12.13.2019

Review Of Miss Universe 2019 Telecast



ZOZIBINI TUNZI a 26-year-old public relations specialist from Tsolo, South Africa, was crowned Miss Universe 2019 on December 8 at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The telecast aired lived on FOX for the fifth year in a row. However, the show was not live streamed like last year. The venue proved to be the smallest to date, with a very limited seating capacity of 2,200 people.

The short-haired Tunzi was crowned by the outgoing queen, Catriona Gray of the Philippines. Tunzi’s victory marks the third time that South Africa has won the Miss Universe crown (Margaret Gardiner in 1978, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017). Her victory is also significant because she is the first black South African woman to win the coveted crown. In her bio stated in the Miss Universe website, Tunzi “is a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender based violence” and “is a proud advocate for natural beauty” by encouraging women to love themselves for the way they are.”

For the fifth straight year in a row, Emmy Award winner Steve Harvey hosted the three-hour event with backstage commentary from former Miss Teen USA Vanessa Lachey and former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo. Entertainment was provided by Ally Brooke, formerly of the girl group Fifth Harmony.

For the second year in a row, an all-female panel of judges was installed to form the selection committee: Gaby Espino, Venezuelan actress; Sazan Hendrix – American businesswoman and social media personality; Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007 from Japan; Cara Mund, Miss America 2018; Bozoma Saint John, American businesswoman and marketing executive; Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008; and Paulina Vega, Miss Universe 2014 from Colombia.

A total of 90 countries were represented in the 68th edition of the pageant which was held for the first time in Atlanta. Miss Universe Organization (MUO) President Paula Shugart told Critical Beauty that Crystle Stewart, a good friend of Tyler Perry, was highly instrumental in securing the venue and that it was the organization’s last ditch effort to hold the pageant in Atlanta since no other U.S. city was willing to host it.


Final Results:

Miss Universe 2019: South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi

First Runner-Up: Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios

Second Runner-Up: Mexico,  Sofia Aragón


Top Three: South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi; Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios; Mexico,  Sofia Aragón

Top Five: South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi; Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios; Mexico,  Sofia Aragón; Thailand, Paweensuda; and Colombia, Gabriela Tafur.

Top Ten: South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi; Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios; Mexico,  Sofia Aragón; Thailand, Paweensuda; Colombia, Gabriela Tafur; France, Maeva Coucke; Iceland, Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir; Indonesia, Frederika Alexis Cull; Peru, Kelin Rivera; USA, Cheslie Kryst.

Top Twenty: South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi; Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson Berrios; Mexico,  Sofia Aragón; Thailand, Paweensuda; and Colombia, Gabriela Tafur; France, Maeva Coucke; Iceland, Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir; Indonesia, Frederika Alexis Cull; Peru, Kelin Rivera; USA, Cheslie Kryst; Albania, Cindy Marina; Brazil, Julia Horta; Croatia, Mia Rkman; Dominican Republic,  Clauvid Daly; India, Vartika Singh; Nigeria, Olutosin Araromi; Philippines, Gazini Ganados; Portugal, Sylvie Silvia; Venezuela, Thalia Olvino; and Vietnam, Hoang Thuy. 

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Best National Costume: In an episode that is reminiscent of host Steve Harvey’s infamous gaffe when he wrongly announced Miss Colombia as the winner of Miss Universe 2015, Harvey appeared to have called the wrong name while announcing the winner of the national costume show. Harvey announced that the winner was Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados and a photo of Ganados in her national costume flashed on the TV screen.

However, when the show cut to Harvey next to Miss Malaysia Shweta Sekhon, who was in a very different costume and told the comedian, “It’s not Philippines. It’s Malaysia (who won the national costume)."  A bewildered Harvey said that the teleprompter had given him the wrong name, but a representative for MUO confirmed later that Harvey actually said the correct name and that Ganados did win the contest.

STEVE HARVEY INTERVIEWS MISS MALAYSIA SHWETA SEKHON / GETTY IMAGES

Hours after the show, the Miss Universe organization took to Twitter to clear up the situation, tweeting that Harvey "had it right:  Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados is the new winner of the #MissUniverse2019 National Costume Competition! Congratulations, Gazini."
.@IAmSteveHarvey had it right: Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados is the winner of the National Costume competition! Congratulations, Gazini.


View image on Twitter


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   STEVE HARVEY'S 10-MINUTE MONOLOGUE WAS A TOTAL SNOOZEFEST / MUO

The HostSteve Harvey returned on his fifth (and hopefully, last!) year hosting the pageant. Looking dapper in a dark green jacket with embroidered gold appliqués, Harvey proved once again that he is no longer the comedian that everyone used to love, especially after he mentioned the 2015 announcement fiasco for the umpteenth time. Imagine if he continues to host for another 5 years, or perhaps 10 more years! Ugh. It was the worst 10-minute monologue for a pageant show on live TV. He needs to go, and frankly, I could care less if he has been getting death threats from the Colombian drug cartel or if his own show is on the verge of being cancelled. The fans could only take three years of him. Enough already. Come on MUO, let's bring back class and dignity to the show! I can think of several celebrities who would make better hosts like Ryan Seacrest and James Corden, or bring back Natalie Morales, Billy Bush or Mario Lopez. Please, no more clowns pretending as host.
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      DESPITE HER MEDIOCRE HOSTING SKILL, OLIVIA CULPO DAZZLED IN HER SILK ORGANZA GOWN

      
The Co-Hosts: This year, MUO invited former Miss Teen USA 1998 Vanessa Lachey and Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo to do the backstage commentary - this pair was actually a big improvement from last year's duo, fashion guru Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra (the official walking coach of the pageant) whose comments were mostly shady or catty. It's refreshing to see two former titleholders expressing kinder and more gracious comments; however, I felt that Vanessa's energy slightly overpowered Olivia's, and I sensed some strange chemistry between the two women. Olivia's hosting skill was no match to Vanessa's who could stand on her own. As much as I was mesmerized by Olivia's beauty, I think she's better off "influencing" her social media followers. I would have preferred to see Vanessa and her husband Nick Lachey as backstage commentators as they had done in the past. I actually saw Vanessa being interviewed on the red carpet an hour before the show and I wanted badly to interview her, but I guess luck was not on my side.  
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The  Venue: The pageant was held at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia - the first black-owned studios in the United States and the largest film production studio in the nation. The seating capacity was approximately 2,200 seats - the lowest number of seats provided in the modern history of the pageant. The very limited seating caused some fans to launch a petition, addressed to MUO, to move the finals to a much larger venue. Unfortunately, the petition landed on deaf ears. When I spoke with Paula Shugart over the phone two weeks ago, she mentioned that former Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart, who is good friends with Tyler Perry and who has acted with him, negotiated with Perry to have the pageant held at one of the studios since no other venue in the country would host it. Crystle might have landed on her butt during the Miss Universe 2008 finals, but it was she and her connections to Perry that prevented the pageant from collapsing like a house of cards. Still, the venue was so small that, according to some friends who had sat in the audience, fans could not vigorously wave flags and signs because they might hit other attendees, that the seats were tightly glued to each other which restricted one's movement, that there was only one level of viewing, and that the fans in the middle were not allowed to raise flags or signs because it would prevent Steve Harvey from reading the teleprompter. 
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EX-FIFTH HARMONY MEMBER ALLY BROOKE OPENS THE SHOW / MUO


The  Stage:  Compared to last year's expansive and huge stage which allowed the contestants extra space to prolong their catwalk, this year's stage is much smaller. Even though the runway was big enough to accommodate all 90 contestants, the design was nothing to be wild about. It was a basic rectangular stage that relied highly on LED lighting for special effects. The decor was essentially minimalist, except during the evening gown competition when trees and lamp posts were placed on stage to create an elegant, nocturnal ambiance. 
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The JudgesFor the second straight year in a row, the "Selection Committee" (or in layman's term, the "judges") comprised of an all-women panel that included three MUO titleholders who were crowned when MUO was still owned by Donald Trump: Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart, Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega; Miss America 2018 Cara Mund (I believe this is the first time in the history of Miss Universe to have invited a titleholder not associated with MUO); American businesswoman and social media personality Sazan Hendrix; American businesswoman and marketing executive Bozoma Saint John; and Venezuelan actress, Gaby Espino. During my phone chat with MUO President Paula Shugart two weeks ago, I expressed my displeasure in installing an all-female jury - a sentiment shared by many fans. She did say that eventually the "selection committee" will sway back to a mixed-sex judging panel. Let's hope she means it! 
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ALLY BROOKE, LOOKING LIKE JENNIFER LOPEZ PLAYING SELENA, PERFORMS THE LATE SINGER'S SIGNATURE HIT, "DREAMING OF YOU" / MUO


The musical perfomer: The telecast started with the performance by Ally Brooke, formerly of the girl group, Fifth Harmony, singing a medley of her hit songs ("Low Key,"  "No Good," and "Higher") while rose-holding contestants danced and pranced around her. I have never heard of  Ally Brooke before, but then again since IMG took over 4 years ago, they have invited B-List performers, or has-been big pop performers eager to have their flailing career revived by performing in a pageant with a huge global audience. Anyway, I would have rated Ally's performance with full five stars had she not murdered Selena's 1995 hit, "Dreaming Of You" during the Top 10 evening gown presentation.  Nevertheless, even though her karaoke rendition was awful, it was nice to see an artist paying homage to Selena who died tragically at a young age and to keeping her spirit alive.
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MISS USA CHESLIE KRYST TURNED OUT TO BE A BETTER COMIC THAN STEVE HARVEY / MUO

The Top 20: Every year, no matter how good of a predictor you think you are, you will always fall short of perfection. When people ask me who I think will win, I always tell them that I don't make predictions because most of the time my predictions turn out wrong at least 70% of the time. Lol. This year, of the 20 countries that I listed on my list (which I revealed on my vlog), 14 actually made the cut, which is not bad! The six countries that I had thought would enter the top 20 were Argentina, Great Britain, Ireland, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Slovak Republic. Of these six, I was shocked by the exclusion of Argentina (who was trained by the champion beauty queen maker Osmel Sousa), and Slovak Republic (a pageant veteran who is simply stunning). So the only reason I can think of for their exclusion is that they did not do well during the closed door interview with the judges. As for the actual Top 20, I was surprised by the inclusion of the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and Croatia who were off my radar during the entire competition. I felt that Portugal, even though she was not on my personal Top 20 list, had a better chance of making the cut because she was simply stunning! 

     Just like last year, this year's selection format consisted of selecting the best five from each geographical region (Africa/Asia & Pacific, Americas, Europe) and the Final Five (which replaced "Wild Card" last year, regardless of the region where the girl came from. Frankly, I despise the geographical format for the same reason that many fans have stated - that it leaves out more beautiful girls from the other regions with higher number of delegates. One almost gets the impression that IMG is purposely encouraging the exclusion of facially beautiful girls in favor of less attractive ones but who happen to be "good talkers." 

     I was so delighted to see one of my favorites, Vartika Singh of India, to have made the cut. India has not placed in the last three years, and to see India up there on the international stage is quite refreshing. I look forward to India sending another strong delegate next year and in the future years to come!

     The most interesting part of this segment is that the five girls selected for the Final Five all came from pageant powerhouses: Philippines, Venezuela, India, Brazil and Colombia. These countries have relatively big pageant fan base, so it was only logical - for the sake of increasing the level of excitement  - to announce these countries lastly. In the back of my mind, a voice was telling me that Colombia would eventually win the crown, and this voice became even louder after she cracked a joke with Steve who still has not gotten over his infamous announcement of the wrong winner (Colombia) from the 2015 pageant. 



Harvey: You're here.
Colombia: Yes, I'm here. You're sure you read correctly? Should I go back?  
(The audience roars in laughter.)

     The voice inside of me intensified after Miss Colombia Gabriela Tafur Nader acknowledged her "abuelita" (grandmother) in the audience and asked the audience to give abuelita a big round of applause because she came all the way from Colombia to see the pageant. Naturally, the audience applauded Grandma Colombia who stood up and got at least 5 seconds of universal airtime. How many abuelitas in the universe get this much television exposure? However, this tender moment turned sour when Harvey referred to the cartel yet again, but his joke fell flat as the audience remained silent. Colombian fans would later bash him on social media, and a day later even Tafur herself tweeted, "Cartel jokes are not funny @IAmSteveHarvey"

     One truly funny moment was when Steve asked Miss USA Cheslie Kryst if she had tips for him before appearing in front of the camera, and Cheslie said, "I would say to just take a deep breath, slow down. If you have notes make sure to look at your notes beforehand and most importantly, I usually pin my hair back so it's out of my face [then looks at Steve] but I don't think you'll have that problem." The audience went wild!
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The Opening Statement: After the Top 20 semifinalists were called, each of them had to give an opening statement that reflects their personality and summarizes their advocacy.  While virtually all of them sounded deep and serious, France's Maeva Coucke resorted to humor by mentioning her twin sister. She said in French (my translation): "Very few people know it, but I have a twin sister. So to laugh, we used to switch places in school. By the way, I know that the Miss Universe schedule is very busy so having a double Miss Universe could be a great idea for the organization. What do you think about that?" France's witty and humorous statement certainly reflected her playful personality and convinced me that she would be a shoo-in for the top 10. 

     In contrast to Maeva's jesting yet well-structured statement, Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados's version was incoherent and badly phrased, despite its serious message. Gazini said: "The world is aging, and my grandparents raised me. I worked in an organization that was supporting elderly care. I learned... I realized that there's this stigma between ageism, poverty, exclusivity, and invincibility. It is rightful for us to remember that they were the ones who paved the way for us. We should reciprocate that love, and no one should be ever left behind. Thank you."  I wasn't entirely sure what her main subject was. Was she referring to ageism in particular? To her grandparents specifically? Who is "they" in "they were the ones who paved the way for us?" The subject of reference is not clear. And what exactly is the relevance of poverty, exclusivity and invincibility to the topic of aging population? I was just confused by her statement. I felt bad for her because the Filipino fans were expecting for her to advance to the top 10, but she failed. She was supposedly trained by the top two pageant camps in her country, but it looks like she got little preparation in the delivery of her opening statement. This flaw eventually caused her exclusion from the top ten.
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THE COMPETITION GOT HOTTER WITH ICELAND'S TOP 10 PLACEMENT/MUO

The Top 10: After giving their opening statements, the top 20 were cut in half.  The announcement of each semifinalist was immediately followed by a video clip of the semifinalist talking a little bit about herself and her cause. To me, the biggest surprise was Iceland,  Iceland, Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir. In my earlier vlog, I described Birta as "a little girl lost in a hotel casino", but this image quickly evaporated into thin air after seeing her video and her "mature" projection on stage. It was great to see Iceland back on track; the last time the country placed was ten years ago. I was ecstatic that Miss Peru Kelin Rivera also advanced. I have been following Kelin from the moment she won World Miss University 2016 to her winning the Miss Universe Peru crown after three attempts. I was happy that my favorite for the crown, Paweensuda Drouin of Thailand, also advanced. But the most exciting part was Indonesia finally making the top ten for the first time! To be honest, I thought Frederika Culler of Indonesia was performing better than Paweensuda Drouin of Thailand, although I was hoping that at least one of them would advance to top 5.
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 PUERTO RICO (MIDDLE) ROCKED THE STAGE WITH CLASSIC YET SEXY SWIMSUIT POSES 

The Top 10 Swimsuit Competition: The top ten finalists competed in their swimsuit of choice, accessorized by a colorful cape that they could fling from either side or both sides. To me, USA had the most insane body, but her walk lacked grace, compared to Puerto Rico who was flawless in her overall stage projection. I also liked Colombia and France's performance. As each of the finalist entered the stage, her voice-over was played in the background. I cringed when Steve announced Colombia's name even before USA's voice-over was finished. And Colombia's voice-over was never played. Little technical flaws like this aggravate me.

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ZOZIBINI'S SAND AND OCEAN INSPIRED EVENING GOWN/MUO

The Top 10 Evening Gown Competition: The Top Ten finalists had then to compete in evening gown while Ally Brooke serenaded them with her abominable rendition of Selena's song, "Dreaming Of You."  I found South Africa's gown to be the best; Zozibini Tunzi herself described her gown as a reflection of her country - "the brown of the sand and the blue of the ocean. I feel like I have South Africa with me on the stage." Does this not remind you of Catriona Gray's lava dress last year that also reflected her country Philippines? Another gown that I liked is Miss France's couture frilly dress with exposed shoulders and plunging neckline; she looked absolutely divine. Mexico brought an element of surprise when she sashayed wearing a deep red sleeveless gown with a skirt that she unwrapped dramatically from her waist when she did a 360 degree turn. I didn't care much for Iceland's ball gown because it made her look rather juvenile - which then prompted me to unlike her over again. I was also disappointed with Thailand's red gown; even though she carried it well, it lacked a wow factor that I had been anticipating from her ever since she had told me during the Press Junket that it was a "secret." The other gowns that I liked were those worn by Indonesia, Peru and Puerto Rico. 
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  HOST STEVE HARVEY ASKS THE FINAL QUESTION TO MADISON ANDERSON / MUO

The Top 5The next cut of the evening became even more intense with the announcement of the top five in this order: Mexico, Thailand, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and South Africa. At this moment, as I was watching from the Media Center of the Tyler Perry Studios, I was secretly wishing for Thailand to win, with Puerto Rico as the alternative. I was still doubtful about the other three, especially South Africa whom I had ignored from Day One.

     Steve Harvey reminded the audience the significance of the final Q & A segment : "Well, as we all know, Miss Universe isn't just a title. The woman who wins that crown instantly becomes a global ambassador. She must be a great communicator, quick, and clear, and confident." this question round puts that ability to the test (30 seconds to answer).



1. Mexico, Sofia Aragon
Question: Recently many countries have seen protests in their streets, some have led to violence. Is protest a positive way to create change?

Answer: "I believe in the cause. I believe in creating change. And I do believe in raising our voices. We need to be heard. And some of these protests are really powerful and they can create a positive impact, but I do not believe in violence, because violence is always going to create violence. I really believe that what we should do is come together, raise our voices, and make an impact in the best possible way ever through these [kinds] of platforms like Miss Universe, through [these] kinds of platforms like Ted Talks. That's why I'm here. And I really believe that that's what you should do. Thank you."

***I actually think that Mexico's response is the best. Why? Because she was able to discern good protest from bad protest (violence) and she integrated the Miss Universe brand and her objective as a contestant in her response.

2. Thailand, Paweensuda Drouin
Question: Government surveillance is used to keep many nations and their safe, but some believe this invades our right to privacy. What is more important to you, privacy or security?

Answer: "I believe that every country has their own government policy to keep us safe. And I believe that it shouldn't cross the line of going into our privacy because we have a right to privacy. But security is also very important, so I believe that in order to live in a better society, we should also have the government look into a line, a middle ground as to where they can come and live together with society."

Thailand attempted to play safe by giving a neutral response. I would have been more impressed if she had chosen either privacy or security and expounded on her choice. Though I have to admit that this question is not an easy one to answer.

3. Colombia, Gabriela Tafur Nader
Question: Millions of women worldwide lack access to reproductive healthcare. What do you believe is the most important issue in women's health and why?

Answer: "I think the most important thing is that women are able to choose about their own body. We have to have the option to have quality care. So any decision we make about our body, about our health, about our reproduction will ever put us [at] risk, especially our lives."

Colombia gave the weakest answer. It is not true that "women are able to choose about their own body" everywhere in the world, as indicated by strict and very limited reproductive healthcare in most developing countries. I was hoping that she would mention sexual abuse, rape or domestic violence as countless women around the world are not protected from these social diseases.

4. Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson
Question: Social media has empowered people to express their beliefs, but sometimes those beliefs are intolerant and dangerous. Should social media platforms respect free speech or regulate what people post?

Answer: "I most definitely believe that social media can be a positive aspect in our lives. We can share information, knowledge, however, it can be used in the wrong hands and spear negativity and harm many people, so I believe that social media should identify the people who are spearing such negativity and create hurt on self-esteem on other people to make sure that they're not abusing the system, such as social media. Thank you."

Puerto Rico's answer is somewhat mediocre; I would have wanted her to have mentioned the fact that social media outlets are privately owned who establish their own community standards and who are already censuring "free speech" when users abuse the standards. So basically, Madison gave an answer that most of us already know.

5. South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi
Question: Are leaders of today doing enough to protect future generations from climate change? If not, what more should they be doing?

Answer: "Steve, I think that the future leaders could do a little bit more. But, however, I feel like we as individuals, ourselves, can also play a part in making the climate and the way it should be in the future. I mean, we have children protesting for climate, and I feel like as adults we should join as well. We should have corporations join as well, and the government should take it seriously. I mean, from sixth grade, I've been learning that the climate is deteriorating and the planet is dying, and it is up to us to keep our planet safe. Thank you."

     Based on the substance and delivery, it was clear to me that South Africa had the crown in the bag. She was poised, level-headed and persuasive. Her voice was also smooth and soothing, almost reminiscent of Lara Dutta's polished diction. 
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The Top 3: Alas, heavy favorites Thailand and Colombia were eliminated after the Top 5 question round, which left Puerto Rico, Mexico and South Africa at the Top 3. All strong contenders coming from countries that have won the Miss Universe crown at least twice.

Final Word: Instead of calling it the usual "Final Question & Answer," this segment is now called "Final Word" which sounds ridiculous, as if the finalists could no longer speak after giving their final answer. 

The final question was, "What is the most important thing we should teach young girls today? 

1. Mexico, Sofia Aragon 

Steve it’s very important to teach young girls today the importance of their true value. We see so many perfection in social media, perfect lives, perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect relationships. Nothing is that real. We have to teach them that who they are is already amazing, who they are is already worth it, because what they really are is not what it looks like, it’s what they feel, what they act, and the way they react to the world. I believe a girl is worth what she has to offer to the world, way more than the way she looks. Thank you.

I found Sofia's answer very good, because I felt her sincerity, her passion, and her honesty. A girl can never progress in all levels when she suffers from a very low self-esteem especially in the looks department. Thus, young girls need to be taught that looks are not as important as their self-worth and what they can achieve.

2. South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi

I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity and that is what we should be teaching these young girls, to take up space, nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself. Thank you.

Zozibini gave the best answer not only because of her good delivery, but also because she brought up leadership which is one topic that is hardly talked about by Miss Universe contestants most of whom would rather talk about self-esteem and bullying. I felt that with this excellent answer, she was getting just moments away from cinching the crown.

3. Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson


There’s so many things that I would love to teach young girls if I have the opportunity to be the next Miss Universe, such as in a world where so many people wear masks, it’s such a beautiful thing to see an authentic soul, to embrace your uniqueness, to embrace who you are. You just don’t know who you can inspire just by being you, so celebrate that. Thank you.

Madison's answer was good but her delivery was not as strong as that of Zozibini or Sofia. 
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Closing Statement: And when you thought that the competition was over, a new segment was introduced this year in which each of the top three finalist had to give a compelling closing statement that summarizes their own concept of Miss Universe. This was also the last chance for the judges to have a final look on the three finalists.


1. Sofia Aragon, Mexico 

I think it's revolutionary [that] Miss Universe is looking for a female leader, who's willing to inspire others not to be like her but to be wanna be more like themselves. As a mental and emotional health advocate, I want to teach the girls that through beauty pageant and beauty platform, there's nothing that beauty cannot withold. I think the most important thing is to seek progress, not perfection.

2. South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi 

I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. And I think that it is time that it stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want to see their faces reflected in mine.

3. Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson 

Being on the stage of Miss Universe is not just a dream. I believe that I found my mission. It's representation of dedication, resilience, and perseverance. I true believe that my mission is to show the world that magic happens when we refuse to give up because the universe always listens to a stubborn heart.
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CATRIONA WILL BE ONE TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW / MUO


Catriona Gray's Farewell Walk: Outgoing queen Catriona Gray stepped out on stage looking ethereally beautiful in her light-blue strapless gown designed by Mak Tumang, the same designer behind her phoenix-inspired dress she wore during the 2018 preliminaries and the now iconic lava dress that she wore when she was crowned Miss Universe 2018. She radiated on stage, and looked much better now than when she was crowned in Bangkok a year ago.
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 A SHOCKED ZOZIBINI COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT SHE WON / MUO

The New Queen: Mexico's Sofia Aragon was proclaimed second runner-up, which left the two ladies, Puerto Rico and South Africa, as the last two standing. When South Africa's name was announced as the new Miss Universe, Puerto Rico gave her a hug and was whisked away with a bouquet of flowers in her hands. The new queen, Zozibini Tunzi, appeared totally shocked and in disbelief that she had just been crowned the new universal queen, and becomes the first winner to wear the new Mouawad-designed crown worth US$5 million. Back in the Media Center, I was jumping up and down and hysterically screaming, "Woohoo! South Africa! South Africa won! Woohoo!" Finally, the first black woman with natural afro-textured hair was crowned Miss Universe. Zozibini can now have the assurance that children will look at her and see her face and their faces reflected in hers.

Overall Score: This year's production proved to be the worst in the history of the pageant. A buffoonish host, a mediocre performer, a total disregard of Atlanta's rich history and culture, several technical glitches, excessive chatting of the girls, and a non-existent mention of the prize package. The only true saving grace is that the show was still broadcasted worldwide despite the pageant's decreasing popularity in some parts of the globe. Overall, I give the 2019 telecast a score of 5 points out of 10. And I am being generous.


By Rafa Delfin, 12/13/2019




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