By Shanell Daniel
She’s smart, she’s beautiful and she’s ready to take on the world. Westville’s very own, Avania Reddy (25), is one of four Miss South Africa 2018 regional qualifiers. She stands the chance of making it to the Top 12 contestants. The qualified mechanical engineer and beauty queen excitedly engaged in an exclusive interview with The Westville
The Westville Weekly Gazette (TWWG): Beauty queens are often stereotyped and boxed into certain classifications. Tell us, what is Avania Reddy all about?
Avania Reddy (AR): Anything but typical! I have been a walking contradiction most of my life, always frustrating those who try to shove me into a box. I consider myself to be quite a fierce woman, I take ownership of my life and tend to be the heroine of my own story. As fierce as I can be (within both my personal and professional life), I am also a passionate person. I feel very deeply about people and causes that are close to my heart. I am most likely the one who needs a tissue during a good movie. Can you see what I mean by walking contradiction? I have developed a love affair with travel. I have always dreamt of travelling the world and have always felt very connected to the earth. The desire to see this beautiful planet stems from more than chasing a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. I am fascinated by different cultures, by nature and the feeling that both myself and my problems are small. Travel does that, gives you a world of perspective. In a nutshell, Avania is a woman of science, one with a curious mind, a very big heart and a distinct, old soul.
TWWG: Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?
AR: I was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, in a small suburb called Reservoir Hills. I come from a big, bustling family, where I am the oldest of three children. My home has always consisted of people, laughter and warmth. I grew up watching my mother and my father work very hard to support and educate their children. This has shaped my work ethic and instilled the importance of hard work and independence. For the most part of my childhood, I was deemed a “tomboy” with multiple skinned knees and hours spent outdoors playing sports. The cherry on top of my wonderful upbringing are my dogs. I have been blessed enough to share great connections with my family pets, which has taught me about unconditional love and the essence of an animal.
TWWG: Being in the running for the Miss SA title is a great accomplishment which also carries great responsibility. How are you using the platform to change the community/country as a whole?
AR: Ignorance is the greatest threat to growth. Being a part of such a mammoth platform adds volume to my voice and I wish to use this to create awareness for multiple causes. These include gender equality, women abuse, animal cruelty, poaching, HIV and Aids and South Africa’s children. I also wish to be a beacon of light to the youth, especially young women who feel the pressures of modern day society. In the age of social media and the current ‘attention generation’, I wish to be the voice that grounds women, where focus is shifted to our essence over and above physical beauty. We really are magical creatures and I wish to build women’s self-esteem and self-respect. Women become ten times greater when loved correctly and I believe that this love is required from oneself first.
TWWG: Women and children often fall victim to abuse and criminal acts. How do you plan to assist in preventing abuse and criminal acts against women and children?
AR: Elaborating on my previous comment, building a woman’s self-respect and sense of self-worth directly influences her threshold for disrespect. I wish to use my voice to empower and inspire both women and children, and create local organisations which support and empower those who are victims of abuse. Education is a core factor to the emancipation of women and the success of our children. My independence is one of the most critical factors in my life and I wish to ignite this fire in others, where their independence becomes as vital. When a woman feels empowered, she takes ownership of her life, directly impacting her children and her ability to protect them.
TWWG: Where do you see South Africa in the next 10 years?
AR: South Africa has the warmest people in the world. While I may be a tad bias because I love this country so much, I believe we have the potential to overcome our struggles largely due to the character of our people. There is power in the masses. I foresee a country that refuses to quietly accept fraud and injustice. I foresee a government which has taken great strides to reduce the abuse of power and assets, and one that fiercely empowers and educates its people. I foresee a world where although evil may exist, complacency will not.
TWWG: What is your message to young girls, and even boys, who have a desire to change their communities/family life?
AR: A quote that has resonated with me all my life comes from Mother Teresa, ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one’. I distinctly remember the feeling of helplessness when realising how much suffering occurs in our world. Just because you cannot save the world all at once, does not mean that you cannot save a single person, for a single day, or for a single meal. Never underestimate the power you have. Your one good deed could start a ripple effect throughout your community. Be brave enough to be a trailblazer. Change the world. You can.
TWWG: On a lighter note, being part of a beauty pageant of great magnitude like Miss SA has got to have many perks. What do you enjoy the most about the experience?
AR: After experiencing the regional judging at Sibaya Casino in Durban, the greatest perk was sharing the room with powerful people and business people with great minds. You could feel it in the air, it was electric. People with purpose, men and women with direction. I hope to grow as both a woman and a professional on this platform, so this type of exposure is the greatest perk on this adventure.
TWWG: If you make it to the Top 12, and we hope you do, what is your plan of action if crowned Miss SA this year?
AR: Firstly, thank my parents for empowering me with the tools to chase my wildest dreams and for never allowing me to believe that I fit into a box. Thereafter, I want to channel my energies into enriching South Africa and its people. From involvement with charities, to creating awareness and positively influencing those that my lone voice can reach. I have always wanted to change the world, if I am ever blessed enough to receive this platform and the voice that it offers, I would do my best to make this place just a little bit better for every human being.
TWWG: For our readers who admire your physical attributes, what tips do you have for a healthy lifestyle?
AR: Water and a good night’s rest are your best friends. As cliché as it sounds, your body is a temple, treat it as so. I have also noticed that when I treat my body correctly, my mind follows suit. A healthy body supports a healthy mind. What you put in is exactly what you get out.
TWWG: You’re a qualified mechanical engineer and now in the running for Miss SA. These are two completely different fields. How do you find a balance to live out both dreams?
AR: Nothing worth having comes easily. While I cannot say it is a walk in the park, when there is enough motivation, there is nothing you cannot achieve. Safe to say, I have all the motivation in the world. As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut and I wanted to be a Miss South Africa. I am still working on all these dreams. I believe there is something to be learnt in every endeavour in life. I am treating my journey in Miss South Africa 2018 as such, a learning curve to shape my business mind, my social conscience and my public persona.
Complete the sentence:
1) My favourite accessory is … my lipstick!
2) The most adrenalin-pumping activity I’ve done was …solo travelling in Greece.
3) If I could learn another language I would learn …Zulu, of course.
4) To me, being young means … being hopeful.
5) To me, being beautiful means … being kind.