Former Miss SA, radio presenter and all-round inspiration, Liesl Laurie looks summer-on-the-Highveld hot on the March cover of Women’s Health. Despite her evident star quality, the woman from Eldorado Park is still refreshingly down-to-earth. Yet, at the same time, Liesl always knew she wanted to change the game, and her story is an important one for young women to hear. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learnt from this powerhouse… and the most heartwarming cover back-story ever!
Stay true to yourself.
Liesl was dubbed the ‘People’s Princess’ after her 2015 Miss SA win. Fitting, as she’s never been the typical princess type, admitting that “even as a model, I got to set and people made me what they made me to be, and then I would leave and be me again.” Since embarking on a fitness journey with her trainer Merryl, Liesl has been sharing her workouts in that same spirit of unfiltered reality. “I’ve always wanted to share more of the ‘other’ side of my life — not just the beauty and the ‘perfect’. So I started sharing the training stuff, the bloopers, and showing people that I really don’t know half the things Merryl asks me to do!”
Never give up on your goals.
Everything Liesl has put her mind to, she’s achieved, from her Miss SA win to her co-hosting position at Jacaranda FM’s breakfast show, and even her Women’s Health cover; they were all goals she set at some point. Of the pageant win, she says, “I knew that I could pull it off, and I wanted to pull it off — you must want it otherwise you’re not going to get it.” Liesl won Miss SA on her second attempt. Having been turned away when she was 21, she identified her development areas, worked on them and returned three years later, determined to win. “By then I had had a job, I had graduated, I was 24 and you’re a little more at ease with yourself,” she says.
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Be kind to yourself.
After every success, the pressure is definitely on to keep achieving, but Liesl soon realised she didn’t have to adhere to everyone else’s expectations of her. These days, ‘I’m doing what makes me happy,” she says. “I’m healthy, I enjoy my life so everyone else can juuust wait a bit! And the pressure leaves with that. Do I feel like I’m thriving and I’m moving up in my space? Yes. Am I on your level? Not necessarily. I’m living for me. That’s what’s important. Live at your pace with what you want for yourself.”
Create a vision of your future.
It was around the beginning of 2019 when Liesl first had the idea that she wanted to be on the cover of Women’s Health. She had got back into the gym after a break-up, converting her pain into gains. “When I started training and seeing the little lines, the first little bump on my quad, I said to Merryl, ‘I don’t know who to get in touch with, and I feel like it’s a bit forward to get in touch with the editor directly so maybe someone else, but whoever it was, I wanted to say, listen, I’d like to be on the cover of Women’s Health.” Liesl even told her mom and friends that “this is my next journey.”
Always make a good impression… you never know who’s watching!
By the middle of 2019, there was still no sign of any cover prospects and Liesl was getting a bit despondent. Little did she know, the universe was conspiring to make her dreams come true. As part of the 2019 Miss SA preliminary judging panel, Liesl ended up sitting next to the WH editor at the time, Danielle Weakley!
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“I got into the Miss SA room and Danielle’s name tag had fallen over. I knew her name but I didn’t know what she looked like. So we got chatting about hair and she was obsessed with my brows! I actually even made fun of her for wanting almond milk and her Cape Town ways! But as I started figuring it out, I went numb inside. And ten seconds later an intern came in and fixed her name tag. I messaged my best friend immediately, and she said ‘ask her!’ I said, ‘No wait! We need to play it cool!’ I was there for Miss SA and to be a part of the pageant, and this was not the time nor the place.” Liesl was a total pro, and kept her game face on despite dying with excitement inside. They exchanged numbers. Still totally profesh. A few months later, when Danielle contacted her about the cover feature, Liesl cried in her car.