OUR theme this year — “Beauty Beyond You” — embodies the passion, dedication and spirit behind this competition, where young women from all over the country come together to showcase their incredible drive and determination to succeed, says Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation national director Datin Elaine Daly.
“This is more than a beauty pageant, I can assure you. It’s a life-changing platform, a stepping stone to greater heights, one that will open doors for these young women here to opportunities beyond their imagination. I’m eager to bring out the best in them, and lead them on this amazing path that I once walked on.”
Daly, the Miss Universe Malay-sia 2003, said she was honoured to have the opportunity to once again guide, mentor, groom and transform these girls into young women who are strong, confident and ready to take on the world.
“The journey will not be an easy one, and they will need to be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally.
“We’re thrilled to announce that this year, we will have the beautiful, talented and very fit Miss Universe Malaysia 2012, Kimberley Leggett, joining us as the host.
“We are also excited to have our title sponsor, Asia’s leading online boutique, Zalora, on board for the very first time.”
One of this year’s contestants, Shannen Jade Totten, 23, said: “My mother and I always watch the Miss Universe telecast and I especially admire the women who represent Malaysia.”
“When I revealed my plans to audition for Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 to my mum, she was ecstatic and gave her full support. She really motivated me to join the pageant and has been my biggest supporter.
“At times, I come off as a bit timid and would consider myself quite the introvert. But I’m coming out of my comfort zone with this pageant, learning a lot and growing as a woman. It can be a bit daunting with so many eyes on you and the criticism can be hard to swallow, but I take it constructively and always try to learn from every experience in life.”
As those before her, living without mobile phones was a strange and unnerving experience.
“When we were told that we would have our phones taken away throughout Boot Camp, I didn’t realise how attached I was to my gadget, especially since my birthday was during the Boot Camp and I was worried that I would miss my family. But after just the first day of getting to know the other finalists, it was actually really fun and I almost forgot that I didn’t have my phone with me.”
Medical student Mellisa Wong Yi Sheong, 22, joined the competition to realise her mother’s dream.
“She wanted to be a participant in a beauty pageant during her teenage years, but did not have the chance to. We have been watching different beauty pageants on the television and she always tells me that the winners always remind her of me.
“She tells me that I have the 3 Bs — beauty, brains and brawn — which she believes are traits of a beauty queen.
“I love diversity. However, I’d say my weakness would be picking things up at a moderate pace. Not too fast. Nevertheless, I’ll give my 100 per cent. As the saying goes — ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
“I live life without regrets and have not a single fear in going through this experience. I tell myself every day to take time to learn as many things as possible, as well as to allow myself to grow into a woman throughout this competition.”
For student and part-time model Teoh Jun Jane, 20, being a part of the contest is both an honour and responsibility.
“It helps me acquire the skills and recognition needed to be an influential figure. I’m a well-rounded person and I give 100 per cent in everything I do. On top of that, I adapt to different environments and personalities quickly. Working under pressure, a packed schedule and adapting to different personalities can be challenging at times, but I think I’m all good so far.
“But I demand too much of myself. I have the tendency to think that I’m inadequate. I always require myself to be up to par, that’s why I’m always pushing myself to reach greater heights. I’m afraid of being stagnant; it scares me and wears me out sometimes.”
Her biggest fear is losing herself in this whole process.
“I’m afraid that I’d be carried away by the attention — I would be too occupied with the idea of living up to people’s expectations of what I should be.
“My family is definitely with me in this. They were there when I had my first fashion show, they held me up when I was about to fall and I’m so grateful to have them with me the entire time. Their support has always been my motivation to push myself further in everything I do, to make sure I excel.”
For chemist, commercial model and aspiring actress Charlotte Tan, 24, pageantry is nothing new, as she was a participant in the Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant four years ago.
“I wasn’t ready then, but was lucky enough to be placed in the top 10. Miss Universe Malaysia is my next goal because it advocates a good cause; I’d like to champion the protection of the environment, young women and girls.
“I’m particularly concerned about the deforestation issue in Malaysia, which causes disasters such as floods and landslides. I hope to use this platform to raise public awareness about the environment.
“I also hope to encourage young women and girls to value themselves, to get educated with issues such as HIV awareness, because they are the ones who can contribute to lowering the risk of this disease.”
Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey are her biggest role models.
Out to prove that nothing is impossible in life is Kaayathri Pramasivam, 25.
“Although I’ve always wanted to be in the pharmaceutical line, I’ve never neglected my passion for modelling. I’ve always wanted to prove to myself that nothing is impossible and, lo and behold, here I am as one of the finalists.
“I believe confidence is my biggest strength; it has brought me this far and I’m sure I can grow further.”
Miss Universe Malaysia 2015 Vanessa Thevi is her role model.
“During her journey, she overcame all the obstacles that she faced and took the challenge to represent our country. Now, I’m the role model in my family, as the younger ones want to follow in my footsteps.
“Also, they encourage me to do better and pursue my dreams.”
Learning from her mistakes and knowing how to tackle curveballs are some of 23-year-old Nathasha Aprillia Jalius Benggon’s biggest strengths.
“My first role model in life is God, then, of course, my parents and family members because they’re always there for me when I need them. Because of them, I am inspired to make something of myself in the future and be an inspiration to others,” said the entrepreneur.