Interview with Stephanie Hill – Miss Universe Great Britain Finalist
Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey so far for my pageant lockdown blog. It’s been lovely getting to know fellow pageant queens and more about the systems and platforms that they represent.
Now your not a stranger to pageants after competing in Miss England 4 times and then Miss World where you were crowned Miss World Europe. What made you enter Miss England pageant in the first place ?
The Miss England competition played to my strengths and interests at the time, I was attracted to how the competition had multiple rounds to participate in to showcase a variety of skill sets. I enjoyed the talent round, the eco round, the charity round, and all the rounds as it meant the preparation for the compeition, although intense, constantly maintained motivation and excitement in the lead up to the event.
Why did you decide to keep competing in the Miss England pageant and how did you deal with defeat ?
The ethos of Miss England really resonated with me, using your gifts for a better purpose, using the beauty of your personality and qualities for a purpose. I wanted my efforts to be a constant in my life irrespective of the competition, so ‘winning’ was merely a bonus in addition to the experience and the opportunity.
When you got get named as the new Miss England how did it feel ?
Photo Credit Miss England
A great relief! As much as I enjoyed the work, the acknowledgement that I was chosen to represent the country really meant that my efforts had made impact and all the hard work had finally been recognised.
The Miss England has changed greatly over the years to incorporate that beauty is not just on the outside but the inside too such as the brains and beauty round and stopping the swimwear round. Do you think this is a step forward for women not to be objectified as ‘just something to look at’ ?
I have had a recent re-evaluation on the purpose of the swimwear round and its presence in pageantry. Miss World removed the swimwear round to pay respect to the variety of cultures, religions and ethnicities that enter the compeition, to give women the opportunity to compete in an international competition without a swimwear round. I am, however appreciative that Miss Universe does have a swimwear round, as I am now in a position where I want to celebrate fitness and femininity by showing pride in my body, the wonderful element of all of this is that there is now a system for everyone and their wants for compeition.
Now can you tell us about your experience at Miss World ?
Copyright Miss World
It was brilliant, unbelievable madness. An average of 2-4 hours sleep every night being surrounded by talented, intelligent, eccentric, fascinating, inspiring women, a chance to share culture and heritage openly and enthusiastically, all for 5 weeks! My only wish is that every woman could have that experience, I returned with great pride in my culture, a great deal of education and appreciation, and affirmation that I have qualities that are needed and can be readily distributed.
After you were crowned Miss World Europe you did a lot of travelling, what was the best experience for you during that time ?
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India was incredible, so intense and busy. Our daily schedule was up at 2am, flight at 4am, land at 6am, travel and work for the rest of the day. We met with dignitaries, regional councils, and we went out to remote regions to distribute supplies and conduct workshops. The whole Beauty with a Purpose Tour was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Now you are a finalist in Miss Universe Great Britain, what made you want to enter this system over the other systems out there ?
My reason for returning to pageantry in general was to use my new found knowledge, skills, academic advances and influence on a new platform. Miss Universe Great Britain as a platform is centred around emotional intelligence and contibution to national and global efforts, and the power a voice can have. To have the opportunity to work internationally once again would be incredible, and I am excited for the potential to approach this venture as a stronger, more established woman.
What have you been doing in the run up to the Miss Universe Great Britain final pre lockdown ?
I have been SO busy, alongside full-time work/studies from home! I have reached my fundraising target for A-Sisterhood, the MUGB official organisation, by conducting ‘LIVE from the Living Room’ concerts over live streaming services, as well as calling children stuck in lockdown dressed as their favourite Disney princess! I’ve also distributed over 100 earbands to my local hopsitals to reduce the sores caused by excessive wear of PPE. I’ve been really busy!
How has COVID 19 effected your life both on a personal, work and pageantry level ?
I am one of the people who, if anything, REALLY needed to slow down and shake up my schedule. My work was full-on, and I haven’t had a prolonged period of time more than a week at home since I was 19, can you believe! I’ve needed time to spend at home, re-establishing my goals and priorities, spending time with loved ones and pets that the daily life of 12 hours at work hadn’t allowed for many years. My laboratory has, unfortunately been closed, so my projects were postponed and changed, and I’ve had to learn new skills to adapt for the crisis. Pageantry-wise, I have simply had to be more innovative with my platform, my supported causes and of course, fundraising!
I do think it’s incredibly amazing that you manage to juggle your work with pageants. Can you tell us more about your medical background in oncology ?
Well, I’ve been working towards my position as a scientist since secondary education, for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be in research, in whatever form that took. I am a qualified therapeutic radiographer, but I took the risk to branch into research as a scientist and it was worth it. I am currently studying a master’s in Translational Oncology, and I finished my position as a Clinical Trials Associate in March to move into laboratry work full-time. Following completion, I will either return to my project as the official Clinical Trials Associate or I will pursue a PhD, the problem is I want to do both!
As well as work and pageants you also show horses, are a ballroom dancer and are a classically trained singer where do you find the time ?
I don’t. I am scheduled to the literal minute, people would shriek if they saw my calendar. I am happiest when I am busy, I have a very active mind that needs stimulation. My hobbies are my social life, and my loved ones are very involved in them too, so we’re efficient with time management.
Photo Credit The Voice
What’s your pageant platform/chosen charity ?
So of course, with my academic/professional background, I am very driven by cancer research initiatives. I came across The Eve Appeal, which focuses specifically on the research and education of the very elusive female cancers. I have really enjoyed working with them and I plan to visit the lab in London once everything resumes again, and then of course we work for A-Sisterhood throughout the year which is purely female-focused too.
What have pageants taught you ?
A great deal of resilience. Nothing teaches you how to utilise your skills more than pageantry does. There is no other industry where your chances of success are so slim, but in spite of this you give your all and accept the result with such grace and dignity. It is the most unique worldwide establishment there has ever been.
Do you feel that pageants can change things for better ?
Copyright Miss World
Always. The community is often oblivious to how they have benefitted from the efforts of pageant candidates. These are women, who out of the goodness of their hearts, have contributed tremendously with innovative efforts to leave behind legacies that better society.
What do you say to people that think beauty pageants are just about wearing a pretty dress ?
Photo credit Miss World
Compete with me, and let’s see your CV! I don’t unfortunately, have much tolerance for people who refuse to conduct a 30-second search into the background of pageants, with information abundantly available at our fingertips I think it shows a great deal of ignorance. And even if some pageants were purely about aesthetic, how is that any different than a simple modelling compeition? People seem to be greatly threated by confident, established women who aren’t afraid to share and celebrate their passions, but what they don’t realise is that we lift women up, rather than tear them down, as we know the more there are of us, the greater the benefit.
Have you ever come across bullying/trolling due to you been a Beauty Queen ?
No, both my workplace and personal circle are incredibly supportive of what I do, because they are educated and understand how greatly beneficial it is to people. They see it as a safe place for young women to blossom and develop into the leaders of the future, and they have been grateful to have benefitted from the skills or even the contacts I have been able to pass on. It is merely a lack of understanding and education that causes opposition of pageantry, nothing else.
What’s your favourite date ?
25th April, of course!
What the best advice you can give to fellow pageant girls?
Copyright Miss World
Know yourself, and look at what you can ‘give’. Can you give your voice, your support, your knowledge, your talent, your expertise, your skills to a cause? Can you simply raise awareness, can you educate, can you guide people? Everyone has something to give, it’s not as linear as being able to sing or dance or having higher education. The majority of recent reigning international queens are full-time advocates/volunteers for a cause, their profession isn’t considered, rather what they are DOing with their presence and impact.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey. It’s been lovely getting to know you better and learn more about Miss England, Miss World and now Miss Universe ! I wish you every success at Miss Universe. Much love Charlotte, Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.