WATCH: Demi-Leigh on the stresses of planning a wedding and Tim Tebow's love of biltong
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (Photo: Getty Images)
Johannesburg – In the space of just two
years Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters went from being an ordinary girl from the Western
Cape town of Sedgefield to becoming an international beauty queen who has
walked the red carpets of some of Hollywood's finest events.
Her whirlwind journey started on the Miss
South Africa stage in 2017 when, at the age of 21, Demi was crowned the winner
of the 59th edition of the show held at the Superbowl in Sun City.
Just a few months down the line, the beauty
queen would go on to win the Miss Universe title, then jet off to New York City to start her new life.
I first met Demi on the night of her Miss
SA win in 2017. I remember her as a kind, down-to-earth, bubbly young woman.
And as I sit and talk with her now at the Boss Models office in Johannesburg, I
realise that has not changed.
But there is one thing that's different –
this time there's no crown or sash. I've only ever known her as Demi the beauty queen, so I have to find out what life has been like after her reign.
She's genuine in her response. "It's
not exactly what I've expected," she starts, telling me that she has
signed with IMG models in New York as well as talent agency WME.
"It's really exciting, but I must say
things have been way slower than I thought it would be. You think you win
something like Miss Universe, and you achieve something internationally, and
then everything just works out and just falls into place, but to be honest, now
is when the hard work really starts."
New York City is a notoriously competitive
industry for models, and even though she just completed her first big campaign,
Demi admits it's been stressing her out a bit. "It has definitely tested
my faith and my patience in many, many ways."
But that won't stop her, because she's got
a goal in mind. "I don't see myself as being a model for the rest of my
life. I'm an entrepreneur. I would love to use the experience the I'm gaining
now through the modelling industry," she says.
That experience would go towards building
her own brand in the world of fashion and extend beyond life as a model.
Besides taking on the international
catwalk, Demi is still passionate about her Unbreakable campaign, which she
started during her Miss South Africa reign after falling victim to a botched
Unbreakable grew from a self-defence course
to a women empowerment movement.
"Through my journey, I have spoken to
over 3000 ladies in South Africa, and every single time a lady comes up to me
after a workshop and tells me, 'Demi, because you had the courage to share your
story, for the first I can speak up about what happened to me. For the first
time, I have the courage to go and see a psychologist or a doctor'. To me, that
has already achieved a big goal."
Soon the conversation switches to another
big part of Demi's life – her fiancé, US sports star Tim Tebow.
News of the couple's relationship first
came to light in mid-2018 in an interview Tim did with ESPN. Later, Demi
confirmed to the 947 Breakfast Club that the reports were indeed true.
In January of 2019, Tim got down on one
knee and asked Demi to be his wife.
She perks up immediately as we start to
talk about him – her smile is uncontrollable.
I ask about the proposal, but before I can
even get the question out, she's already answering it.
"Sorry, I totally interrupted your question. I'm so excited," she
Her happiness is contagious, and I can feel
my own smile start to stretch from ear to ear as she talks about Tim's sisters
and how they tricked her into getting dressed up for a "Christmas
lunch", which later turned out to be much more than that.
Though they did not get to see each other
that much at the beginning of their relationship, Demi says she knew from the
start Tim was the one.
"He just exceeded every expectation I
could ever have. He taught me things that I needed in a relationship that I
didn't even know of."
There's another secret about Tim that she
shares – his love of biltong.
"I am not kidding you if I tell you
that he eats biltong and droëwors for breakfast, lunch and dinner," she
says, adding that he loves South African food and, "thinks the quality is
Going back to the wedding, we talk about
what the planning process has been like.
While Tim admitted in a chat with USA Today
that he is pretty chilled when it comes to the big day, Demi says at times she
really feels the pressure.
"It's stressful, I won't lie. I've
always said I'm never going to be a bridezilla; I'm never going to be one of
those stressed-out brides. And here I am, stressed out."
But despite the stress, she says things are
"falling into place".
Looking to the future, Demi tells me what
she wants for her life in the next five years.
"I see myself as a successful model,
definitely a married woman, and a business owner."
She adds: "I also look forward to
doing work with my fiancé/future husband. It would be exciting to see what
ventures we get to take on as a team. And in 5 years hopefully Benji (her dog)
is in America with me at the time."