Brad Patterson had the opportunity to catch up with up and coming model and philanthropist, Sasha Lee Taylor. Sasha is the author of the educational book series Learn to Read, Learn to Lead.

BP - We all know that the media doesn’t always get all their info correct, what is the strangest thing you have read about yourself that wasn’t true?

SLT - I’m quite fortunate that I haven’t experienced that yet, I think the worst that’s happened to me was my name being spelt incorrect and that was quite a few years ago. It might come in the future so I’ll have to keep a lookout in the media.

BP - Everybody starts their working careers off small, what was your very first job?

SLT - My first job is actually still my current job. I started just after I matriculated as a modelLing coach I think I only had like 6 students and I taught from a space in our garage. Later on I joined forces with the pageantry school that I currently run and manage (HMC Pageantry Academy) we now have two successful branches with one of the models I trained to win Miss Teen World in Turkey (Shikirah Roth) helping at one of the branches. I enjoy it so much I’m grateful to still be doing my first job.

BP - The modelling industry is a tough industry to break into. What encouraging words do you have for anyone with aspirations of being a successful model?

SLT - This is something I try teach my models and it goes for anyone wanting to start. Believe in yourself, be willing to work hard and don’t give up because of one bad outcome, perseverance is very important.

BP - In your line of work you get to meet a wide variety of people. Who was your most memorable?

SLT - Definitely Rolene Strauss, I had the opportunity to meet her when she came for the crowning of the next Miss SA after she won Miss World. Such a stunning and down to earth woman, she is truly an inspiration.

BP - I am sure you have encountered a few interesting star-struck fans along the way, what has been your favourite fan encounter?

SLT - My favorite encounters are always with children, the way a child’s face lights up when they see their “hero” is pure magic and brings me so much joy!

BP - Even the biggest stars have somebody they would love to meet, given the opportunity. Who would you like to meet?

SLT - I would love to meet Gary Player, his constant efforts to uplift and empower the youth through his golf programs by keeping children off the streets is something I look up to. I also wouldn’t mind getting a few golf tips!

BP - Now onto a more personal note for those super-fans out there> Where did you grow up, and what was it like growing up where you did?

SLT - I grew up in Helderkruin, Roodepoort. Loved every minute of it! I have the best childhood memories at home especially with my younger sister we were always playing outside when we were children.

BP - Everyone’s career goals changed and adapt as they grow, what did you see yourself becoming as a child? And, how much does it differ from your current career?

SLT - When I was younger I always wanted to either be a teacher or a radio presenter. I went in the complete opposite direction when studying as I did my Degree in Social Sciences, double majoring in Marketing and Psychology. My passion for education stayed with me though, hence the start of “Learn to Read, Learn to Lead”. The beauty of life is that you never know where it will take you, so maybe there’s still time for me to become a teacher or radio presenter!

BP - How has your success affected your personal life?

SLT - I am very grateful to have a wonderful support system of family and close friends. They all know my dreams and where I want to go and have stuck by me through all of it. I’m sure everyone’s personal and social life gets challenged once in a while during a career, but it’s how we overcome the challenges that matter.

BP - What has been your most challenging decision in your career thus far? What made it so challenging?

SLT - I think my most challenging decision was to start Learn to Read, Learn to Lead. A few years ago it was merely an idea, I knew I wanted to make a difference and education was always a passion of mine but I didn’t know how I was going to do it or whether it would work out. Those first few months were definitely challenging but I’m so proud of where it is today, I still have huge dreams for this project. I must say that I wouldn’t have overcome the challenges without my mom (Kim Taylor) and my younger sister (Savannah Taylor) who did the illustrations for the book.

BP - What has been your most memorable moment in your career thus far? What made it so memorable?

SLT - I think I can relate this question to the one above, because even though Learn to Read, Learn to Lead was challenging in the beginning the moment I got my hand on the first publication (an actual book, I was in awe, it’s a memory that will always stay with me). It was so memorable because of the idea behind the finished book - the idea that I would be able to share this with people to make a difference and help those who need the opportunity. I knew I had done the right thing and it gave me a much stronger drive and motivation to continue and dream even bigger. 

BP - Looking back in your life and career in the spotlight, how do you feel you have grown, changed, and evolved as a person?

SLT - As a child I grew up very shy and very bullied so the biggest thing that changed and evolved through my career was learning to believe in myself even when others don’t. Once you can believe in yourself you are already halfway to the top! I also came to realise that a positive attitude and a positive mindset are the best qualities someone can have.

BP - "Learn to Read, Learn to Lead" is an amazing and inspiring initiative. What was it that inspired you to start it?

SLT - I have always had a passion for education since a relatively young age actually, and Learn to Read, Learn to Lead was started when I saw that South Africa has quite a big educational gap, there are many children - even young adults who cannot read. One cannot be educated if they can’t read and I believe, like Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world” so I created this project for those especially in the rural areas that don’t get the opportunity to learn to read. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity and that’s what this is about. This project is all about giving back and helping those in need which is why 50% of the net profits is split equally to go to the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund and the Child Welfare Tswhane Fund, the rest of the profits go towards converting shipping containers into classrooms or libraries in areas that lack facilities. I would love for the community to get involved by purchasing a book by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BP - How does it feel to receive the Young Leader in Philanthropy Award?

SLT - I never started this project to receive recognition or awards but it was truly a huge honour to receive such a prestigious award. That will definitely remain one of my highlights in life for a long time. 

BP - With so much experience under your belt, what is next for Sasha-Lee Taylor to conquer?

SLT - To graduate is on the top of the list right now but I am also currently working on the second book for the Learn to Read, Learn to Lead project (yes there is more than one book). I’m hoping it will be out towards the end of March/April 2019. I have a few big things planned, so make sure you keep following!

BP - Everyone harbours a pet peeve. What is yours?

SLT - Lazy people who always make excuses and blame others. Nothing comes for free in life, you have to go out and get it and make the best of the process, that’s the only way you will get somewhere.

BP - Have you enjoyed this little interview?

SLT - I’ve absolutely loved it! Thank you for taking the time to interview me!

BP - Final Question. If you could choose any superhero to play on a big budget Hollywood production, who would you play?

SLT - I would choose to play Wonder Woman without a doubt! Not only does she have ridiculously cool powers but the perseverance, fearlessness and determination behind the character is brilliant and admirable.

Thank you very much for taking part in this interview. It has been a pleasure reading your responses and getting to know you just that little bit better. I, and your many fans, take great pleasure in learning more about you.

You can catch up with Sasha Lee on social media.