CUT student scoops modeling title

Bloemfontein-based Thembakazi (Thembi) Mazaleni, a 22-year-old Electrical Engineering student from the Central University of Technology, walked away with the coveted title of Diamond in the Ruff this week.
The reality series, which is sponsored by De Beers and broadcast on DStv’s Mzansi Magic, drew large audiences every week who tuned in to witness inexperienced models transformed into professionals set to take the industry by storm.
Mazaleni, who was born in the Eastern Cape, walked away with a R150 000 cash prize from De Beers, a Chevrolet Spark from General Motors, a modelling contract from The Shine Model Agency, a bursary or R150 000 over three years from De Beers, and funding for driving lessons, learner’s test, and driver’s test.
Her journey to winning the title started when she went for her first audition on a sunny Bloemfontein day at the end of September last year. Having undergone a thorough all-day audition in front of model bookers Rhonwen Job, Carl Heunis, and make-up artist Queen Motlatle, she left the auditions knowing only that she was on the shortlist.  The next morning, the happy news was delivered to her on campus, and three weeks later, she was on her way to Johannesburg.
The competition had numerous stages and challenges the finalists had to perform.
Mazaleni said she enjoyed the iconic images shoot where the contestants had to imitate a Drum magazine cover from the 1950s to 1970s era and give it a modern twist.  She chose a cover of iconic Sophiatown jazz musician,
“I learnt so much during my time in the competition. It developed my confidence to the highest level. I really feel like I’ve improved. I’ve discovered so much about myself.“
Thandi Klaasen.
“I loved that shoot! I really enjoyed that I got to channel someone else’s personality, and energy. Plus, I got to dress up like a princess, which never happens with me, so that
was cool.”
Week after week, Mazaleni delivered the A-class performances that the judges – associate editor of GQ South Africa Siphiwe Mpye, fashion writer and LISOF lecturer Noni Gasa, fashion show producer and designer Shaldon Kopman, and model agency boss Megan Kruger were looking for.
She is very excited about her new career and the opportunities this title will bring.
“I learnt so much during my time in the competition. It developed my confidence to the highest level. I really feel like I’ve improved. I’ve discovered so much about myself. I can’t wait to enter the industry, and use all the lessons learnt on the real thing – working with the industry’s finest.”
Launched on November 1 last year, and following the format of US reality show America’s Next Top Model, Diamond in the Ruff aims to find beautiful and talented young women between the ages of 18 and 25 who would not ordinarily get a chance to model, and give them the opportunity to show what they are made of.