Wynberg-born Olin-Shae de la Cruz, has made it to the semi-finals of the Miss South Africa 2017 contest.
She hopes to be an example to youth and show them that it’s possible to make a change in their lives.
Olin-Shae, 22, is currently living in Johannesburg where she entered the pageant. Out of 2 000 entrants, only 56 were shortlisted and Olin-Shae was delighted to be one of the semi-finalists.
She had always dreamed of being Miss South Africa but it was only after giving motivational talks to youth at schools that she decided to enter.
“While talking to youth at schools I realised that I wanted to see a change and encourage youth to empower themselves.”
She said by entering the Miss SA competition, she could show youth that they too could be, “the best version of themselves”.
Olin-Shae is constantly trying to improve herself and secure her future.
She is studying for business administration in media operations management at Boston Media House.
“I was always active in presenting shows, acting and dancing but decided to study media for when I’m older, so I can start my own media company.”
And when she is not interacting with the youth, she supports community projects.
Southern Mail caught up with her while she was helping her aunt, Venetia Orgill, from Beacon Valley, who is the founder of Discover Your Power, which feeds the homeless at the Company’s Gardens in Cape Town.
Ms Orgill, is proud of her niece. “Olin-Shae is a great role model for the youth and I am bursting with pride for what she has achieved,” she said.
Olin-Shae also made a good impression on Mymoena Scholtz from Where Rainbows Meet which provides vegetables to Discover Your Power.
She recently trailed her aunt to Where Rainbows Meet.
“It was a real pleasure and honour to have received a visit from the semi-finalist. We thank her for the visit and for connecting with each and every member in the foundation. We could clearly see that she loves inspiring others. We wish her every success on her journey and we know whichever direction she may choose, she will make a great success of it,” said Ms Scholtz.
Olin-Shae’s mother, Karin Ford, agreed that her daughter has always had a connection with the community.
“I was very protective over her when she grew up. I have an older daughter, but I lost a baby who died in a cot death, before Olin-Shae was born.
“And when Olin-Shae came into this world I took off work the first three years to stay at home. I pampered her and was very protective over her,” said Ms Ford.
At the age of five, Olin-Shae’s parents got divorced.
Ms Ford said: “My main concern was my children. And I became their safety net. I also did not keep Olin-Shae away from her dad, Dennis de la Cruz. Regardless of the divorce, I did not want my children to suffer, so she saw her dad regularly.”
When asked what she thinks of her daughter entering Miss SA, she said: “I always pray for her and support her in whatever she does.”
Ms Ford said her daughter communicates well with people.
“I think she is an old soul. Maybe because she was always surrounded by people older than her.”
Ms Ford said Olin-Shae went to Wynberg Girls’ Primary School and Westerford High School.
“She was doing arts and drama while at school. And when she decided to study media, she moved to Johannesburg two years ago. “
Ms Ford wasn’t surprised when her daughter told her she wanted to enter Miss South Africa 2017.
“Her lucky number is 17 so 2017 was the year she wanted to enter.”
The cut-off date to enter was in June.
“I was so overwhelmed when I saw 2 000 entrants. Olin-Shae was dressed in a casual dress because we thought the judges were going to let the entrants wear casual then go to formal dress. We found out that they were going to look at one dress. I told her to go and change. She made a way to get out of the waiting line to put on another dress.”
But Ms Ford said she was shocked when Olin-Shae returned wearing her dress back to front.
“I was freaking out and asked her to run to the bathroom.
“I also wasn’t happy with her red lipstick. I know she loves red lipstick, but I thought the judges would not like it. However, she insisted on keeping the red lipstick because she said that was her. And she pulled it off,” smiled Ms Ford.
She said the competition was tough but her daughter made it so far.
“I prayed and I couldn’t eat, but when they announced her name (I was elated).”
The Top 26 semi-finalists will compete at the Sun City Superbowl in March for the Miss SA title.