As mentioned in previous post, there is a lot to cover this year despite to what feels like a rushed Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.
Continental Selection of Semi-finalists – I have a feeling that this “gimmick” will only last a year or two. Specially with the backlash that the pageant has received. What I do not like about this is how heavily unbalanced the groupings were with several weak Europeans making it into the list over girls like Misses Panama, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, Korea, Cambodia, Tanzania, and Mauritius. The selection seemed uneven as it left other more worthy competitors in favor of a more “equally diverse selection of semi-finalists“. This novelty in MU is something that Miss Earth and Miss Intercontinental has done more successfully in their pageants. Pageant fans of ME deem it as a copycat move by MU. The idea is good, the execution though is sloppy.
Another thing, why can’t the MU award the ladies that won Miss Congeniality and Best in National costume onstage as it used to? It was a disservice to Panama that she didn’t have her time at the limelight onstage just like Japan’s win for Best National Costume.
The Top 10 & Top 5 Finalists – IMHO I felt like Miss Philippines Rachel Peters should have been in the top 5, I thought she delivered in the evening gown competition. I believe that three strong communicators (Philippines, USA and Canada) were purposely left behind because it would spell doom for a couple of favorites. They would have definitely made it harder for the top 5 to make top 3.
I was glad that Jamaica’s Davina Bennett made top 5 as she was the only black girl to be called. Davina was one of the strongest girls in the interviews and nailed it every time she spoke. The mulatta Keysi Sayago added variety in a decidedly Caucasian-looking top 5. She added lots of energy and fire and I personally prefer her to make top 3 than Colombia. Laura, however, delivered a stronger answer with conviction than Keysi that allowed her to take the lead. It was a disappointment to see Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren of Thailand to choke the Q&A. I thought that she had one of the easy questions that night which was quite similar to Maxine Medina’s question last MU in January. Demi-Leigh delivered a solid performance at the Q&A as expected.
Miss Universe Runners Up– what is it about Jamaica that the MU doesn’t seem to give high placements to their girls despite performing well in the final Q&A? This happened with Yendi, Kaci and now Davina. I have no issues with Laura placing higher than Davina, though I believe that Davina delivered a much more meaningful, compassionate and heartfelt response to the question. And yes, there were boos because people in the theatre felt that she deserved to be in the top 2.
Guess what? The candidates split themselves in congratulating Demi versus Davina. Davine seemed to get the larger chunk of well-wishers. This is exactly the scenario in 2014 with Kasi Fennell. Davina was also given by the crowd a huge wave of cheers when she stood onstage for a moment. Now that is a queenly treatment! Seems like had the candidates been allowed to cast their votes for a winner, they would have hands down chosen Jamaica. That would have changed the game entirely and perhaps to Davina’s favor. IMHO, I believed that Jamaica should have ended with a top 2 finish.
I believe that the only reason perhaps that she ended up on 3rd place was because Laura and Demi were more “commercial and marketable” in terms of their beauty. Demi owned the night, and the multiple videos showcasing her was evidence of that. She delivered consistently throughout the evening but Davina and Laura gave her a run for her money.
Here is Sashes&Scripts’ second leaderboard. If you wanna check the previous one, just click on this link…
The DELTAS – these girls could be the girls that can steal the thunder away from any of the frontrunners in Miss Universe 2017. Watch out for them as they can do some heavy damage come pageant season.
* Carmen Munoz, Dominican Republic
* Frida Maria Fornander, Sweden
* Ruth Quashie, Ghana
* Olivia Molly Rogers, Australia
The BETAS – although not getting more buzz online as the Alphas, the venom from these contenders are just as equally potent. These girls are the ones with huge meaty resumes and backstories that could propel them into the semis.
* Davina Bennett, Jamaica
* Alicia Aylies, France
* Monalysa Alcantara, Brazil
* Keysi Sayago, Venezuela
* Arna Yr, Iceland
* Kara McCullough, USA
The ALPHAS – these are the girls that are expected to do well in the pageant. It is almost an certainty that they would survive the first cut by mere online media buzz. But they shouldn’t be let up as their comfortable lead can easily be overturned by a number of equally deserving girls.
* Bunga Jelitha Ibrani, Indonesia
* Rachel Peters, Philippines
* Denisse Franco, Mexico
* Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, South Africa
* Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren, Thailand
* Laura Gonzalez, Colombia
There is a number of movers and new additions in this leaderboard. Those in the list are some of the girls that are being talked about online and whose socmed presence is being monitored by fans and pageant connoisseurs alike.
One of the most common observations pageant connoisseurs and insiders have been asking lately regarding Miss Universe is it more concerned in the importance of a meaty resume and background stories rather than just selecting the most beautiful girl in the universe?
Arna Yr Jonsdottir– this athlete from Iceland is surely gonna be a MU favorite as she is a victim of the current “it word” in Hollywood: body shaming. Being called to trim down in the middle of a beauty pageant by its owner would definitely give her media mileage in Las Vegas. And if Ashley Graham is gonna co-host, then expect Arna to have extra airtime on TV.
Davina Bennett – a true survivor of sorts, after multiple rejections as a model, a mugging days before her birthday and loosing a dear grandparent while being away from her country yet made her way to win Miss Jamaica. Add to that, she also founded the Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf. Now that is a resume every pageant girls would be envious of.
Carmen Munoz – in terms of meaty resume, Dominican Republic’s lawyer-slash-beauty queen Carmen Munoz isn’t about to get left behind. This pageant girl has been part of a team who wrote legislation for her country. Who could beat that achievement? And it her being a lawyer would definitely help in the crucial interview rounds.
Kara McCullough – it was shoved in everybody’s throats that this gorgeous lady from DC is a nuclear physicist. And surely that card will be played over and over again come Miss Universe season.
Keysi Sayago – nothing beats a Cinderella story of being able to go to the ball, just ask Mariangel Ruiz. Keysi was earlier said that she wouldn’t be able to compete due to financial difficulties of the org to come up with the national franchise fee. Now she is all set to compete in Las Vegas who will be eager to know more of her views on the political and economic unrest in her home country.
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – this petite 5’7″ stunner survived a mugging in London earlier this year. Not only that, since winning the Miss South Africa title she has been plagued by numerous issues: from pageant rigging to the glove use in a charity mission. Surely this lady will be getting tons of attention in Miss Universe.
Rachel Peters – grew up in different parts of the world, living independently as a self-made entrepreneur and yes she is also a double degree holder (according to an ABS-CBN report). She spent portions of her life in Thailand, Australia, UK and the Philippines, where she opened up a cafe in Siargao, Camarines Sur. Not surprising as she is a self-confessed beach lover.
These are just some of the “girls with a story to tell”. Surely there are more to be unveiled later…
Nowadays winning Miss Universe is more than just good looks. It takes guts and grit, not to mention personal advocacies and community work. Nowadays, you cannot be Miss Universe if you stand on beauty alone…
This list is gonna cause some uproar among pageant fans as it names several less popular girls. But hey, Sashes&Scripts has been into hot water before for previous lists so this won’t be something new. One thing I can guarantee is that this list is gonna be a diverse set of countries and names… after all, isn’t #diversity something that WME|IMG’s Miss Universe has been trying so hard to show up on our faces in the past couple of years…
Now on to the list…
1. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, South Africa
2. Laura Gonzalez, Colombia
3. Rachel Louise Peters, Philippines
4. Kara McCullough, USA
5. Alicia Aylies, France
6. Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren, Thailand
7. Ruth Quashie, Ghana
8. Olivia Molly Rogers, Australia
9. Monalysa Alcantara, Brazil
10. Denisse Franco, Mexico
11. Davina Bennett, Jamaica
12. Kseniya Alexandrova, Russia
13. Frida Maria Fornander, Sweden
14. Keysi Sayago, Venezuela
15. Samantha Katie James, Malaysia
This list features a diverse set of women of color (blondes, brunettes, ebony-skinned beauties, mixed race Asians, latinas), from different parts of the world (3 Europeans, 3 Asians, 2 Africans, 3 from North America & the Caribbean, 3 from South America and one from the Land Down Under), of different backgrounds and occupations. And the surprising part of it is that I didn’t set out to create such a diverse list, it just came out organically that way. This must be the work of the mind conditioning that the MU has been showcasing for years now.
Another curly-haired, bronze-skinned beauty has been selected to represent her country in Miss Universe this year! 23-year-old beauty Davina Bennett was crowned as winner of the Miss Universe Jamaica pageant held last August 26th.
Standing tall at 5’9 1/2″, Davina is a survivor having been diagnosed with a ruptured ovarian cyst at the young age of 21. On top of that, she tried three times to go international with her modelling career with no success. It was also during that time that she lost her grandmother while being away from her home. She also survived a mugging two days before her birthday, where she was robbed of her belongings and was held up with a gun. Despite that she still was able to find good in life.
In an interview with the Jamaican Observer, she says “I have been through a lot of struggles, but I worked really hard and just to see that it has all paid off feels great. It is really a blessing and I am really grateful to all my supporters. Fashion modelling was not really going my way, so I decided to take another route to get my voice and message out there. I see the Miss Universe platform as being a great way to spread the word about my foundation for the deaf.” The Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf aims to transform how deaf persons are perceived and integrated into society.
Davina is an interesting subject to write and talk about. I am positively sure that she will be bringing much more than just mere good looks into the Miss Universe pageant. So keep an eye on this lady, my gut tells me that she will be up there among the semi-finalists this year…