CB: What prompted you to be interested in pageants, and how did your interest in pageants prompt you to acquire the Fiji franchise of Miss World?
I was always fascinated by beauty pageants since age 5. My first witness to watching a beauty pageant was in 1984 - the year Vanessa Williams won Miss America. Since than, I developed a deep passion for this industry not only because of the glamor, gowns and sequins. However, I felt more attracted to the platform it created for young women and have always wanted to create my own contest to which I could apply the skills I witnessed and learned in my 12 years doing the circuits of both fashion and beauty. Miss World has always been a contest for which I enjoyed watching - the magnificent stages, productions as well as the exotic locations that hosted this event - all teamed up with my religious studies of this contest prompted me to apply for the franchise. In the time for which I had applied to present day, I have been excited with the many opportunities that have presented itself - the Miss World brand is widely recognized including respected and this I hope to mirror for my own event - Miss World Fiji, to not only do justice to the motto of Miss World's 'Beauty with a Purpose' however inspire, transform and create the many opportunities with our alignment to such an amazing brand.
CB: What qualifies you to organize a national pageant? Convince us that you have what it takes to put Fiji on the beauty pageant map!
More than anything, any individual is seen fit and qualified to organizing a contest however in order to succeed, one must develop and nurture pure passion for such industry. I have been a religious follower of beauty contests my entire life and I confidently believe that in observing such glamor and studying the numerous pageant productions, winners, event management and history of pageants, I am knowledgeable but remain humble about my ability to showcase the years of 'classroom' work. Each day I learn new skills and constantly develop more understanding as well as patience for this industry - when you have a passion to succeed, you reap the results but it is with the right attitude to which we approach such challenges that sets us apart from the rest. Fiji is an amazing country with a melting pot of cultures - we have had British, Indian and Asian influences that have shaped our nation to what it is today and with our friendly people that master our 'Bula' spirit, I am determined to make a huge impact on the pageant platform and give South American and Asian pageant power houses a run for their money.
CB: You mentioned that you admire Osmel Sousa for his phenomenal method of training Venezuelan beauty queens. As you know, his concept of a perfect beauty queen is to resemble a Barbie doll. Do you agree with this concept? Give us some idea on how you will prepare your national winner.
Mr. Osmel Sousa has been a professional that has reigned in this industry for many years - he has given the pageant industry so much recognition with his concepts of mentoring and developing beautiful women from his native Venezuela. Beauty is defined in so many ways, forms and sizes and without casting judgement, I think the formulas he constantly uses be it cosmetic surgery has worked well for his women so by all means I think with his concept, he continues to produce successful delegates that capture international titles such as Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International.
For me, I have nurtured my own formula for which I will apply once we select our national winner and this will be a formula I believe that will challenge the competing delegates at Miss World Finals. It isn't always about beauty on the outside that counts as with age, that sadly disappears however when you master beauty on the inside, you create a legacy that is longer lasting and inspires and challenges pageant critics that think Beauty on the Outside is what makes for a winner. Granting someone the opportunity to becoming someone influential and with the right mentoring and nurturing can be very powerful and transforming.
CB: What would constitute the perfect Fijian beauty queen and how would she stand out from, let's say, the glamazons of Latin America or the fembots of Europe?
A Fijian beauty queen in my eyes is one that embodies the traits of the many melting pot of cultures that makes up our Unique Fiji. With links to the Far East of Asia to the Kalahari's of Africa, our women have strong features such as bone structure, sun kissed skin, a smile that sinks ships and strength/stamina that is as equal to our men. A standout feature I believe is the mannerism to which our Fijian women are raised - we all come from very humble beginnings and our attitude, patience and approach to even the most stressful environment is very calm although collective. Expect to see our Ambassador that not only house unique skills however possess looks that is currently in demands on the international modeling circuits.
CB: Got any favorite beauty queens?
I have always admired and respected the work of Aishwarya Rai Bachan (Miss World 1994) - she has been an individual that has also had an impact on my passion for beauty contests with her intellect, beauty and stage presence both pageant and on screen. I hope to one day meet her and bid to produce a Fijian Beauty Queen that will be as equal or even better than her.
CB: What has been the most daring and adventurous thing you have done so far which is not associated with pageants or entertainment and what did you learn from this experience?
I was diagnosed with major depression in 2010 and for two years of my life, I battled this illness that not only robbed me of numerous opportunities however almost claimed my life on the 11th of September in 2011 after an accidental overdose. This experience coupled with a few other near fatal misses saw me admitted into a mental health hospital to get treated for an illness I was so foreign to. The entire experience was daring to not only myself but also to the the community of people that I had impacted during my battle. The adventure of suffering such illness allowed me to reject a last measure procedure to treat me (Brain Shock Therapy or ECT ) as I relied strongly on my faith and God to battle this illness and succumb to what Medical Science had created, for which has a very nasty life long effect - memory loss.
The one thing I learnt in the entire experience from when I got diagnosed, suffered and now a miraculous survivor, advocate and campaigner for mental health is that apart from being given the chance to start at life again, I was also able to understand how important and precious life truly is. In the past, I always took life for granted however now, I live for each day, welcome new experience, allow myself to make mistakes, grow more as a person yet in the entire cycle of things - I remain humble, loyal, patient, faithful and above anything else - thankful that today I am living my dream - that of creating my own beauty contest and inspiring others that consider failure as a thorn to their side.
CB: What do you say to critics of pageants who claim that pageants are demeaning to women?
Beauty pageants create powerful platforms to empower, create and transform wether it be male or female opportunities. Women in many parts of the world have equal rights as men and many are educated to understand that through beauty, you are able to communicate in the universal language which is love. Sharing compassion, educating, growing more as a person are some of the qualities in which beauty contest creates and in such manner, those that critic beauty contest must first answer to themselves as to why they oppose such demeanor - "If I do not love myself, I will not love others" - the stem of which is misunderstanding, poor judgement, misconception, stigmatize, abuse and of course demeanor to women of which majority of the women are far more educated than he or she that casts the first rock at those affiliated to such industry.
CB: Name three words that describe you and explain why they describe you.
Love - I create and show love as by doing so, I project a pure spirit from within that is relatable to everyone and is able to turn a solid heart soft.
Faith - I live my life in faith; this allows me to step outside my comfort zone and experience the many other opportunities that life creates and present.
Hope - With faith, I succeed. With love, I conquer and coupled as my weapons, I shine a light that gives meaning to others for which hold on to hope as a beacon but are too afraid to let go.
The new Miss World Fiji will be crowned on April 21st. Please visit the official Miss World Fiji website for updates leading to the finals.