What’s changed for the crowning of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 and the misconceptions about the pageant
What does 'Beauty Beyond You' actually mean?
Let's just put this out there: Yes, the Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation (MUMO) had to deal with a particularly controversial social media crisis not too long ago. But everyone can surely agree that the situation was well-handled by the organisation and its respective reps. With that being said, it's clear that the stakes are higher for the crowning of the next Miss Universe Malaysia (2020), and certain criteria needs to be met, now, more than ever.
The said crowning was initially scheduled to take place back in March 2020 but due to the global pandemic and the enforcement of MCO, it has since been postponed to 5 September 2020, with a brand new format. In addition, to comply with the rules of social distancing, the event will be streamed live online via the newly-revamped website; and only the finalists and panel of judges will be present.
Unfortunately, there are some who have certain assumptions and misconceptions about what the competition is really about. To that, we posed those questions to Elaine Daly, National Director of MUMO and Shweta Sekhon, Miss Universe Malaysia 2019, who would be the best people to answer them.
Hi Elaine and Shweta! How are you and how has MCO/RMCO/pandemic treated you? Any lessons to share?
Elaine Daly: "MCO has taught me even better organisational skills, and to have a solid routine. On the plus side, I had more time to spend with my family. I've also come to learn that we can live with much less than what we are used to. Professionally, work could still go on thanks to technology."
Shweta Sekhon: "Hello there! I am doing great and hope everyone reading this is too! This pandemic has taught me to appreciate every single moment of my life and to never put off doing what's important to another day—we never know what lies ahead, after all. If there's anything you need to do, do it today. Do it now."
As part of the New Normal (and for the sake of social distancing), the MUMO has announced a new format for the gala night. Tell us what can people expect from it.
Elaine Daly: "The show must go on and so, we will be showcasing it as an e-gala format. The contestants will still participate and we will still have judges like a normal pageant—there just won't be an audience and it will be streamed live at 5pm on 5th September. Tickets to watch the live stream will be on sale at www.missuniversemalaysia.com.my so stay tuned for the early bird deal!"
Shweta Sekhon: "The new norm has given the opportunity for many to do things digitally. That includes the upcoming gala. Even so, there will be a lot of performances and everything will be in a similar order as before—while following the SOPs set by our respected Ministry of Health. As social distancing is encouraged, no audience will be present except for the judges, finalists and crew members."
In general, how has the training and activities been different for the finalists?
Elaine Daly: "I have been communicating with the finalists online and this pandemic has forced us to shift our attention to social media. There is a schedule to keep up with them and they are still given the same training but via a different medium. I'm confident that they can adapt easily because they are young, digitally savvy and prepared."
What are some common misconceptions about pageants?
Elaine Daly: "That's it's only about girls in swimsuits. The Miss Universe competition is an empowering platform that gives young women around the world vast opportunities, a voice to speak up and to be heard."
Shweta Sekhon: "Discrimination. There are some who likens pageantry to body shaming, and some who looks down at us females. Little do they understand, this platform helps boost our confidence in ourselves. Just like my campaign 'Your Body, Your Say', the pageant talks about acceptance and confidence in one's looks yet health isn't something to be neglected either. Pageantry turns a girl into a queen. That's how much transformation happens in the world of pageants."
Elaine, what are three things that people don't realise you do as the National Director of MUMU?
"1) There's a lot of prep work that goes into preparing the finalists for the pageant. I'm hands on with that and we have a very small, lean team
2) I write my own interview replies
3) I'm on a chat group with the other National Directors from all over the world and we discuss pageant stuff on a daily basis."
Three things people do not know about Shweta Sekhon beyond the crown/
1) I rehearse my lines a whole lot before I get on stage!
2) People think that I'm fearless but I do! And that includes stage fright
3) I love wearing flip flops and sneakers! Heels are my go-to but if I could choose, it would be sneakers. And yes, even if it's to pair with my gown. (laughs)"
With ‘woke' culture on the rise and social media being such a powerful tool, how will this affect the choice/training for the next Miss Universe Malaysia 2020?
Elaine Daly: "As Miss Universe Malaysia, she has to be respectful at all times and mindful of what's going on in Malaysia and the world. This includes what she says online and offline, what she does, and how she carries herself as she ultimately, represents the organisation."
While the crowning of the next Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 was originally scheduled in March 2020, it has since been postponed due to the pandemic. Did that meant more training or activities for the girls?
Elaine Daly: Yes, the finalists had more social media activities and online Zoom sessions with partners and sponsors.
Finally, what does Beauty Beyond You (the tagline for the pageant) mean to you?
Elaine Daly: "It means that it goes beyond just the aesthetic and physical appearance. But also in how we treat others and how we do our part with the voice and pedestal we are given to speak up about the causes we believe in.
Shweta Sekhon: "Beauty—but not in the way people often assume it to mean. It's a term that carries many meanings and many perceive it to be a certain look or that it's about the outer appearance. It's not. Not about how you look or what you wear but about the inner you. Your character is the thing that reflects how you truly look."
To keep updated with the latest news on Miss Universe Malaysia, check out their website or Instagram. Also, 20 per cent of the proceeds from the tickets to the e-gala will be channelled to a chosen charity.