Entertainment Desk : dhakamirror.com
The next Miss Universe pageant, to be held in El Salvador later this year, will be historic in many ways. For the first time, married women and mothers are allowed to participate in the 72nd edition of the annual beauty pageant.
The rule change announced last year represents one of the biggest upheavals in the history of the long-running competition, which previously only allowed single women between the ages of 18 and 28 who had never been married or had children.
Here are all the Miss Universe 2023 nominees crowned so far
Miss Universe Philippines: Michelle Dee
The 28-year-old actress from Makati beat 37 other contestants in May to win the crown. Dee won jury over the competition by saying that the best the Philippines can offer to the world is its people, warmth and hospitality.
In the competition’s final round at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, the top five candidates were all asked – in reference to the Philippines’s new tourism slogan “we give the world our best” – what the country’s greatest asset is.
“The Philippines is home to very beautiful natural resources, from the beaches to the mountains, but I believe that the best natural resources that the Philippines has is us Filipinos,” she said. “We are the true heart and soul of the Philippines with the way we are hospitable, with the warm smiles … and we are the reason why the world keeps coming back for more.”
Dee’s mother, actress and producer Melanie Marquez, is a former beauty queen, having won the Miss International crown in 1979. Dee’s cousin, actress and model Winwyn Marquez, is also a beauty queen, and was crowned Miss Reina Hispanoamericana – which celebrates Hispanic beauties – in 2017.
Dee also represented the Philippines at a global pageant when she won Miss World Philippines in 2019. She finished in the top 12 at the Miss World competition, held in London, where Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh was crowned winner that year.
A psychology graduate, Dee is only the second Filipina to win both the Miss World Philippines and Miss Universe Philippines crowns, after Catriona Gray.
Miss Universe Venezuela: Diana Silva
Silva, 25, a model, actress and former cabin crew member, was crowned Miss Venezuela last November. However, it’s not the first time she’s won a major crown. She won the Miss Earth Venezuela pageant in 2018 and competed in the Miss Earth pageant in the Philippines that year.
An early favourite, Silva, however, collapsed backstage and injured her cheekbone, after making it to the Top 8 causing her run at the competition to abruptly come to an end. Silva was given urgent medical attention and was later confirmed to be out of danger.
“I have always thought that word has power. When we speak and are able to put it out, we are creating that reality around us,” she said after being crowned Miss Venezuela 2022. “This November 16th, I fulfilled what I had decreed a few years ago. It wasn’t my performance that day that made me proud of the victory, but the effort, dedication and discipline that I had from day 1 to accomplish my goal.”
Miss Universe Peru: Camila Escribens
The Lima-born American-Peruvian model, 24, won the crown after competing in the Miss Peru pageant for the third time.
“Never give up, don’t stop fighting for your dreams,” she posted soon after winning the Miss Peru 2023 crown in May. “One of the greatest gifts I received tonight was popular vote. The fact that I had so many people accompanying me in my dream was wonderful. I want you to know that I am fully committed and I receive the title with maturity and responsibility.”
Miss Universe Mauritius: Nilmani Devi Hurlall
Crowned Miss Maurice 2022/2023 last June, 23-year-old Hurlall is currently pursuing a diploma in Hindustani vocals and is a part-time voice artist with dreams of becoming a radio host.
“The last thing I remember vividly before the crowning moment is being asked this question: ‘Is being self-sufficient the way forward in life?’ My answer was: ‘To be self-sufficient [is] to believe in yourself,” she shared on Instagram following her crowning.
In addition to Miss Universe, Hurlall will also represent her country at the Miss Supranational pageant, taking place in Poland in July.
Miss Universe Kyrgyzstan: Diami Almazbekova
Almazbekova, 20, is a professional model who was crowned Miss Kyrgyzstan 2022 at a glittering ceremony in Bishkek in October.
Based in Moscow, she will now represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador.
Miss Universe Czech Republic: Vanesa Svedova
Only 19-year-old Svedova is a student and model and was crowned Ceska Miss Essens 2022 in Prague in December. With the title, she will now represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant.
“I still can’t believe you all really chose me. Thank you to all for the votes, for the SMS, the jury, the audience, the girls, the production for the great care and organisation,” she posted on Instagram soon after her crowning. “Let’s see where this journey takes me. I’m super-excited for it anyway. I am the new Czech Miss Essens. It is an honour.”
Miss Universe Curacao: Kim Rossen
Rossen, 25, is an athlete and occupational therapist based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. After winning numerous national competitions as a runner, she brought that same competitive spirit to the Miss Universe Curacao pageant and secured the crown, earning her the right to represent her country in the global competition.
She says her favourite quote is: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Miss Universe Croatia: Andrea Erjavec
Crowned in May in Zagreb, Erjavec, 23 – an advocate for the mental and physical health of children – is currently pursuing a degree in education.
“I promise that I will do my best at the world pageant, and on this occasion I would like to tell all the girls to be persistent, believe in themselves and be aware of their potential because, really, if they want something, they can make it happen,” she posted on Instagram soon after winning the Miss Universe Croatia crown.
Miss Universe Belgium: Emilie Vansteenkiste
21-year-old dancer and occupational therapist Vansteenkiste, who speaks fluent Dutch and French, beat 31 other contestants to the Miss Belgium crown in February. The national competition was delayed after last year’s winner, Chayenne van Aarle, had a car accident a few days before the final competition. Then, hours before the show, authorities arrested a gunman near the venue.
“After an emotional week due to the accident with Chayenne, Miss Belgium 2022, and a horrifying afternoon where an attack has been foiled by the Belgian police, we are proud we could still make a beautiful show (with some delay) with a new Miss Belgium Emilie Vansteenkiste!,” the official Miss Belgium Instagram account posted following Vansteenkiste’s crowning.
Miss Universe Kosovo: Arbesa Rrahmani
The model and actress, 21, hail from the city of Ferizaj in Kosovo. She was crowned Miss Universe Albania alongside Endi Demneri at a beauty pageant in Tirana, capital of Albania.
Kosovo has been represented in the Miss Universe pageant since 2008, when the country was declared an independent state. Rrahmani succeeds last year’s defending champion Roksana Ibrahimi.
Miss Universe Albania: Endi Demneri
The model, 24, from Tirana, capital of Albania, dedicated her victory to her late grandparents.
“I strongly believe that beauty isn’t just about having a beautiful image, but having a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart, and a beautiful soul,” she shared on Instagram, saying that she participated in the Miss Universe Albania competition because she “saw it as an opportunity to give voice to worthy causes – supporting girls and women”.
“The most beautiful diamonds are created from higher pressure,” she said.