The organisers of Miss Universe 2020 were unable to hold the UK heats in London last December as police unexpectedly forced them to comply with lockdown amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But yesterday Miss Universe GB was crowned in a virtual event that head judge Dr. Vincent Wong called “the most exciting and extraordinary” final in all his years of working on the competition.
The eventual winner, Jeanette Akua, will be a familiar face to viewers of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.
Jeanette auditioned as a solo artist in X Factor Series 10, which aired back in 2013. She and fellow contestants Sharlene “SeSe” Foster and Riélle Carrington were encouraged to form a girl group called Miss Dynamix.
Mentored by Gary Barlow, Miss Dynamix ended up coming 10th in the competition.
The group disbanded soon after the X factor final but, undeterred, Jeanette formed a new act called Miss Treat Vibe, which made it all the way to BGT’s semi-finals in 2017.
Since then, she’s released a few solo singles before trying her luck in Miss Universe, where she beat out rivals Sophie Moulds and Amy Meisak to represent the country in May.
The South African-born 27-year-old has a degree in economics business development and master’s degree in international Economics.
She says she would like to use her Miss Universe GB role as a platform to mentor young girls to “challenge the status quo and have the nerve to take seats at high tables.”
Jeanette says she's looking forward to representing Great Britain in the international final in Florida in May.
Writing about her win on Instagram, Jeanette said: "This win means so much to me! It's more than just a crown…
"Pageants are more than just "beauty." It's bigger than that.
"It's about celebrating women and the many layers we come in. It's about being audacious and having the nerve to pursue your dreams.
“The winner of Miss Universe GB 2020, Jeanette Akua, is everything the winner of the crown should be…a professional woman, who is beautiful, physically fit and and emotionally intelligent…” says Dr. Wong.
“What better way of celebrating International Women’s Day?" he added, "than showing the world that nothing can stop the finalists of Miss Universe Great Britain this year."
"This is the most exciting and extraordinary final in my experience so far – the virtual final itself is a statement to show that when women come together to support one another, anything can happen!"
"All the girls have worked extra hard this year and faced challenges that have never been faced before to make it this far, and I applaud them for their dedication, discipline and hard work."
He said that Jeanette “represents everything the Miss Universe crown stands for – a professional woman who is beautiful, physically fit, emotionally intelligent, speaks well and is not afraid to challenge any toxic boundaries placed on women by society.”
The "Miss Universe" title was first used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude way back in 1926. After 1935, the increasingly difficult economic and political situation closed the competition down until 1952, when it was reinvented by new organisers.
In 1996, the franchise was bought by Donald Trump, who hung onto it until 2015 when he sold it following an ugly row about racist comments.
Last year, the title was won by South African Zozibini Tunzi, who collected the $5 million Mouawad Power of Unity Crown which is considered to be the single most valuable crown of any beauty pageant.
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