The model-cum-actress wants to bring love back into the conversation through her journey on the dating show.
Being first comes naturally to Qiniso Van Damme. A fan favourite on season two of “The Bachelor SA”, she was the first to step onto the red carpet and greet the ruggedly handsome, Marc Buckner. She also got the first kiss on the show.
While she was eliminated in the Top 6 stage – the journey is not over.
We chatted days after M-Net announced her as “The Bachelorette SA” and she was on cloud nine.
“It’s been, ‘Wow’. I’m also trying to absorb the information as everyone else,” she admitted.
Born to a Belgian father and a mother, who is half Swazi and half Zulu, Van Damme is proud of her roots.
On being chosen for the new reality show, she enthused: “Yassss, Queen, we out here.”
“It is a huge deal for me because when you are growing up and you are a brown girl and you don’t see Disney princesses that are brown or brown girl love stories being central in the media or in anything, you kind of feel like, ‘Okay, there is no place for me here’.
“I really feel like in me sharing my story, sharing my journey, sharing my love story with everyone, those little girls out there will feel like, you know what, I’m not going to settle.
“And people my own age will be like, ‘Hey, let’s kickstart my love journey again. Let’s start believing in love, again, during this hopeless time’.”
She added: “I want to bring love back into our conversations.”
The 20-something model and actress has two degrees under her belt and is currently completing her Masters in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.
Adventurous and outgoing, Van Damme is also fluent in isiZulu, isiSwati and isiXhosa.
On what she learned from her experience on “The Bachelor SA”, Van Damme shared: “I went into the experience with the mindset of I know what I want, I know who I am and I know this person could be for me, let me give it a go. And that surety definitely dwindled over a couple of days. So it really challenged and tested me.”
The biggest takeaway, though, is her growth.
“You know what, I realised it’s good to be kind. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to be bubbly and loud and maybe this man might not be the one for you, but that’s okay.
“We thank people for stopping by on our love journeys. We thank them for the lessons they taught us. Before I was sure but now I’m extremely certain, I know what I want.”
On what SA’s hunky hopefuls can expect, she offered: “I have no plan. I’m just going to be myself.
“Be as honest with my feelings and as honest I can be with the gentlemen, who are pausing their lives to be on this journey.
“I’m going to approach it the same way as I did on ’The Bachelor SA’. Just be myself and open my heart.
“My name is Qiniso, which means truth. My mom named me the truth because she felt I was a true representation of what love between cultural lines can look like.
“Being mixed race, my whole life I’ve been exposed to how love can happen in different ways. I’m just looking for my person. Be they Korean, Ghanian or Afrikaans South African… if I fall in love with the person, I fall in love with that person.”
*“The Bachelorette SA” will debut on M-Net (DStv channel 101) early next year.