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Catherine Constantinides ?“We need to teach people to dream and to hope because it’s only when members of society believe in something greater than the circumstances they found themselves in, they become active citizens that achieve change.”

On 4 October 2015 on SABC 3 at 19h27, the acclaimed short-film series 21 ICONS will feature the fifth icon of its third season: international climate activist, social entrepreneur and food security advocate, Catherine Constantinides. The former Miss Earth is also a passionate humanitarian who has worked throughout Africa and across the world championing human rights issues and empowering women.

As a ‘voice’ of young South Africa, and the executive director of Lead SA and an Archbishop Tutu African Oxford Fellow she ensures that the continent is included in global conversations regarding the development of Africa and improving the lives of the broader community.


21 ICONS traces South Africa’s history over the course of its three seasons, moving from the fight for freedom to the country’s growth during democracy, and concluding with a vision of the future. 21 ICONS is a celebration of individuals who inspire multitudes through their impact, integrity and influence.

As a world-class communicator of powerful stories, 21 ICONS uses photography, film and narrative to showcase the pivotal moments of South Africa’s nation-building journey.

Young South African talent Gary van Wyk (34) will step up as principal photographer for the third season. In previous seasons, Van Wyk has been a crucial part of 21 ICONS camera work, visually recording the nuances and intimate moments of each shoot in his distinctive reporting style. Adrian Steirn, who conceived the project, continues his involvement capturing the behind-the-scenes images.


This season has been envisaged as a tribute to the country’s future, shedding the spotlight on youth icons all under the age of 35. Their energy and drive has been captured in coloured portraits; a major departure from previous seasons which featured black-and-white fine arts portraits

Constantinides has been selected for 21 ICONS South Africa Season III for the establishment of numerous community outreach projects aimed at driving climate change as well as starting initiatives that show the way forward for the next generation to aspire to be socially conscious and active citizens.

She has travelled across the world promoting sustainable community development, social entrepreneurship and food security through Generation Earth, of which she is the co-founder, an international youth leadership initiative that engages students and learners to discuss sustainable development, low carbon futures and resource management specifically in Africa.


The Miss Earth South Africa leadership programme aims to empower young South African women by providing a platform to create a sustainable difference and combat the destruction of our country’s natural heritage through education and awareness.

She says, “I’m driven by a passion to empower women through the environment and conservation to take on larger roles in their communities. Those women are the pillars in our communities, they’re the women that stand up and understand that they are the pivotal change makers.”

During a portrait sitting, Constantinides tells Van Wyk how her roots have always been firmly entrenched in a passion for the protection of our environment and the development of Africa. As a budding social entrepreneur she started her own eventing, branding and marketing business at the age of 16 in order to create awareness for social and environmental issues in South Africa.

She reflects how she had her sights on becoming South Africa’s first female president. At the age of six she wrote numerous letters to President Nelson Mandela and after many months of writing received a series of responses from the desk of the President. She eventually met with Madiba and she indicates that her engagements with him had a major influence and impact on her life.

The film gives an insightful and inspiring glimpse into her role as an ambassador for climate change and food security as well as the early influences that shaped her understanding of the importance of nature.

She says, “If we don’t invest in looking after our natural heritage, our children and our grandchildren will suffer. We must protect the environment for the generations that we’ll never meet.”

For the portrait Force of Nature’ which will appear digitally on the Tuesday after her short-film is released, Van Wyk describes the visual elements, “Inspired by her passion for the environment and the work she does to highlight women’s contributions in the conservation space, the portrait is set on Llandudno Beach in Cape Town. A wreath of indigenous flowers encircling her head, Constantinides is photographed surrounded by the very ecosystem she fights to protect.”

On the future of South Africa, she comments, “We can each be a building block to the kind of South Africa we believe is possible if we all live as active citizens, every single day.”


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