By Caitlin Bantom
On April 7, NTU News joined Mrs. South Africa semi-finalist Nicole Clayton in a lives stream sit down at her hair salon ‘Nicole Michelle Hair’. NTU News journalists, Lukhangele Mayende and Caitlin Bantom had the privilege to chat to her about her professional and personal life, uplifting women and her journey to becoming the next Mrs. South Africa.
An entrepreneur, brand owner, wife, mother, hair stylist and a bolt driver are a few of the things that make up who Nicole Michelle Clayton is. Speaking about her life and the shenanigans she was up to at the age of twelve (12), Clayton highlights her life as a teenager and described it as having been difficult because of the many obstacles she had to face at the time.
“In my teenage years, that’s when it got a little bit rough for me. It was very difficult for me in a sense where I was emotionally abused, I was bullied almost every single day and I technically hated school from the ages of thirteen (13) to eighteen (18). However, once I finished eventually, college life was a lot easier for me and that’s when I actually found my true self,” Clayton said.
Making it to the semi-finals of the Mrs. South Africa pageant has been a wonderful and accomplished experience for Clayton. She told NTU News how proud she was of herself for reaching such an achievement especially for a young girl who came out of the ‘Kasi’.
“I honestly feel that, you know what, I have achieved something and it’s nice to know that a Kasi girl from Buffalo Flats can actually say listen, ‘irrespective of what people had to say about me I’m going to try to do this thing’ and I wrote them a letter, I answered their questions and somehow they selected me and I’m actually proud of myself for actually doing it,” Clayton said.
Mrs. Clayton shared that she actually wanted to participate in the Miss. South Africa pageant, but because she ended up tying the knot and becoming a mother, she could not do so. Entering the Mrs. South Africa pageant was the next best thing for her.
“I wanted to enter for Miss. South Africa and unfortunately, I decided to fall in love, get pregnant and get married. The next thing for me was to enter Mrs. South Africa. I have always wanted to enter some sort of a beauty pageant, but I just did not know which one would it be but I didn’t want to enter something small. I always said that it’s either you go big or you go home,” Clayton said.
On the topic of Gender-based violence against women and children, Clayton told NTU News that incidents of GBV has hit close to home before. She expressed that she would start a group that aims at curbing and fighting against gender-based violence one family at a time.
“Gender-based violence actually happened shall I say next door but not literally next door, just close people to me. If I had to have an input against gender-based violence, I would definitely try to start up a group to fight against all [forms of] gender-based violence. I would [also] join my local communities which I’m already a part of and tackle it one family at a time,” Clayton said.
Pageants like Mrs. South Africa are designed to uplift and empower women. Clayton said that participating in the Mrs. SA Pageant is a privilege as it provides her the opportunity to uplift and empower women and encourage them to work hard towards something that they really desire. She also wants to provide women and girls with the necessary skills to assist them and letting them know that life is not over.
Clayton also highlighted that quite a few women have not completed their Matric in High school and that she strongly felt that women should stick together and provide each other with the necessary help in terms of building careers.
“There are a lot of ladies that don’t have matric, they don’t have any proper schooling behind them and I feel strongly that us women should stick with one another and we should actually give each other help as to how to become mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers, makeup artists, in any industry. I would actually like to start up focus groups to make sure that the women that is in my area and maybe more than just Buffalo Flats [is empowered] and give them a skill.”
Clayton sites her mother as her role model. “My role model is my mother. She has taught me hard work and determination. She has taught me to never give up and she has always backed my hairdressing career from day one.”
Clayton also encourages women who would like to follow in her footsteps and enter a pageant such as Mrs. South Africa to just go for it.
NTU News would like to see Mrs. Clayton in the finals of the Mrs. South Africa pageant and if you would like to see her make it to the finals, you can vote by texting ‘Nicole Clayton’ to 35959. SMS’s cost R3.
To view the full live stream interview, go to our Facebook page @NtuNews or our website at www.ntunews.co.za