Zozibini Tunzi (born on September 18th, 1993; Age: 30 years old) is a 5 feet 10 inches tall South African model and actress who rose to fame after winning the Miss South Africa and Miss Universe pageants in 2019.
At the age of six, Zozi’s parents introduced her to pageantry in order to boost her confidence. She then competed for the Miss SA crown in 2017 while completing her diploma studies. Two years later, she won Miss South Africa and also became the first black South African woman to win the Miss Universe pageant and the second black African winner after Leila Lopes’ victory in 2011.
How Old is Zozibini Tunzi?
Former Miss SA, Zozibini Tunzi, is 30 years old. She was born in Tsolo, Eastern Cape, on September 18th, 1993. Zozi’s zodiac sign is Virgo. She was raised in the nearby village of Sidwadweni. At the age of six, she participated in her first pageant show, and 19 years later, she was crowned Miss South Africa.
Zozibini Tunzi’s Family
Zozibini Tunzi was raised by her parents, Lungisa Tunzi and Philiswa Nadapu. Her father, Lungisa, works in the Department of Higher Education and Training in Pretoria. Whereas her mother, Philiswa, works as a school principal at Bangweni Junior Secondary School in Bolotwa village in the Eastern Cape.
Zozi refers to herself as a ‘daddy’s girl’ and cites her father as her biggest fan, having been her unfailing pillar of support since she took to pageantry as a little girl. Before winning the Miss Universe pageant, Zozibini Tunzi took to Instagram on the morning of the pageant’s final day to let her parents know how much she appreciates their sacrifices. She thanked them for raising her to become the woman she is and said she would forever be grateful for that.
She further asserted that she hopes to make them proud every day of her life. And she eventually did that when she was crowned a beauty queen on a world stage in December 2019. Zozibini is a proud Xhosa woman and often takes pride in where she comes from. Born as the second child of her parents, the famous model grew up with her sisters, Yanga, Sibabalwe, and Ayakha.
While she refers to her sisters as her best friends, Zozi has once revealed that her elder sister, Yanga was quite cold to her when they were younger. When asked why she picked on her so much then, Yanga told Zozibini that she felt she needed someone who was not going to coddle her as everyone else in their family did. And that the real world wouldn’t be soft on her either.
Zozibini Tunzi’s Education Background and Qualifications
With her mother working as a principal, it’s no surprise that Zozibini Tunzi prioritizes her education. She first attended the Canaan Academy in Dutywa, Eastern Cape, where she completed her primary education. Afterward, she relocated to Cape Town, and there, she acquired a National Diploma in Public Relations Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the year 2018.
Still aiming for higher qualifications, Zozi enrolled for a B.Tech degree. And served as a graduate intern at the PR department of the well-known advertising agency Ogilvy. She later bagged a Bachelor of Technology degree in Public Relations Management from Cape Peninsula University of Technology after winning Miss SA.
Working as a motivational speaker, the 30-year-old CPUT alumna visited her alma mater in February 2023 at the first-year students welcoming event to motivate them. She got a standing ovation from the crowd when she entered the Bellville Stadium. She encouraged the first-year students by letting them know that education is something nobody can ever take away from them.
Zozibini Started Her Modeling Career at the Age of 6
Zozi, as a little girl, was very shy, and her parents wanted her to face the world confidently. Hence, they introduced her to pageantry when she was six years old to boost her confidence. Her father, Lungisa, explained to her that she couldn’t be anything in the world without having confidence.
Consequently, little Zozi entered her first beauty pageant exuding poise, and won the contest. Since then, she has been taking part in pageants, and in 2015, at the age of 22, she was crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns. She then entered the Miss South Africa pageant two years later. And made an exit from the competition as one of the top 26 semifinalists.
At 25, Zozibini Tunzi was Crowned Miss South Africa
Later in the year 2019, Zozibini Tunzi returned to compete in the Miss SA pageant. She was accepted as one of the top 35 semifinalists in the competition on June 26th, 2019. And after additional auditions, she was confirmed among the sixteen finalists of Miss SA 2019 on July 11th. Then on August 9th, 2019, which was the final day of the competition, Zozi advanced to the top ten after progressing through the stages of the final.
She further advanced to the top five and then the top two and was eventually crowned the winner of Miss South Africa 2019 by her predecessor, Tamaryn Green, at the age of 25. Sasha-Lee Olivier ended up as the runner-up in the competition but was later crowned Miss SA 2019 after Zozi won Miss Universe. Following her Miss SA win, Zozibini Tunzi was awarded R1 million prize money and a fully furnished apartment in Sandton (valued at R5 million) to live in throughout her reign.
The beauty pageant title holder was also given a brand-new car. A month after winning Miss SA, Zozi traveled to New York, USA, and walked in New York Fashion Week 2019. It was her first international trip, and she walked the runway for Maxhosa – a fashion label owned by South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo. Interestingly, Zozibini Tunzi’s Miss SA win offered her the opportunity to represent her home country of South Africa at the Miss Universe 2019 pageant.
When Did Zozibini Tunzi Win Miss Universe?
On December 8th, 2019, Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe by her Filipino predecessor, Catriona Gray. The 68th installment of the global beauty pageant was held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Zozi progressed to the top twenty as the first semifinalist for the Africa/Asia-Pacific continental region.
Later on, she advanced to the top ten, top five, and then the final three contestants. Zozibini Tunzi edged out the first runner-up, Madison Anderson from Puerto Rico, and second runner-up, Sofia Aragón from Mexico, to become queen of the universe, thanks to her tactical approach to the questions being asked her. She approached each question as a conversation with the host, Steve Harvey, and with that, she was able to win the hearts of the judges and the public as well.
For instance, when asked, “What is the most important thing we should teach young girls, Zozi’s answer was, “Leadership.” She went further to emphasize women’s empowerment and encouraged young women to take up space in society. Following her win, Zozibini Tunzi became the third South African woman to be crowned Miss Universe.
The first person was Margaret Gardiner in 1978, followed by Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017. Interestingly, the 30-year-old model is the first black South African to wear the Miss Universe crown. Zozibini became a rand millionaire after receiving her Miss Universe prizes. Some of her benefits included:
- A year-long salary said to be worth over $100,000 (about R1.475 million)
- A luxury apartment in New York City
- Services of professional nutritionists
- Free dental services
- Personal styling by the official Miss Universe Organization fashion stylist
- Skincare consultations
- A modeling portfolio by some of the best fashion photographers
The Former Beauty Queen is the Longest-serving Miss Universe
Zozibini Tunzi emerged as the longest-reigning Miss Universe titleholder in May 2021 when she passed down the crown to Andrea Meza from Mexico. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zozi’s reign lasted for one year, five months, and 8 days. Thus, surpassing Leila Lopes’ reign, which ended in December 2012 after one year, three months, and seven days.
Though COVID-19 helped the Tsolo-born to make history, it deterred her from carrying out her Miss Universe role at full capacity. Nevertheless, she was able to make her voice heard using multiple platforms, including social media. She used her reign as Miss Universe to speak out against gender-based violence and advocate for gender equality.
She also worked as an advocate for multiple organizations, such as Latino Commission on Aids, UN Women, Smile Train International, and #HeForSheCampaign. Additionally, before the coronavirus global lockdown, Zozi Tunzi traveled to Jakarta and Sumba in Indonesia, her home country of South Africa, and various cities within the United States.
Tunzi Made History with Miss Universe Win
Zozi Tunzi’s decision to embrace her natural hair on the world stage made her a firm favorite long before winning the crown. Following her victory, Zozi emerged as the first model to win Miss Universe with afro-textured hair. Despite being advised by a lot of people to wear a wig, Zozi insisted on appearing on the Miss Universe stage with her natural hair.
She decided not to compromise her appearance to fit what her advisors and many people perceived as the “Miss Universe look.” She explained that she had been wearing her natural hair for three years before joining the Miss Universe competition. And thus, she chose to be herself and went on to record a historical win.
The Model Had a Colorful Homecoming After Winning Miss Universe
After Zozi was announced as Miss Universe, she was congratulated by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was so proud of her. She also received a congratulatory message from the South African parliament as well as many public figures in Mzansi. On January 27th, 2020, the government called on South Africans to welcome Zozibini Tunzi home.
In the next month, the elegant model had her homecoming celebration at Mthatha Stadium in Eastern Cape. She was welcomed by hundreds of well-wishers and presented with gifts. She was presented with a grass mat which was laid out for her to sit on. She also received a grass tray (isithebe) and other traditional gifts.
The event was attended by government officials, including Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Afterward, Zozi visited her hometown of Sidwadweni for more celebrations. She also attended celebrations organized by the OR Tambo District Municipality.
Furthermore, she was invited to the State of the Nation Address by President Ramaphosa and also got invited to speak with young people at different schools in the Eastern Cape.
What Led to The Hashtag #HandsOffZozi?
In May 2020, during her reign as Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi made headlines for the wrong reason when some Facebook users dug up her old Facebook post, a video wherein she ridiculed dark-skinned girls wearing blonde weaves of extensions. In the video, the former Miss SA described the dark-skinned girls as Duracell batteries.
After the video went viral, Zozi Tunzi tendered a public apology for some of her old insensitive Facebook posts in a video that she shared on social media. Consequently, Mzansi forgave her, and #HandsOffZozi started trending on social media platforms. Also, some celebrities, including Pearl Thusi, took to Twitter to make it public that they were standing by the beauty pageant titleholder no matter what.
Was Zozibini Tunzi in Bridgerton?
No, Zozibini Tunzi didn’t score a role in the popular Netflix series, Bridgerton. However, she was asked to serve as the host of the Bridgerton party hosted by Netflix at The Palazzo Hotel in Johannesburg in March 2022. The hot soiree, which was themed ‘A Bridgerton Affair,’ was held a day before the premiere of season two of the Netflix series.
About 400 guests were expected to grace the party and would dress as one of the characters from the show. The party host, Zozi, slipped into the character of Her Majesty, Queen Charlotte, and attendees such as Donovan Goliath and Lesego “Coconut Kelz” Tlhabi dressed as the characters of the queen’s righthand man, Brimsely and Lady Whistledown, respectively.
Zozibini Tunzi Made Her Acting Debut with The Woman King
In addition to working as a motivational speaker, Zozibini Tunzi took to acting after her Miss Universe reign ended. In January 2022, she landed the role of Efe in the critically acclaimed American historical movie, The Woman King. The film premiered in September 2022 and starred other Mzansi stars like Thando Dlomo and Masali Baduza.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Woman King won several accolades, including the American Film Institute Award and the National Board of Review Award. The film was also a box office success, having grossed $94.4 million from worldwide theatrical release on a production budget of $50 million.
She was Announced as The New Face of Lux in 2021
The CPUT alumna, Zozi Tunzi, joined the family of LUX South Africa in November 2021. With Lux inspiring and encouraging women to be unapologetic when it comes to their feminity and beauty, Zozi became an ideal candidate for the new face of Lux – one of the world’s most iconic soap brands.
The 30-year-old is quite popular for being unapologetically feminine and has since become a role model for using pageantry to challenge beauty stereotypes and prejudice faced by women across the globe. She joined the iconic list of multifaceted women like Khanyi Dhlomo, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, and Nandi Madida, who have previously partnered with Lux.
What is Zozibini Tunzi’s Height?
Zozibini Tunzi is 5 feet 10 inches (178 m) tall and weighs 51 kg (112 lbs). In addition to her stunning physical appearance, the former beauty queen has been able to stand out from the crowd in pageantry due to her high level of intelligence, which has enabled her to answer questions asked during pageant shows impressively.