Critical Beauty correspondent Héctor Joaquín Colón-González attended the Press Junket on November 4th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. CB had requested the Miss Universe Organization to interview 15 specific delegates, but since some of the delegates were not available, we ended up interviewing others who were not on our list. Due to time constraint, Héctor Joaquín had to do a quick and brief interview (more like a one or two-question inquiry).
Here's Part One:
Miss Peru Cindy Mejia:
When you won, you made several statements on homosexuals that shocked everyone.
What have you learned from this?
What have you learned from this?
Well, I've learned not to talk anymore with the press with much confidence. I definitely thank God for changing my views about gay people, specially when they're the ones who are supporting me unconditionally. My best friend is gay and unfortunately my words were badly misconstrued.
Miss Venezuela Maria Gabriela Isler:
How has your experience been like in Russia so far?
My mother always told me that one must always prepare oneself for the worst, and when you find the best, then you should be thankful to God. Since I arrived on the first day, I was expecting to meet strong and competitive candidates and that we would be talking about the pageant all the time, but the reality is that I have met girls who are very approachable and attentive and who want to make friends. From the first day, I felt very comfortable and in spite of what the girls thought that Venezuela came with a diva attitude, everything has been the opposite. The girls warmed up to me and told me how beautiful Venezuela is, how good to know that I am a nice person!
What does Osmel mean to you?
For one year, I saw Osmel as a mentor, as the person who directed me to the right direction, the person who knew how to give me great advice and who is never wrong in his decisions. It's hard for me to trust anyone, but I practically surrendered my life and preparations in his hands, trusting him, and I will remember him and the organization because thanks to them that I am a better person, I smile a lot, I enjoy the things in life. It was a year of personal growth not only for a beauty pageant but for the rest of my life. Osmel taught me to be wise!
Miss Myanmar Moe Set Wine:
It's the first time since 1961 than Myanmar has returned to Miss Universe.
How do you feel about it?
How do you feel about it?
I had to answer that question many times, but the answer is always the same. For me, it is a big honor, I am very thankful to give other image of my country to the world, and that already makes me a winner.
Miss Nicaragua Nastassja Bolivar:
You won Nuestra Belleza Latina 2011, and obviously NBL and Miss Universe are two different things. How have you changed since NBL?
Well, truthfully I have changed a lot. I still continue being Natassja. I think that I have gone very far but I feel that I am very prepared. When I entered NBL, I was a neophyte who didn't know anything about beauty pageants. Now I do! Now I know I how to apply makeup, my Spanish has improved, I look different, but I am the still the same person inside.
Miss Mexico Cynthia Duque:
When you won Miss Mexico, you were not the favorite, but you won anyway. Now everyone is saying that you're fat. What do you have to say to your critics?
I am not fat as you can see, Hector Joaquin. But yes, I look more mature. I'm here in Russia having a good time and making myself known, while there in Mexico they are making up stories about me. If the Mexicans say that I am fat, well then let them say it.
Is it true that you are angry at Lupita Jones?
Look, minutes ago another reporter told me that they were also saying that I was not getting along with Mrs. Jones but she is here. We get along fine and she is a sweetheart. Obviously, as national director Lupita is strict, and that's her job, but I admire her a lot and thank her for everything she has done for me.
Miss Panama Carolina Brid:
Since you were crowned Miss Panama, what have you learned?
I have learned to become wiser, to talk to the right people, how to behave. After all, being Miss Panama does not only require you to put on makeup or to fix your hair. It's also a hard job.
How do you view homosexuality in your country?
I come from a family where I was raised to believe that a man marries a woman, they have children, and they create a family together. But my mother also taught me to love my neighbor and that's what counts, to respect the decision of others. I've always been asked, "Carolina, what would happen if your son turned out to be gay?" And my answer is that I am going to love him. He's my son. What can I do? I will teach him all the values that my family instilled in me and I am going to respect his decision since it is his life. I will tell all my friends that before hurting anyone, they need to remember that we all have feelings, that we all have values. I am and I will always be an ally of the gay community not only in my country but in the entire world.
Miss Bahamas Lexi Wilson:
You surprised everyone when you won Miss Bahamas!
Yes, that is true! I wasn't the favorite but I was very sure that the judges knew whom they wanted to win and that it was my destiny to win Miss Bahamas. I am a very strong competitor. Perhaps I wasn't the favorite, but in my heart I knew that I was since I felt that I was the strongest candidate and that I have the qualities to be an excellent Miss Bahamas, or to be a great Bahamian woman. I'd like to tell all the Bahamians not to lose faith and that I am very sure of winning of Miss Universe!
Miss Argentina Brenda Gonzalez:
We know that the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, is undergoing a health crisis at this moment. What would you tell her now?
I would tell her that I love her, that my whole family loves her, and that she is a strong woman, with a domineering character like all of us Argentines and that this situation will go away. I know it will.
Miss France Hinarani de Longeaux:
What are you thinking now?
That I never thought about going to Miss Universe since I was only the first runner-up in Miss France! And when they told me that they would send me to Miss Universe, I was able to realize one of the biggest dreams of my life - to compete in Miss Universe.
Miss Israel Titi Yitawish Ayanaw:
How was it like meeting U.S. President Barack Obama?
It was the most important experience I have ever had in my life. To me, he is a role model and he represents hope for many black people. When I met him at the White House, I was overwhelmed with emotion and I couldn't hold back my tears. He was so nice to me and he told me that I was really pretty. You could just imagine how I felt at that moment. I don't have the words to describe it.
Miss Guatemala Paulette Samayoa:
Why do you want to win?
I have the passion to win this crown. Believe me, I have dreamed many times to have the Miss Universe crown placed on my head. No Guatemalan has ever won the crown and I am sure that I will make my country happy if I win!
Miss Canada Riza Santos:
Riza, we all know what happened when you competed in Miss Universe Canada. You were named the first runner-up and then a few days later you found out that you had actually won and that there was a tabulating error. How did you handle that situation?
I can tell you that for me, first of all, everything has been a blessing. It is a privilege and it has made me appreciate my victory. When the contest ended, I thought about it many times because I was the first runner-up. And when they called me to tell me that I had actually won, I couldn't believe it. I was totally in shock. But here I am representing my country with much pride and I already feel a winner.
Miss Colombia Lucia Aldana:
Lucia, many Colombians say that you are not shining in Miss Universe, that you don't look anything like the past Miss Colombias. What makes you different from the others?
That I am unique, period! They are them, and I am me, and for me the most important is the legacy that I can leave behind for each person and what I can give others, that I am a human being with virtues and flaws and that makes me special and unique. I am the kind of woman who calls attention, and that a beauty queen should call attention. I think that a queen is not what people expect her to be, but what they want to be. Perhaps they haven't found in me something that they like, so they wait for another girl because the truth is I am a very quiet woman, very passive, very pensive, very analytical and I know when to act and when to stop. I don't like wasting energy for nothing. Therefore I feel a little hurt because I would like to get at least some support from the people whose country I am representing.
Miss Costa Rica Fabiana Granados:
You're considered by many fans as one of the favorites for the crown. What do you have to say?
I'd like to thank everyone who has given me that recognition, to everyone who follows me on my social networks. I think with Miss Universe I am ending my career in pageants. (She had competed in Miss Earth, Miss Continente Americano, Reinado Internacional de las Flores, and Miss Panamerican).
Miss Dominican Republic Yaritza Reyes:
You weren't the favorite to win your national pageant, but you won anyway. How do you describe that moment?
When I watched the video of the pageant, I saw a completely different Yaritza. What I felt inside, it was like an earthquake that shook me from one side to the other, but when I see the video again I see myself so calm, so passive, and I say to myself that it was not what was happening inside of me, it was something indescribable!
What have you learned from Magali Febles?
Magali is a very committed and determined person; she is a fighter and no one can take that away from her. When she dedicates herself to something, she does it well and she succeeds in doing it. That's what I've learned from her as a woman, as a human being, and as a candidate.
Miss Ecuador Constanza Baez:
How do you view homosexuality in your country?
Imagine in this industry I am so used to working with homosexuals, transsexuals, lesbians. Everyone! I respect the decision of each individual. I believe that as long as you're happy and you have balance in your life, you must respect the happiness of others. I think that sometimes laws regarding homosexuality in certain countries are rather obsolete and even more so when we live in a country that has evolved. Denying reality seems to me totally incomprehensible, but we must also understand that there are certain cultures that are not progressive, but at the end of the day we need to respect each other, and if there's mutual respect then we can have everything.
Miss Aruba Stefanie Guillen Evangelista is very sad because her aunt died recently and she is completely alone here in Russia.
Miss Haiti Mondiana Pierre, in spite of her young age, had an operation a year ago to remove her ovaries and therefore she cannot bear children.
Miss Chile Maria Jesus Matthei: She is the niece of presidential candidate Evelyn Mathei. She is actually the presidential candidate for the 2013 elections of the Alianza party, which unites two official parties - Renovación Nacional and Unión Demócrata Independiente, and she is also the first woman from the Chilean left to be a presidential candidate in the history of the country.
All photos courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization