South African Zozibini Tunzi, a 26-year-old public relations professional and activist is the first black woman to be crowned Miss Universe since Angola’s Leila Lopes in 2011.
The beauty queen beat out 89 other competitors during the pageant held at Tyler Perry’s studio in Atlanta, hosted by Steve Harvey.
“Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it,” Tunzi told the media after her emphatic win on Sunday night. “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.”
The two runner ups for the crown were Miss Mexico Sofia Aragon and Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson.
Tunzi’s win marks the first time that all four major pageant titles are held by black women, as she is joined by Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris.
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“Society has been programmed for a very long time that [it] never saw beauty in a way that was black girl magic, but now we are slowing moving to a time where women like myself can finally find a place in society, can finally know they’re beautiful,” said Tunzi onstage on Sunday night.
Tunzi vocalized she spent the week preparing for her shining moment by listening to Beyonce and Wizkid’s “Brown Skin Girl.”
“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,” said Tunzi. “I think that it is time that that stops today.”
When asked what we should be teaching young girls today for her final questions of the competition, the new Miss Universe emphasized “leadership”:
“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,” she told host Steve Harvey.“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 [is] as important as taking up space in society, and cementing yourself,” she added, as the audience roared in agreement.