Feb. 14, 2013 — -- Reeva Steenkamp hit the headlines in America today as the alleged murder victim of her boyfriend, Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius -- but in her homeland of South Africa, she already was known as a top model, a men's magazine cover girl, an activist and a budding reality show star.
Asked to describe herself in three words, Steenkamp chose the words "brainy, blonde, bombshell," according to the website of "Tropika Island of Treasure 5," the reality show on which she was going to be featured starting this weekend.
"She was definitely destined for success," her publicist, Sarit Tomlinson of Capacity Relations, told the BBC. "She was a gorgeous girl both inside and out, and also had a brain. ... She had an incredible entrepreneurial spirit.
"She was an absolute angel -- the sweetest, sweetest human being, kind human being," she told the BBC. "It's very, very sad."
Steenkamp, who police said was 30 but was listed in profiles as 29, burned up social media, describing herself on Instagram as a "cover girl, law graduate, Instagram fanatic," and on Twitter as a "child of God."
"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay," she tweeted Wednesday, perhaps referring to her boyfriend, Pistorius -- though maybe not.
She had plans to celebrate Valentine's Day this morning by giving a motivational speech to high schoolers in Johannesburg about love, valuing themselves and following their dreams, according to reports.
"I've realized that although Valentine's Day can be a cheesy, money-making stint to most people, it's a day of expressing love across the world," she told the South African celebrity site ZAlebs Wednesday, purportedly just hours before her death. "It doesn't have to only be between lovers, but by telling a friend that you care, or even an old person that they are still appreciated."
Browse through her Instagram account and you'll discover a trove of snapshots documenting vivid moments in the life of a young woman who brought smiles to the faces of those around her.
She was an advocate against violence against women, posting an image of a woman with a hand over her face and the caption, "I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA. RIP Anene Booysen. #rape #crime #sayNO."
Steenkamp encouraged her thousands of followers on Twitter to fight against sexual abuse, re-tweeting the day before she died, "WEAR BLACK THIS FRIDAY IN SUPPORT AGAINST #RAPE AND WOMAN ABUSE #BLACKFRIDAY."
She showed her religious side by offering this poem on Instagram on Jan. 29:
I need you. Everyday,
Every moment, Every second
that I breathe, I need you.
I am not strong enough on my own.
"He is listening," read one of the dozen responses to the post - mostly from today. "RIP dear."
Steenkamp was pronounced dead this morning in Pistorius' gated, luxury home in Pretoria, South Africa, with four gunshot wounds to her head and upper body. Pistorius, 26, has been charged with murder.
"I must just say that her future has been cut short," Mike Steenkamp, Reeva Steencamp's uncle, told the Associated Press. "The family at the moment, Barry and June, are devastated."
A South African native, Steenkamp was born in Cape Town and moved to the seaside city of Port Elizabeth as a child.
Her father, Barry Steenkamp, was a famous horse trainer, according to published reports.
Later in life, she graduated with a law degree from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Steenkamp was tapped to be the first face of Avon South Africa and moved to Johannesburg six years ago.
Steenkamp, a blue/green-eyed blonde, was 5-foot-7, according to her agency, Ice Model Management. That is short by modeling standards, but it did not hinder her determination or her success.
Her career as a professional model blossomed and in December 2011, she was featured on the cover of the South African edition of FHM magazine. She was named one of the magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running.
FHM in South Africa issued the following statement in response to her death:
"FHM was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic passing of FHM cover girl Reeva Steenkamp. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends during this difficult and painful time. FHM knew Reeva as a beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted woman who was a joy to work with and everyone at FHM mourns her untimely passing. May she rest in peace."
In addition to modeling, Steenkamp was picked as a celebrity contestant on "Tropika Island of Treasure 5." The show involves both celebrities and ordinary individuals who compete in daily challenges that take place in remote and exotic locations.
"With a background in TV presenting, once the live roaming presenter for FashionTV in South Africa, Reeva is currently working on some major projects that include smaller TV roles as well as a lead in a new reality TV show," the show said on its website. "Reeva has a passion for cars and cooking and prefers to read a book on her off days and spend quality time with friends and family."
Mike Steenkamp reflected on his niece and her killing to The Associated Press.
"How it pans out at the end of the day, we will all know the story, the true story," he said. "But we must never forget what Reeva stood for. She loved people, she loved everybody, and it was her heart that went out."