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…
Miss Venezuela 2016, Keysi Sayago has every good reason to smile these days!
After some uncertainty in her participation due to financial reasons, the Miss Venezuela organization has finally confirmed that she will be competing at Miss Universe in Las Vegas. The beauty queen has also said that, “I am very happy to know that Venezuela will be able to enjoy my participation in the Miss Universe through the Venevision channel and that without doubts, that I am with everything, for a new triumph for my beloved Venezuela.”
Snippets of a public statement of her participation posted in the MIss Venezuela social media as follows: During her reign Sayago has shown that besides beauty she has responsibility, discipline, commitment and a lot of social sensitivity, which undoubtedly makes her #OrgulloMissVenezuela and an exemplary representation of the Venezuelan woman. Keysi, knows the importance of learning, has therefore also strengthened her knowledge in different areas: public speaking, catwalk, English, makeup techniques and styling by the industry professionals such as: Juan Ramón Ramírez (Moncho), Elio Vásquez, Oskarosky Boyer, Luis Eduardo González… among other fundamental aspects to look and feel very good.
Keysi has participated in many activities alongside non-profit foundations and citizen initiatives, such as the Fundación Amigos del Niño con Cáncer, the Fundación Hospital Ortopédico Infantil and the Casa Hogar Madre Teresa de Calcuta to promote the work they do for the benefit of children and people in difficult situation. And also to raise their voice and invite fellow Venezuelans to be in solidarity despite difficulties. It is important to add that the volunteer work of Sayago has been constant along with citizen initiatives that seek to provide marginalized people with food and shelter.
Keysi will be flying to Las Vegas after she crowns her Miss Venezuela successor in November 9th.
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.
With the news that Miss Venezuela Keysi Sayago is likely not able to participate in Miss Universe this year, we ask if the MU franchise fee is too expensive to pay for this pageant powerhouse?
It is said that the Miss Universe pageant franchise varies from country to country. Smaller countries who have little competition in their hometown for a rival pageant could pay around US$ 10,000 for the annual fee. And if a country wins the MU title, they are exempt from paying the franchise fee the subsequent year.
In the Philippines, BPCI through its Chairperson Stella Marquez Araneta has a stable cash cow with the annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant thus is able to pay off the annual franchise fee. The BPCI stalwart has been able to manage 50 years of holding the franchise with her ability to manage the funds of the pageant. Pageant insiders has it that by the late 2000’s, the Philippines pays around US$ 40,000 annually. Rumored updated figures have it now between US$ 50,000- 60,000.
During Mariangel Ruiz’ time the Venezuelan franchise was only around US$ 70,000.00 to 80,000. And she too had the misfortune of almost not being able to be sent to MU, until other countries stepped in to pay the lacking amount. But that was in 2003, recent reports say that the Venezuelan franchise fee is currently around US$ 100,000. However, some pageant insiders estimates that it could be more and we may be looking at a figure between US$ 120,000- 150,000.
Those amounts seem to be too exorbitant compared to the annual US$ 10,000 franchise fees for Miss World. But that comes with a catch, each national organization has to select a national winner in a separate beauty pageant. And we know how extremely difficult it is to set up two national pageants for MW and MU. Just ask Osmel how the Miss World Venezuela is less spectacular than the Miss Venezuela pageant itself. That is altogether a different expense that could impound to a struggling national pageant.
Although the exact figures are unconfirmed, we are looking at huge amounts of money being spent annually. So can we truly grasp the enormity of Venezuela’s situation. They are currently under huge socio-political-economic crisis. Pageants might not be their priority for now…
According to an article by tvynovelas.com, Miss Venezuela Keysi Sayago would not be competing in Miss Universe this year as MVOrg could not come up with the necessary franchise fee for her participation.
The article reads:
“For the first time since the 1952 World Beauty Fair began, Venezuela may not send a representative to it… Keysi Sayago, the current Miss Venezuela and to represent the country in Miss Universe 2017, was selected on October 6 of last year and has since been preparing for international competition.
The big problem is that so far, the Miss Venezuela Organization has not been able to pay the annual franchise fee required by the Miss Universe Organization to accept its candidate…
Sayago hopes that the money will still be collected and her dreams of representing her country in Miss Universe can be fulfilled. And is that in the history of Miss Venezuela there is a similar antecedent that had a happy ending.
In 2003 Mariangel Ruiz was informed that she would not go to the international competition because the national organization could not pay the annuity. The girl did not give up and continued with her training. At the last minute they managed to raise the $ 70,000 needed at that time and Ruiz was able to join the contest.”
While not all hopes is lost, we can only wish that some miracle will happen for Venezuela to be able to participate this year…
A couple of weeks ago I posted a write up about three pageant powerhouses (Venezuela, USA and the Philippines) and how they are gearing up for the upcoming international pageant scene. This led me to ask if are they also the early Miss Universe frontrunners?
Rachel Peters, 5’10”, 25 years old – the proverbial beach babe, the girl with the bangin’ body and the “easy to get along with’ attitude. But don’t let that fool you. With her work as an events organizer reveals a sense of discipline and professionalism. She even has worked with superstars like Katy Perry, Jessie J and Christina Aguilera under that capacity. Not to mention that she completed her International Baccalaureate at the British School in Phuket, Thailand and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Business, Tourism and Events from La Trobe University in Australia.
Keysi Sayago, 5’10”, 23 years old – the Miss Venezuela mold breaker. Being one of the only three women of color to win the Miss Venezuela title is surely a conversation starter. Then add to it her open involvement in protests for better governance, rallies against violence and economic injustices in her homeland. Surely you get not your typical Miss Venezuela winner who are trained to be politically neutral. Keysi seemingly is the type of girl that would do good with the title and use it to speak out for her chosen advocacies.
Kara McCullough, 5’10”, 25 years old – the nuclear scientist. She is the girl with the ‘heavy resume’, the girl with the proverbial brains and beauty. Kara represents the type of woman that the Miss Universe organization is looking for. Relatable, real and with accomplishments that can propel the organization towards a more modern definition of a pageant girl.
It is no coincidence that these three ladies represent the countries with the most number of alpha pageant crowns. With pageant training as hardcore as that of an Olympic sport it would not be a hardsell to have all of them in the top 3 of Miss Universe. They may just redefine the Miss Universe title and make it modern and more relevant to this day and age…
While the international pageant season is yet to arrive (starts during the ‘Ber months), we list down the ladies who are currently the most visible frontrunners and/or darkhorses in the competition. We have included in this list national winners from countries that have yet to name if their main girl is competing for Miss Universe or Miss World.
Australia, Olivia Molly Rogers – 25 years old, 5’8″ tall, a speech pathologist by profession. She is one of the girls with a beefy resume.
Colombia, Laura González Ospina – 22 years old, 5’9 3/4″ tall, one of the most facially arresting girls this year. She speak English, French and Spanish.
France, Alicia Aylies – 19 years old, 5’11” tall, a woman of color to win her country’s nationals. This curly haired beauty from French Guiana is confirmed to represent her count at MU this year.
Mexico, Denisse Franco – 19 years old, 5’10” tall, she is perhaps one of the top contenders this year.
Philippines, Rachel Louise Peters – 25 years old, 5’10” tall, one of the more well-rounded girls sent by the Philippines in recent years. This events organizer and self confessed beach bum surely is a darkhorse.
Puerto Rico, Danyeshka Hernández – 19 years old, 5’9″ tall, she is a student currently pursuing Public Relations and Marketing studies. Interesting to note that she is also a pageant veteran.
Russia, Polina Popova – 22 years old, 5’11” tall, the first blonde Miss Russia winner in years. She can surely make the cut if the basis is pure beauty alone.
South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – 22 years old, 5’7″ tall, she is supposed to represent her country on both MU and MW pageants. Despite being the shortest in this list, she has one of the facially gorgeous girls in this list.
USA, Kara McCullough – 25 years old, 5’11” tall, the girl with the heaviest of resumes. Kara could potentially be the benchmark that all other girls would have to measure up to in MU this year.
Venezuela, Keysi Sayago – 23 years old, 5’11” tall, the one of the MV mold breakers and could be rewarded in MU for that. Her being the 3rd woman of color to win MV could help to her advantage.
We are yet to find out the reps for other heavy hitters like Brazil, Great Britain, Jamaica and Thailand, among others. We are still awaiting for the transformation to be seen on other countries’ reps that were already crowned like those from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sweden.