Out of the blue, Dubbo teenager Zae Wilson was encouraged to register for the Miss Universe contest. Now she’s a state finalist.
“I’m not a model at all,” the bubbly student laughed. “I have never done anything like that at all.”
Approached by the competition’s organisers on social media app Instagram, Zae sent in an absentee application with a little bit of inspiration from her mum.
Miss Universe is an international beauty pageant entered by 85 countries which is now in its 65th year.
“I would never have entered something like this of my own accord but Mum said to me, ‘You should just do it. You have nothing to lose.’”
There are 16 other young women from across the state who have been chosen, including fellow Dubbo girl Rachel Wykes.
Many of them have serious modelling aspirations while Zae has her heart set on journalism as a career, and is studying media and communications at the University of NSW.
“It’s a very big part of some people’s lives, many of them want to get into modelling,” she explained.
Personally, Zae was stunned by the news that she’d been selected in the State Final.
“When they published the details of the NSW Finalists, I assumed I didn’t get picked,” she said.
“But then they told me I was a finalist.”
Zae hopes to use the Miss Universe experience as a springboard for her career.
“It’s not something I saw myself doing – walking on a catwalk and being judged for it – but I thought it would be a good experience, of meeting people. Ideally, I would like some kind of job on TV or in journalism.
“For the girls that are successful in this competition, it opens up a lot of opportunities.”
Australian woman Jennifer Hawkins won the title of Miss Universe in 2004, an achievement which launched her modelling career and made her a household name.
As part of her selection, 19-year-old Zae will attend a number of workshops including hair styling and teeth whitening.
The Newcastle resident and former St John’s College student will attend the Miss Universe finals in Sydney in April.