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Miss Universe New Zealand 2008: talk before you walk


April 1, 2008/12.14

Miss Universe New Zealand 2007It’s pageant season all right.
   In the last few days there has just been more discussion here at Lucire about the next Miss Universe New Zealand ?nal, on April 20—about three weeks later than last year’s one.
   As with 2007, we’ll be offering a prize of a feature that includes the winner. I’ve already had a meeting with Laura Ming-Wong, our editor, about the angles that the story will take depending on the winner.
   I don’t know who the contestants are other than those already publicized in the media. I’ve called Val Lott, the director of the pageant, to let her know of my prior contact with Miss Wellington, Rebecca Connor, which averages out to be an email a year and never on the subject of beauty pageants. 
   I had an idea about whom might re-enter from 2007 but I have not heard anything of?cial, nor did I con?rm their names with Val. Most of that knowledge came from the grapevine, and it’s not really my business to publish hearsay, even on a blog. I have some 2007 contestants linked to me on MySpace and Facebook, two services which I hardly use these days. I have been careful to never discuss pageants with them and the “wall” discussions have been a matter of record.
   Val was satis?ed that there is no con?ict of interest in my case (this is a small country, after all), so yours truly is con?rmed as a judge again.
   The discussion between Laura and me today centred around what kind of story would suit the different types of winner. Will Miss New Zealand be a brainbox with a degree, a celeb-in-the-making, or the nasty type who manages to fool the judges during the interview session?
   I have an idea who the other judges might be, so the last option is unlikely. Last year, there was considerable accord between all of us.
   We were lucky in 2007 that Laural Barrett was a very good subject and her career in coming years may prove that we were right.
   I learned that any preconceptions I had prior to the pageant were blown out of the water once I was actually there. 
   The ?rst night’s judging took six hours: about an hour or two of meet-and-greet, a small swimsuit parade and three to four hours of interviews.
   It actually is hard work, especially for a judge like me who ?ew up the same day. I am ?ying up earlier this year to get better sleep patterns in advance of the very huge day of work and judging.
   The interview plays a massive segment and it’s during that time that we get to know the attitudes of the contestants. The ?nal night’s judging is very important, too: it’s that evening we see the contestants in their gowns and in a fashion parade. We also get to confer for the ?rst time.
   Even between interview night and the ?nal night the order changed just because of “on the night” performances.
   What we look for is someone who can represent this country as an ambassador and convey our values—but also be competitive on the beauty stakes.
   We also seek someone who can wow them in a global sense, even if last year’s judging panel in México had a few folks who didn’t seem like they had good experience in the ?eld (a Deal or No Deal briefcase model and a Heroes actor, because of network commitments).
   Now that I have had a bit more experience with pageantry—in two countries now—I am even more sure the next Miss New Zealand will be a ?tting candidate for Miss Universe.

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Filed by Jack Yan

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