In the last year, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters transformed from Miss South Africa to Miss Universe, traveling the world, spreading her message of female empowerment and having the chance of a lifetime to experience new cultures. On Sunday, Dec. 16th, she will end her reign as Miss Universe and crown the next young woman to hold the title, which could be any of the stunning contestants from the 97 countries in the competition. Before heading to Bangkok, Thailand, where the competition will be held, Demi-Leigh chatted with HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview and looked back on her year as Miss Uni. “I think this year has totally exceeded every single expectation I had. It’s been just a once in a lifetime experience. Opportunity is not even enough to describe it,” the South African beauty gushed. “The things I got to experience, the people I got to meet, the countries I got to travel to and explore. It was so incredible. I think most of all the platform I had and every country I got to visit I was able to leave a message behind. That’s something I’m so grateful for.”
Before being crowned Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh was victim of a traumatic carjacking, which she narrowly escaped after using self-defense and fighting off the five gunmen who attempted to kidnap her. “A women’s empowerment course that I did prior to that incident that gave me with skills, knowledge and sound advice of what to do in a situation like that, and I believe it truly saved my life,” she explained. “I started a campaign called Unbreakable, which I ran across South Africa, hosting workshops with experts in the field and giving women the same skills I was taught to handle situations like the one I was in.”
Demi-Leigh continued, “Becoming Miss Universe gave me a global platform to speak up about it and being able to travel taught me so much about women across the world. Living in the States for a year and traveling, I learned that so many women all over the world have experienced the same things. We want to be loved and want to feel empowered and be empowered and know how to look out for ourselves.”
You can watch Demi-Leigh take her final walk as Miss Universe, and crown the new title-holder on Sunday, December 16th at 7 PM ET on FOX!