South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi will now hold the title as Miss Universe for the next 12 months. The 26-year-old beauty queen beat out 89 other contestants during the pageant. Her Miss Universe biography describes her as a “passionate activist” who is “engaged in the fight against gender based violence.”
More than 90 women from across the world took part in the pageant and the two runners-up for the crown were Miss Mexico and Miss Puerto Rico.
The massive competition was hosted at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta and hosted by Steve Harvey. The evening consisted of rounds of swimsuit and evening gown walks, Q&A’s on social issues, and one final chance to plead as to why she was the right choice to be the next Miss Universe.
Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it.
May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine.
I am #MissUniverse2019. pic.twitter.com/gMkjmVCabo
— Zozibini Tunzi (@zozitunzi) December 9, 2019
“I think one of the most important things we should be teaching young girls today is leadership,” she said. “It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labeled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space. Nothing as important as taking up space in society.”
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful,” she said in her last response. “I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Zozibini’s win makes it the first time in eight years that a black woman won the title. It also means that the titles of Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe are all held by black women.
Although her exact prizes aren’t revealed by Miss Universe, Zozibini’s expected to have won a year’s stay rent-free in an apartment in New York – and a salary worth around $100,000. She’ll also fly around the world for media and modelling opportunities.