Former Miss South Africa, Philanthropist and Businesswoman
Amy Kleinhans-Curd with her New Zealand born husband, four children and many adoring dogs has created an admirable life of love and balance. First coming to the world’s attention on the back of her undeniable glamour and beauty as Miss South Africa 1992, over the years she has remained grounded and nourished by her community, charged by her entrepreneurial spirit and inspired by her altruistic desire to help others.
Amy was crowned Miss South Africa in 1992 and was quickly besieged with offers to involve herself in various businesses and causes. Armed with a Degree in Higher Education, Amy opted to focus her time on creating a company that would have a positive impact on education throughout South Africa. She is also a patron of ChildLine and the Sunshine Association for disabled children.
‘My crowing in 1992 as Miss South Africa was an incredible experience leading to more opportunities than I could ever have imagined’. At the time Amy was representing a disenfranchised people with no voice and an entire community got crowned with her and were given inspiration and hope for a better future. As a non-white South African, Amy was making history and changing the world. Part of a previously disadvantaged people, she did not even have the right to vote at the time.
‘The world was watching South Africa in the early 1990’s, especially after Nelson Mandela had been released. They were looking for the details in South African politics, at what we were doing socially, what was happening on the ground and where our politicians were going with the required change.’
Amy proudly describes herself as a Cape Town girl, as this is where her home is and has always been. She exudes a love for life, and time in her company gifts you with broad smiles and heart-warming laughter.
At the time the South Africa youth were being referred to as the ‘lost generation’ and it was thought they weren’t aware of the sacrifices made in this country by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and more. With her win, Amy would go on to show that this was not so, and that the world was her oyster – as she carried the country’s youth with her.
During the year of her reign, Amy would place 4th at the Miss World pageant, which was hosted at The Palace of the Lost City. The contest provided an opportunity at the time to showcase the beauty of the country and the incredible facilities that were on offer to visitors, part of a brilliant initiative by Sol Kerzner to attract more tourists to his Sun City complex.
Amy describes how while gathered for rehearsals ahead of the big day, she realised that part of the procession would involve the contestants walking out on stage flying their respective country’s flags. She immediately raised this with the organisers asking, ‘What flag am I going to use?’ Blatantly announcing that she would not be using the old South African flag as it symbolised sadness and grief for so many of the people of South Africa.
This contention drew attention and a solution needed to be reached. Nobody wanted Amy to pull out of the competition or to be disqualified, but she would not move on this decision. Given that the country was in a period of transition, she suggested that she would fly a plain white flag, as a sign of the peace. Amazingly Amy placed 4th – doing exactly this, which catapulted her into the middle of a media storm.
The next day her phone rang off the hook, with many people calling to criticise her decision. The International Press were fascinated by her resolve, and the local press were covering it too. After answering 60 calls she felt she couldn’t do another. Yet when the phone rang decided to take just one more, in case it was her family. Instead, when she picked up a man’s voice said ‘Hello Amy’.
That time was to change Amy’s life. ‘There I was this Cape Coloured girl who had just finished university, didn’t know where I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do. Then suddenly I had this platform from where I could fly.’
‘It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place the voice. He said “Amy I cannot believe that you as a young person did what you did for all of us last night. Us old boys get asked – do the young people know what you’ve done, the sacrifices you have made for them. You won’t reap the rewards, but the young will. And you know what you did, you showed that the youth of today know exactly what is coming. You give me such hope and I am so proud of what you did young lady, will you be my friend? I like to sit at a table with people like you” – it was Nelson Mandela himself and that is when I realised the significance of what I had done.’
Amy prepared a 3-page list of what she hoped to achieve during her reign and amazingly achieved all of it, from traveling to Egypt to going in a submarine and meeting Margaret Thatcher. ‘I have learnt that in life you need to write down and create a vision board, to manifest your dreams and make them happen. Everything is possible if you believe.’
Being Miss South Africa significantly changed Amy’s life and taught her incredible lessons, especially that we must know what we want to do with our life and feed into that with a long-term master plan. Amy decided to use her platform to touch more lives, influence more young people, specifically the youth in South Africa. ‘At the time the education department was going through a tough change and this is where I decided to place my focus’
Realising that all children need access to a tutor in the evenings to help them with their studies, especially those in far placed rural areas, and taking into account all the retired teachers sitting at home without work, in 2000 Amy established Dial-A-Teacher, a nationwide phone-in advisory service for pupils. Pursuing this dream, Dial-A-Teacher today services 350 000 children who call in for extra tutoring.
Recently driven to do something new, Amy has launched her Wellbox, a monthly subscription service where you get to choose quality wellness products and supplements that fit your lifestyle and get them delivered to your door, with her focus on bringing health to the broader South African community at an affordable rate.
Beyond the beautiful family home in Franschhoek, her and her husband also have a farm outside Swellendam where they produce pomegranates, pecan nuts and some very good wine. Here she works to uplift members of the the local farming communities.
Yet with all of this Amy’s primary role remains as mother and wife. Married to her sweetheart, businessman Leighton Curd that she met a week before the end of her Miss SA reign, she is the mother of four children. ‘I love being a mother, it keeps me grounded’ The country life suits her, the freedom of going for long walks and spending evenings on the lawns chatting with friends and family.
The legacy Amy would like to leave, especially for the modern women is that your background is your backbone. ‘Love where you are from and put back into your community. Be real with your children, put all the facades away when with your husband and be authentic, real and accountable to yourself.’ Certainly, all things that Amy lives by.
‘What does Cape Town mean to me? Capetonians have ‘fat souls and broad smiles’ she says. ‘I have yet to come across a more giving, forgiving, and happy people regardless of where they come from. The mountains, the sea and the farms all contribute to that. The beauty around us feeds into our souls, but it is the Capetonian people that are the heartbeat of this city. If you meet us, only if you meet us, do you understand what I’m talking about.’
A successful businesswoman, sought-after public speaker, philanthropist and brand spokesperson, Amy Kleinhans-Curd sits on the board of several international companies. Her background and tireless efforts in the field of education have transformed the lives of millions of children in South Africa.