Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 Kiran Jassal (left) crowning Samantha Katie James as Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 in Kuala Lumpur. PIC BY AZIAH AZMEE
Samantha Katie James

It took two tries, but Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Samantha Katie James is determined to do her country proud by showcasing our local culture and talent. She talks to Audrey Vijaindren about her journey to fame

Q: Has the reality that you are a contender for the Miss Universe 2017 crown sunk in yet? What were your first emotions?

A: Although this was my second attempt, I thought that first-runner up Dana Low would win. She picked-up things really quickly and I really wanted to be like her. When they announced my name, I was in utter shock. But because I had envisioned wearing the crown since I joined the pageant, I knew and believed that positive affirmation is truly the way to go.

Q: What are some of your fears/concerns/reservations about representing your country at the finale?

A: I’m more concerned about the question-and-answer session than anything else. Because I’m into modelling and acting, I’m very comfortable with makeup and the catwalk. But, I do fear that I may freeze when thrown questions.

Q: What do you have to bring to the pageant that will get us closer to the crown?

A: I’ve been through a crazy journey in life. I was bullied in school, sent to live with different families and have travelled the world as a model. I’ve never met my father and I hope to be someone the younger generation can relate to. I am far from perfect, but I want to share my story and share how I overcame obstacles in my life to get to where I am today.

Q: Who is your role model and why?

A: I really look up to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. She always has a smile on her face and is not afraid to go after what she wants. She is also very determined and helps the less fortunate.

Q: Who has been your inspiration throughout this journey?

A: I would have to say, my school friends. They’ve been with me through thick and thin. They know my weaknesses and strengths.

Besides that, the other contestants were my inspiration. They were all unique and they inspired me to do something different. Each of them taught me something. I picked up bits and pieces from everyone.

Q: How do you stay fit?

A: I adhere to a very strict diet and I exercise every day. Basically, I take zero carbohydrates at night. I even stopped eating meat a year ago and am planning to stop eating seafood soon. I don’t take sugar or fruits at night. I take protein powder because I work out a lot.

Q: Many Malaysians are still under the impression that beauty pageants are irrelevant, unnecessary and superficial. What do you have to say to them?

A: Pageants are a great platform for women to show that they are powerful and capable of reaching greater heights. There used to be stereotypes of what a queen should look like, but that’s changing. It’s not about a certain look, weight or height.

I want to be an example to younger women, to show them that you should never give up and if you lose, try again. That’s why I’m here today.

Q: How do you define beauty?

A: Beauty is what shines from within; it lies in someone seeing the good side of others. Instead of complaining about why this and that happened, she must be a good person from inside.

Q: Malaysia has not made it to the top 10 in a long time. Why do you think that is?

A: I believe sometimes you really don’t know what the judges are looking for. But the best you can do is to be a good ambassador for your country in any situation you’re in. I plan to expose other contestants to our diverse culture and values.

Q: What do you plan to pursue after the international pageant next year?

A: I will continue with modelling and acting. My ultimate goal is to win an Oscar.

But eventually, I hope to have many kids and enjoy being a mother.

I suppose because of the challenging childhood I had, I want to enjoy a family life.

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