Saturday, October 3, 2009

'X' Factor or 'X'-treme Factor?

Dear Friends,

The pre-judging for the Miss World Malaysia 2009 pageant took place on Thursday. It was so cool to meet Jaslene Gonzalez, the winner of AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, Season 8. Strutting down the runways in New York City, she is in town to execute photo shoots and casting. Capitalising on the situation, Models.Com invited her to be part of this years' pageant judging panel.
In the panel, there were eight of us. Apart from Jaselyn and yours truly, the others were Pietro Felix who host the 'Morning Show' on MIX FM, Engku Emran - Chief Operating Officer of Suria FM (also husband of actress, Erra Fazira), Rubin Khoo - Editor from August Man, TV personality - Joanne Rozario and Miko Au - founder of Salon Espirit.

We were given a judging synopsis by Amin Hussein; the Executive Producer of Miss World Malaysia, also General Manager of Beyond Events. Our assignment was complex; to identify a winner from this pool of nineteen finalists. The girls will take on the panel individually; as they enter the room they will remove their robes and catwalk in their bikini. It was quite a DISTRACTING moment. They will then be seated in front of the panel. They are then given two minutes to convince the panel on why they should be our next Miss World Malaysia. Upon completing their 'hard sell', the panel will then field questions which will ascertain their spontaneity, knowledge and communication skills.

I took the role of 'Simon Cowell' being the intelligent nasty one. Most of the girls had their introduction so well rehearsed that it sounded politically correct and 'plastic'. There was one particular finalist who was trying to impress with a 'twang' that got her sounding neither Australian nor American. She was asked why she spoke in that manner. She said that it was required to, if she wanted to sound 'internationally' professional and not too Malaysian. All of us in the panel were like, "What??" But she 'swore' that she was proud to be Malaysian.

Finalist: "If I win the crown and represent Malaysia, I will promote our food, culture and the '1 Malaysia' concept in South Africa".
Judge: "Name me three Malaysian Cabinet Ministers and their portfolios"
Finalist: "Errr...Ahhh...Sorry, I don't know"

Judge: "I say you are young, you are not ready and you are not what we are looking for. What do you say to that?"
Finalist: "Huh, really ah? PLEASE LAH, I really want to win this"

The youngest finalist was 19 and the oldest 24. Most of them had really good intentions to win. So much so, that they have forgotten to be human. Most of them made over a SUPERFICIAL persona of a beauty queen for themselves.

I liked Stefanie Chua . Despite being only 21, she carried herself confidently, she is elegant and she is poised. During the 'Question & Answer' session, I asked her what was her take on the recent controversy surrounding ex-Miss Singapore, Ris Low. She was composed in her answer and she was convincing. Okay, she had a 'melting' smile too :) *Pictured below
I also liked Renee Erin from Melaka. She had the most natural answers and she has personality. I could feel her genuine in her spirit.

Thanuja Ananthan was really confident despite reassuring the panel that she was nervous a few times. Who wouldn't be with a panel of eight? Before the pre-judging, I had the opportunity to speak with Tiong Su Lynn whom I found knowledgeable and friendly. She is a FOOD BLOGGER and also write food reviews in a local daily. I also liked Christy Yeoh whom I found sincere and real.

Being a pageant judge for a competition of this stature is no easy task. I had the responsibility of selecting a REAL WINNER to represent this land in South Africa. I constantly reminded myself that our Miss World Malaysia must stand out, she must stand tall and she must be intelligent.

One thing is for sure, I could not locate the 'X-FACTOR', not in anyone of them.

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