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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Miss SA finalist Melissa Nayimuli reflects on pageantry journey and her upcoming doccie

Melissa reached the Top 5 of Miss SA this year and went back to her day job as TV producer when her journey ended.

Public competitions where aspirant models or singers have to fight to win by vote can be disastrous or helpful for those who don’t end up winning the title.

So Miss SA finalist Melissa Nayimuli made up her mind that she would leverage her time on the pageant to further grow her brand.

“Miss South Africa provided me with a platform to share my message, but I was very intentional with the decision that crown or no crown, I’d have to find another avenue where I could carry on sharing my message post-pageant,” Nayimuli told The Citizen.

The 27 year-old Nayimuli, whose journey on this year’s national beauty contest came to an end in the top five, is putting the final touches to her first directed and produced documentary Chosi Chosi.

“Life after Miss South Africa has been extremely hectic! I’m so grateful for that because I did not only return to my job, but I started working on my documentary, literally a day after the show,” she said laughing.

Chosi Chosi is extremely different from anything I’ve done before because this is going to be the first documentary and production in general that I will be producing and directing under my own media company. This is my baby and I’m really excited about this project,” she said, explaining the documentary set for release in December.

A TV girlie

The doccie will be her directorial debut but Nayimuli has paid her dues in the television space, albeit in the background.

She is a Creative Producer for BlackBrain Pictures, and has been in the role for some of the production house’s biggest shows and movies, including Mzansi Magic’s Lenyalo Ha Se Papadi, and two films that are streaming on Amazon Proof of Payment and Clean Job.

“I’m currently working on two new movies for Netflix that will be out next year,” she said.

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Owning her story

It’s not often that you come across a beauty pageant contestant who enjoys grinding behind the scenes, and there aren’t a lot of people born of a Ugandan father and a Xhosa mother. But such is the rarity that makes up Nayimuli’s identity.

The beauty, who grew up in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, wears these unique attributes with pride.

“My heritage, with the beauty and challenges it comes with, has definitely shaped the woman I am, my career choice, and how I view the world.

“It forced me to look at the world, cultures and people with a curious mind. It made me very aware to our differences as Africans, but also the many similarities we have. From a young age, I knew what it felt like to be treated differently. That built empathy within me to want to understand and give a voice to the marginalised.”

She felt disappointed at the backlash she faced because of her heritage, which forced her to put a stop to plans to execute her advocacy for a united Africa.

“That is a mistake I learnt from because now I’ve made it a point to carry out the work I said I would do, and I’m really proud of that. It is pretty challenging still, but I cannot let fear stop me this time.”

She said the unity, progression, and development of Africa and its people is something that has always been one of her passions.

“My dream has always been to share my advocacy for a united Africa with as many people, and on as many stages as possible, but I just didn’t know how, or where to start until my My Miss South Africa Journey this year. It is what led to the birth of my documentary series Chosi Chosi.”

Miss SA journey

Nayimuli first auditioned for Miss SA in 2016 but was unsuccessful. Four years later in 2020, she joined the competition where she was among those to reach the semifinals. Additionally, Nayimuli was part of the 2023 reality TV show Crown Chasers based on Miss SA.

She said she won’t be entering the beauty contest again, despite the opportunities it gave her.

“Like most young women, I grew up watching Miss South Africa, and being inspired by the work the previous queens did.

“Miss SA was a huge opportunity I will forever cherish and be grateful for, however I will not be entering the pageant again. I’m excited about the doors it has opened, and I will be putting all my energy into focusing on those.”

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