Jen Su

The last time Travelwrite checked in with Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, we were sipping hot chocolate at the Lafayette Grand Café in New York City, a little over a year ago. Zozi had just been crowned Miss Universe 2019, and was settling in New York and ready to take on the world. Despite the crazy past year with the coronavirus pandemic, Zozi shared many fun stories of her travels, as well as her favourite food and shopping over the Festive Season …

And with the next Miss Universe pageant still to be announced in 2021, South Africa’s Miss Universe 2019 could be making history with the longest reign, after Leila Lopes of Angola, who currently holds the record of 464 days.

Zozibini Tunzi
Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi at home with Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris (pictured left) and Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst (pictured right).

Her first international trip as Miss Universe to Indonesia last February was one of the global highlights of her reign.  “I was there to shoot a commercial, and a second time for the Miss Universe Indonesia Pageant. I especially loved the beautiful difference in culture, as well as the country and people.”

And that’s where Zozi experienced her funniest moment.  “We had this event in Indonesia in a hotel, where fans of Miss Universe would come in for a more personal opportunity to chat.  There were about 50 or 60 people there, and I was speaking while sitting on a chair,” she explained.   “I felt that the chair was a little unstable, but I thought, ‘Nah, I’m lightweight, I can do this.’ “

Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi

“All of a sudden, the chair just moved forward and I fell down!” she said, laughing.  “I fell off the chair, but my immediate instinct was, ‘oh my goodness, don’t break the crown!’ I can break my face, but I can’t break this (R75m Mouawad) crown! It was so embarrassing because everyone had their cameras and cellphones out – and I thought, ‘oh dear I’ll probably be trending tomorrow for falling off a chair!”

As for her favourite foods, Zozi says, “I love pizza and pasta, so maybe it’s a whole Italian vibe happening there… Those are my favourite foods to indulge in.  If I’m not having pizza, I’m definitely having pasta.  Back home, I love a nice samp and tripe and yummy South African dishes made by my Mom and sisters.“

Rue 57 Parisian Brasserie and Sushi Bar was her convenient eatery, and her flat-mate, Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst, was her soulmate and “dinner date”, especially during the pandemic.

Miss Universe shared her favourite shopping sites, ahead of the Festive Season.  “I love ‘Pretty Little Thing’ with nice petite clothes  and believe it or not, it can be hard for me to find clothes that fit properly so they’re one of my favourites.”  The beauty queen added, “I also love ’Souk and Sepia’ offering gently curated products from around the world.

The beauty queen plans to be in South Africa for Christmas, where the family ritual includes going to church in the Eastern Cape and a Christmas lunch feast with a ‘pot luck’ assortment of food.

Finally, Zozi’s secret hideaway?  “I definitely lock myself up and listen to music the whole day, and binge-watch series.  I’ve been watching The Crown, and The Queen’s Gambit is on my “to-do” list.  And then I’ve been watching a lot of K-dramas.  Oh my goodness, a friend recommended a Korean drama to me, and I just ended up getting absorbed into the whole culture.”

TV & Radio Presenter Jen Su is South Africa’s fashion traveller, who jets around the world to attend London, Paris, Milan, and New York Fashion Week - red carpet events from the Cannes Film Festival to the MTV Video Music Awards. Jen has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Film Society. She spends time in between her hectic travels, to look after her young son undergoing medical treatment and chemotherapy in the US.