Miss Universe is just around the corner, with just a little over one month left of queen Harnaaz’s reign. As much as we are sad about giving the crown up, we are also equally excited to see who would be continuing her legacy as Miss Universe 2022. As we wait for the actual competition to begin, let's meet all the contestants. The universe is expecting a total of 86 participants this year, therefore, we shall be meeting our ladies in a series of 8 articles, with around 11 girls in each. Let us begin -
1. Say Hello to ALBANIA!
Deta Kokomani is a 22 year old, pharma student, currently in her third year of university. She also has a certification in cosmetology and is very passionate about the art of expression. She also has a strong affinity for music, given that she studied piano at the Artistic High School of Durres for 6 years! She believes in the divine timing of the universe and considers that her being present at the Miss Universe stage is the path created by the universe itself for her to walk on to reach her destination. After being crowned as Miss Universe Albania on 10th June 2022 - Albania made the following statement -
“A chapter where I feel more confident & more confident than ever to represent the figure and values of Albanian women in the world. At the end of this experience I expect to be remembered not just as a beautiful girl, but as a woman who can really use the platform of this competition to make a difference in society”
We do love ourselves an aspirational, inspirational, powerful woman, and so does Miss Universe. We wish Deta all the very best for the competition of her life!
2. Introducing - ANGOLA!
I know what you are thinking. She looks familiar. Hmm… It's probably because she is Swelia António! Miss Supranational Netherlands 2020, who made the top 12 at Miss Supranational 2021 pageant for the Netherlands! She is an afro-dutch beauty queen who moved from Angola to the Netherlands with her family in 1999. She is a graduate in Non Profit, Public and Organisational Management. She has also completed her master’s degree in public administration. This 25 year old beauty has been into pageantry since 2017, where she was supposed to participate in Miss Africa Netherlands but could not do so because of some unforeseeable circumstances. During her reign as Miss Supranational Netherlands, Swelia was also advocating for education and was also associated with the Black Ladies Talk organisation. Angola has won the Miss Universe crown only once - With Leila Lopes in 2011. Do you believe this strong, vocal queen can bring the glory back for Angola? We sure do hope so!
3. Encantada ARGENTINA!
Bárbara Cabrera is a 26 years old model from Argentina, who began her modelling career at the age of 18 and was also selected as a finalist at Miss Universe Argentina 2018’s pageant. She also held the title for Miss Eco Argentina 2020, and represented her country Argentina at the Miss Eco International Pageant 2021, where she managed to make the list of top 20 finalists and also won the award for being the best in evening gown. Argentina has worn the most coveted crown for the Universe only once so far, that is in the year 1962 with Norma Beatrice Nolan and are vying for their second crown now. We have our fingers crossed Argentina, can’t wait to see your sun smile!
4. Let's Welcome - ARMENIA
Crowned just a little over a month ago, Kristina Ayanian is the Director of Client Experience at NASDAQ . She graduated with not one, but two degrees - one in finance and the other in global studies, both with distinction and also helped people with her founded non profit organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic in her residential country - America. Also not a fresher at pageantry, Miss Universe Armenia has had a history of joining and winning pageants for quite some time now. She made her pageant debut at a very young age and has since won numerous titles like Miss Boston. A few of y’all might even find her really familiar. That’s because Kristina was previously Miss Grand Armenia 2021 and represented her country at the Miss Grand International pageant, alongside Manika Sheokand of India. She is also very passionate about playing instruments and is in fact a very talented pianist too. She is a very talented and awarded dancer and actor as well. Apart from the glitz and glam, she has been awarded with Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold, Silver and Bronze Level Awards. This woman is also a short story writer. She has played various roles in life, including that of a news reporter and an Emmy nominee. One of the strongest queens this year, she has everything it takes to be a Miss Universe! Our best wishes are always with her!
5. Bon Bini - ARUBA!
Kiara Arends is a 24 year old Law graduate, currently pursuing her masters - L.L.M in International Business, Trade and Tax Laws. Yet another pageant veteran, Kiara has previously represented Aruba at Miss Teen International 2017 and was also a participant at Miss Teen Americas 2018 pageant.She is also the founder for B.U.M.P Aruba - a non-profit organisation aimed at helping women, especially mothers that were stricken by the Covid-19 Pandemic. This initiative was started by her in March 2020, right around the time when the people of her country were suffering the biggest blow from Corona. She says that she strives for greatness in everything that she sets her mind to do - one of the characteristics that the MUO loves and looks for. After their remarkable performance and the top 10 placement last year, Aruba has definitely chosen a queen that’s strong, independent and worthy of carrying forward Thessaly’s legacy at the Miss Universe competition. Nothing but unconditional support for this ambitious woman. Give it up for Aruba!
6.Let’s Meet - AUSTRALIA!
Monique Riley is a 27 year old Australian model with a bachelor's degree in Creative Industries. After completing her graduation, Riley auditioned for the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney, after which she began her career as a part time model and actor, simultaneously serving as an executive assistant helping run her partner’s construction company. As an actor, she is best known for her TV series - Home and Away, released in 2020, where she portrayed the role of Annabelle. All The Best Australia!
7. Ahlan - BAHRAIN!
Evlin Khalifa is only the second representative from this small country of the middle east, however, this gorgeous beauty aims at showcasing her country’s values and culture on the global stage because she is a proud Bahraini. Born to a mixed couple, her mother being Russian while her father is Bahraini, Evlin believes that her victory over the 300 other gorgeous ladies at the Miss Universe Bahrain competition is proof that her nation has a very multinational outlook and that her beauty in fact transcends borders. Besides this, Miss Khalifa is also a trained pianist and a professional model in her country and is very eager and determined to make her country and its people proud internationally. We wish Bahrain all the luck in the world for Miss Universe 2022!
8. Salut - BELGIUM!
Being a flight attendant, Miss Chayenne van Aarle surely knows how to fly high. The Miss Belgium Organisation described her as the spitting image of Princess Rosella, from one of our favourite childhood movies - Barbie as the Island Princess. The exact words of the organisation being - “Chayenne grew up in a castle full of neglected animals, from which her love for animals was born. As a child, she walked among zebras, kangaroos, camels and alpacas. As the daughter of hard-working parents, she quickly became independent and can now put that strength to good use in her Miss Universe adventure." Chayenne is also a very talented singer and as her reign as Miss Universe Belgium began, writing her own songs as well. She also made an anthem about body image and body shaming that she is using as her campaign for the upcoming Miss Universe competition, known as #selfmade. Give it up for Belgium!
9. Let’s Cheer For - BELIZE!
If you are a Miss Universe participant, Ashley Lightburn is the woman you need to fear. This woman is the epitome of perseverance, hard work and intelligence. The deadly combination the Universe craves. This 25 year old ambitious queen is pursuing her masters degree in international business administration. She is also a mathematics professor at the renowned University of Belize. Apart from this, Our queen belize is also a supporter of Women in S.T.E.M. What is that you ask? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. One highly educated woman, cheering for other educated women is a strong quality, especially when you are vying for the Miss Universe crown. Watch out for Belize y’all!
10. Swagatam - BHUTAN
For the first time in the history of Miss Universe the fans will witness a Bhutanese beauty grace the stage of the universe. Miss Bhutan - Tashi Choden Chombal not only holds the title of being Universe’s first Miss Bhutan, but is also amongst the first Bhutanese to openly declare her homosexuality. Being born as the daughter of a businessman that had to travel a lot, Tashi has spent a few years living in the Indian state of Nagaland. Her father was mostly away for business, which is why she and her mother shifted back to Bhutan when she was around three. After the death of both her parents, by the age of 14, she decided to use her personal contacts to get into the modelling industry, leaving her education behind. She went on to become a well known actress in her country later. She had revealed that she is bisexual, at the small age of 15, when homosexuality was still criminal in her country. The decriminalisation of homosexuality in Bhutan only happened in the year 2021, and therefore choosing an openly gay woman to be the first to represent themselves on the Miss Universe stage is a very big and applaudable step for the progress of their nation. Only good wishes for Bhutan!
11. Say Hello to - BOLIVIA!
I know I know you want to know the drama. We’ll save it for sometime later. Anyway, our new Miss Universe Bolivia is Maria Camila Sanabria Pereyra, previously crowned as Miss Supranational Bolivia 2023, she took over the reigns of not one but two of her sister queens - Miss Grand Bolivia 2022 Alondra Mercado and now the dethroned Miss Universe Bolivia 2022 Maria Fernanda Pavisic Rojas. This gives her the opportunity and the rights to represent Bolivia at all the three pageants - MU, MS and MGI, out of which she has already concluded her grand journey. With that being said, it is pretty evident that this beauty is not new to the concept of pageantry. Apart from being Bolivian God’s favourite child, she also holds a bachelors degree in Business management and one masters degree in commercial management. She is also a well known model in her country. Well, we hope the gods of pageantry bless her the same way her Bolivian gods did!