When Zozibini Tunzi moved into the Midtown condominium the place Cheslie Kryst was dwelling final December, some roommate rigidity may need been anticipated.
Ms. Tunzi — on the time the reigning Miss South Africa — had simply overwhelmed Ms. Kryst — the reigning Miss USA — within the Miss Universe pageant. The rival magnificence queens have been to be roommates for the subsequent six months, till a new Miss USA was topped in May 2020.
The setup definitely had the potential for awkwardness, if not outright animosity. But the condominium — a sprawling three-bedroom, three-bathroom in a luxurious doorman constructing close to Central Park South — was too good to go up. Pageant winners reside there for a yr rent-free (or a yr and a half, if Miss USA wins Miss Universe), and weekly housekeeping and grocery bills are additionally lined. (Both pageants are run by the Miss Universe Organization.)
Ms. Kryst, who moved into the condominium after she received the Miss USA title in May 2019, wasn’t apprehensive. In school, she was usually buddies along with her track-and-field rivals. Besides, the ladies journey extensively throughout their yearlong reigns. “I barely ever saw my last roommate in the last seven months. I think we went out together for dinner five or six times,” Ms. Kryst mentioned.
“Of course, if I knew about the pandemic, I would have been much more stressed,” she added.
When coronavirus hit, each girls’s busy journey schedules got here to an abrupt halt and their roster of worldwide appearances turned digital. In the primary few weeks of the pandemic, they went from barely being within the condominium to barely leaving it.
“We would just go and walk in the park for hours. We were too scared to do anything else,” Ms. Kryst mentioned. “I would wear gloves to the grocery store.”
The Miss USA 2020 pageant has been postponed till later this yr, which means that Ms. Kryst will retain her tiara, her room and her roommate till organizers decide that it’s secure to maintain the competitors once more. The identical goes for Ms. Tunzi, because the Miss Universe pageant has been postponed indefinitely.
Fortunately, whereas the 2 girls hadn’t spent a lot time collectively within the months main up to the shutdown, they’d loved each other’s firm after they did.
“I don’t want to lie — you do worry about having an unpleasant person as a roommate,” Ms. Tunzi mentioned. “But we got along at the pageant and I knew that if I won, my roommate would be Cheslie. Whereas she could have had 90 different people.”
“I was happy that it was Zozi,” Ms. Kryst mentioned. “People handle competition in different ways. Some people are outgoing, some people are quiet. Zozi and me are both chill. We liked to be together in the formations. After I didn’t make top five, I was like, ‘Let it be Zozi.’ ”
“She’s the best roommate ever,” Ms. Tunzi mentioned. “Also, I’m a bit messy.”
“I’ve lived with much messier people,” Ms. Kryst mentioned. “I have four little brothers. She’s not that bad.”
Both girls lived alone earlier than transferring into the condominium. Ms. Kryst, 29, a civil litigation lawyer, had a loft in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Ms. Tunsi, 27, who had been interning at an promoting agency in Cape Town, had by no means lived with anybody who wasn’t a member of the family.
$zero | Midtown
Zozibini Tunzi, 27, and Cheslie Kryst, 29
Occupation: Ms. Tunzi is Miss Universe; Ms. Kryst is Miss USA.
Suitcase storage: Is a difficulty, regardless of the condominium’s giant dimension and the various closets. Each lady has quite a few suitcases since a lot of the job often entails lengthy journeys and plenty of costume adjustments. Traveling with a number of robes and a suitcase only for sneakers will not be uncommon.
Where do they preserve their crowns? Ms. Tunzi prefers to retailer hers on the close by Miss Universe places of work, however Ms. Kryst retains hers on the evening stand. “It’s a Mikimoto tiara, which is one of the most iconic designs,” she mentioned. “It’s embarrassing, but I like to wake up and look at it.”
Ms. Tunzi and pageants: “At 7, my mom took me to this pageant at church. I was really shy, she wanted me to meet other young girls. But then I loved it, the feeling of making friends and then the confidence of walking onstage.”
Ms. Kryst and pageants: “My mom was the second Black Mrs. North Carolina, so I knew no matter what, I was going to compete. I started when I was 13 or 14, in high school.”
The condominium’s dimension, they agree, makes sharing it comparatively simple. Both have been stunned at how giant the house was the primary time they noticed it.
“Before I came to New York, everyone told me things are really small; even the hotel rooms are like shoe boxes,” Ms. Tunzi mentioned. “I walked in and was like, ‘This is a huge space.’ ”
“You think of New York as being 300-square-foot apartments, but this is massive,” Ms. Kryst mentioned. “With the pandemic, you get to the point where you want to be outside, but I have my own room, I have my own bathroom, we have an extra bedroom.”
The third bed room, which is reserved for Miss Teen USA when she visits the town, has turn into a work house — the closet is nice for recording voice-overs — as has the lounge. They had used the lounge sparingly earlier than, as a place to catch up between work journeys, however they now shoot all their movies there; there’s even a teleprompter nook.
Unlike most individuals working from dwelling nowadays, the ladies nonetheless spend a lot of time preparing for work — a Zoom shirt will not suffice for a Miss Universe appearance. But even they have been able to relax things a little bit.
“If you’re doing your hair to go somewhere, it has to be really on point. On camera it’s not quite as hard,” Ms. Kryst said. “And probably the strangest thing is that I haven’t worn shoes — heels — in a really long time.”
When they do go out, it’s often to Central Park. They like to walk through the park to get banana pudding at the Magnolia Bakery on the Upper West Side. The pandemic has meant not only getting to know the city better than they otherwise would have — “Before, people would be like, ‘What’s your favorite thing to do in New York and I was like, ‘I don’t know. I’m at the airport,” Ms. Tunzi said — but also each other.
“We’ve talked about Covid, Black Lives Matter,” Ms. Kryst said. “I think us being both women of color, having a real sister in the house, we understand the impact that being a person of color has on the titleholder. When we won we both had to face unkind comments.”
They had been talking about going to a Black Lives Matter protest together when, on a walk to Central Park, they bumped into one and joined in. “It was really cool to go to one with someone who valued it as much as I did,” Ms. Kryst said. “She knows we’re in this together.”