voice to a multitude of causes, but my primarily my focus will be mainly #Itsnotyourfault campaign.
Who do you dream would invite you to dinner, and what questions would you ask them?
I would definitely love to have dinner with Vusi Thembekwayo. I have always said that I am the product of the conversations that resonate with me the most; and I think there is so much I have learned from him. Also, he is so inspirational in terms of what he does.
READ MORE: An Inspirational Note From Vusi Thembekwayo
Share at least three things you are grateful for in your life?
Firstly, I am grateful for the lessons, the failures and the challenges, although at the time I wasn’t welcome to it. But looking back, I am grateful for the challenges because they are the reason that I am here, and that I got this opportunity right now. Secondly, the support not only from the sponsors we have at the Miss SA organization, but that of South Africa, which means so much to me. And lastly, I am grateful for a new day, a new beginning and a new chance to start again. The outlook I now have in life is I walk into this year not with these goals but with intention, which is to be consistent and to lend a voice to those who haven’t found theirs as yet.
How would you define beauty and when or what experience made you embrace your beauty?
In terms of my opinion on what beauty is, no one has the right to define what beauty is. For me, beauty is sometimes this unattainable construct created by a subjective society because it’s all about what we perceive, which is subjective. Beauty, for me, is what you put out into the world. It’s something that is exterior to you in that sense. And how I got to a place where I embrace my beauty was that I had to understand that it’s a daily decision. I had to get to a place where I had to love myself right now, and not when my body was a certain weight or way.
What would you like to be remember for as Miss SA?
A legacy is something that is far reaching and meaningful. You can’t really quantify it because it’s evident in every single life that you touch. But what I would like to be remembered for the idea that nothing is impossible and that your darkest moments can give birth to the greatest moments of your life. And I feel that I am a living testimony to that.
Lastly, what is your message of hope to young people?
That dream that you have in your mind right now, it’s possible. I think everybody looks outside their self to find their purpose and I think it’s on you to understand that your purpose is within you and you bring that out. So, there is so much hope in that because there is an opportunity for you now to leverage whatever it is that you know and create that opportunity for yourself. Others might not see that for you, but as long as you see that for yourself, that’s all that counts.
MISS WORLD SOUTH AFRICA SASHA-LEE LAUREL OLIVIER LAUNCHES HER CAMPAIGN
Miss world South Africa recently launched her beauty with a purpose campaign called It’s not your fault, she chats to us about it and her success tips:
Congratulations on going to represent South Africa at the Miss World pageant in December, why did you enter Miss South Africa?
I entered Miss South Africa because there was a cause close to my heart that I really knew I was critical in making a difference in. From a very young age I knew that, somehow, standing up for these women or men was a part my purpose and it was definitely one of the reasons I entered the competition.
Was modelling something you wanted to pursue growing up? Why/ why not?
Modelling was something I wanted to pursue while I was growing up. My mom said I was a kid who loved being in front of the camera and dressing up. It’s just the market at that time modelling wasn’t as conducive to our progression as curvaceous models, which is something we are now considered as. It was something I wanted to do, but it was a matter of how the market reacted.
Before joining the pageant, describe how life was, where did you work and what else, outside the office kept you busy?
I was a student at Wits University, pursuing a double major in marketing and psychology. I had completed my third year in Bcom marketing management at the University of Johannesburg. I spent most of my time trying to pursue a professional career in modelling. I was also involved in my non-profit company, The Blue Jersey Foundation, where we hosted quite a few events throughout South Africa and Swaziland.
Your beauty with a purpose campaign #ItsNotYourFault is a profound one as many women and men live with the scar and trauma of sexual assault, how do you plan of helping alleviate this global social scourge through your platform?
The first step in this is the most critical, which is speaking out and it’s something that I had to remind myself quite a bit and something that survivors struggle with. So I think its very much as necessity to get to a place where we break the chains of silence, shame and fear. But we do so and understand that there would be a degree of difficulty because it’s the first step of healing. So for me, the first stepping in trying to alleviate this issue is getting people to speak out and own their story.
To someone who has gone through this experience, what, from your own experience, is your message to them?
Healing is something that you have to decide to do periodically. It’s not something that is clear cut. It doesn’t happen and then it ends. You will get triggered in some way, and that’s the unfortunate nature of how this is. But what I can say is that you will learn to live with it, that there is hope and that things will get better if you give it some time and consciously make that effort towards speaking up and owning your story; because the large part of the shame is from the silence.
Where do you mainly distribute the Rape Comfort Packs and how do you plan on reaching each corner of the country?
In terms of the logistics of everything, it’s something that is isn’t really set out in stone, given the nature of the product and the fact that it’s new. We are actually distributing in current hot spots, such as Alex, Diepsloot and Cape Town. But this is something that we have to work on given everyone’s response to it. If the response is great than we’ll make the means to get it where it needs to go, such as clinics and hospitals that run the medical rape kits because that would be when they would need our care pack.
Should you win the Miss World title, what plans or other projects do you aim to work on?
My aim is to work with this crisis in particular. The reason is that it’s a necessity and we don’t have many people championing this type of project. So I want to get this to a place where it’s global because this is something that transcends boarders, so we do need a global footprint with regard to this. We can improve on what we offer, but I would focus and try to tackle the crisis of sexual abuse.
How do you define success and do you feel you have achieved it?
I feel that success is being present where you are currently at and being grateful; taking it one step at a time and being able to enjoy the journey. It’s something that I have to remind myself of all the time because, naturally, as human beings, we always trying to work towards something that is greater. On some days, I am success and some days not so (lol).
What are your success tips to young people?
There isn’t a template to success because everyone is passionate about different things. But what I can say is follow your passion. Your passion is something that scares you the most, as cliche as it sounds. Miss South Africa and my campaign scare me sometimes because no day is the same. So do what you love and don’t chase the economic gain as that will eventually come when you are consistent.
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