The secret to coaching pageant winners: 'I help them realise their own power'

When South Africa's Zozibini Tunzi was crowned as Miss Universe there was one person who was particularly thrilled because he'd had a hand in her journey to international success.

Werner Wessels is creative director of the Miss South Africa pageant, after years spent working as a pageant coach.

He's helped several beauty queen wannabes achieve their dream, starting with former schoolmate Melinda Bam and Miss South Africa 2011.

Talk Radio 702s Udo Carelse and Miss SA Melinda Bam at the Discovery 702 Walk the Talk race on 22 July, 2012. Picture: @702talkradio via Twitter

Wessels says his career journey "happened naturally", the culmination of the pageant queen dreams he shared with his school friend.

The fashion design graduate was quite happy to grow up in Pretoria with its "small town mentality" but always knew he was destined for something bigger.

I just knew it was going to be something on a global stage... I always knew that I loved fashion and that I loved women.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

I think that stems from women - girls - they were all my best friends and they loved me before I could love myself and before I knew my own power.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

The night that she [Melinda Bam] won I went up to to Rolene Strauss and I said, you need to come back and I'll train you.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

What is his secret to being such a successful pageant coach?

I've been very fortunate to work with these women and I think the greatest thing about it is that I had a hand [in their success]... The only thing that I actually do is I just make them realise their own power.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

I make them realise who they have already been their whole life and just give them the confidence to showcase that to the world because I think it's a scary thing when you have to put yourself on a platform. It's vulnerable and you open yourself up to a whole lot of of criticism and a lot of opinions

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

I trained five Miss South Africa's before I officially became part of the competition.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

The 31-year-old is thrilled with his new role as Miss SA creative director:

It's a full-circle moment for me and I'm so happy that I get to have a say in all aspects of the pageant and this platform which I'm so passionate about.

Werner Wessels, Creative director - Miss South Africa

Listen to Wessels' insights into the beauty queen scene below:

Thumbnail image credit: Werner Wessels on Instagram


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