Nagma Shrestha, currently the National Director of Miss Universe Nepal, was crowned the Miss Universe Nepal in 2017, and Miss Nepal Earth in 2012. Shrestha is the first Miss Nepal to represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant held on 26 November 2017 in Las Vegas, USA.
Nagma was appointed as the first Miss Universe Nepal 2017 by The Hidden Treasure. Her role to bring the Miss Universe pageant franchise in Nepal is exemplary.
She is also the first woman to represent Nepal in two major international pageant competitions — namely Miss Earth (2012) and Miss Universe (2017).
In an interview with Eak Raj Bastola of Khabarhub, Shrestha talks about the significance of holding a beauty contest like Miss Universe Nepal, the latest updates on the procedure and eligibility criteria and much more. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
How does Nepal get the franchise of Miss Universe?
Miss Universe is a dream of every beauty queen. It comes ahead of all the beauty pageants. It has been three years that Nepal has been participating in the Miss Universe contest, yet the Miss Universe is in shadow and has not been able to establish as a brand in Nepal.
Moreover, Miss Universe is also said to be not much contented with the performance. Finally, we got the franchise of Miss Universe in Nepal from 2020 for four years.
My participation in seven beauty pageants including three internationals will help to promote and establish Miss Universe in Nepal.
The Miss Universe Nepal will be an independent pageant. Moreover, we have tried to be inclusive following the guidelines set by the Miss Universe Organization.
What are your plans to establish Miss Universe in Nepal?
This is our first year and the COVID-19 pandemic has added challenges to us. However, we have got a four-year-long affiliation to host Miss Universe Nepal.
We have already planned how to go through a sustainable way in the course of all these four years. We have a team of young, energetic and dynamic people both in Nepal and abroad.
We are launching the Miss Universe App especially dedicated to Nepal this year. We will register the participants and provide them training through this app.
Since it is a digital era, we want to evolve and go beyond websites. That’s why we have developed a world-class application for our contest.
However, since we decided to change the modality of the event to make it go with the health standards set to curb pandemic, we have decided to go virtual.
Going virtual will be a unique experience and it will also help pageantry to evolve. We are aware of the fact that we may face scores of hurdles, yet, we are working hard to minimize the problems.
How is Miss Universe different from others?
While organizing this contest, we are duly following the Miss Universe organization guidelines.
Miss Universe has no height and weight requirements, even transgender women are encouraged to participate in the event. So, it is different than any other beauty pageant.
Similarly, we have opened the floor to the participants throughout the country. Finally, I aim to bring the Miss Universe Crown to Nepal.
Nepal has been participating in the beauty pageants but has never won the title. As a participant, I know why. So, we are focusing on that too.
The main thing is that they have never invested in the training. We are planning to host Miss Universe 2022 in Nepal.
I am trying to fill the loopholes in the beauty pageants through this platform.
Any women who are between 18 and 28 years can participate. The event will give opportunities to people living outside Nepal as well.
Many Non-residential Nepalis can’t participate in beauty pageants in Nepal. We have tried to address that too. Aspiring candidates living outside Nepal can be a part of Miss Universe Nepal 2020, now.
How do you select the participants?
Participants will be enrolled through the online registration using our app. After that, internal jurists will select them through their performances.
Almost all events will be done through the app. We are hopeful that we can organize the finals as in the previous seasons. The only thing is that the audience will be virtual and the participants will maintain social distance and health protocols.
Quarter finalists will be provided virtual training from the international trainer this year.
We will hold the same rounds during the pageant just like Miss Universe including the swimsuit round, the evening gown as well as the question-answer round. Within those rounds, we have the freedom to go creative.
Every participant should make the woman confident.
Earlier, we had planned to do it traditionally but the pandemic changed a lot. Everything is free except for the nominal registration charge. All the expenses to journey to Miss Universe will be borne by us.
How are you working to bring positive vibes in the beauty pageants?
It’s not only the beauty pageant. It’s a leadership platform as well for it opens the avenues for opportunity.
We are not objectifying the woman. We are giving the true message of inclusivity. We are encouraging everyone to be the part of Miss Universe as a contestant, as a user, as a follower. We are trying to bring the revolution in the pageant industry in Nepal.
In recent days, the concept of beauty has changed a lot and an event like this will take it further ahead. Even the dark skin girl with an Afro hairstyle can win the world’s prestigious beauty pageants. This year, the title of Miss Universe was won by Zozibini Tunzi.
Her victory signals a different vibe of justice, inclusiveness and equality in the beauty pageant industry. Now, even the plus-size woman, plus size man is a model in the US. It is all due to confidence and training.
Both a title winner of the event in Nepal and now the Director of an organization committed to promoting such events, would you please share what the contestants should focus on to win the crown of Miss Universe World?
To win the Miss Universe title is not an easy task. You need to give an extra focus and preparation. You need a minimum of one and a half years for preparations.
For this, you have to be brave, bold, and beautiful. “Confidently beautiful” is the slogan of Miss Universe. So, every participant should be inbuilt with confidence. You have to be healthy as well and should be fit all round.
So, I want to encourage every woman who wants to be Miss Universe to focus on these aspects from now.
In other countries, they have training for at least one year. But here in Nepal, organizers provide training for about or less than one-month training.
So, this year we want to provide training for more than six months, an initiation started in the first year of the company.
Actually, we wanted to organize the pageants in April but the pandemic changed a lot. We are doing the main event in December this year. From next year, we will organize the event within the initial months of the year.
Likewise, we want the government to support Miss Universe. As participants, they represent not only their name but the nation, i.e. Nepal. So, if it wins, Nepal will get highlights, so we seek support from the government as well.
However, we want to focus on training through internationally renowned trainers.
Jonas Gaffud, who had formally trained pageant winners like Miss World 2013 Megan Young, will also be a part of the team as a consultant helping in the training of the contestants.
The queen mentioned that the organization is trying its level best to provide the participants. Similarly, this year Miss Universe Nepal panelists include Shawn C. McClain, Vice President, Business Development & Marketing, Miss Universe Organization, Anusha Peterson, Creative Director, Miss Universe Nepal, Manita Devkota, Miss Universe Nepal 2018, Zozibini Tunzi, Reigning Miss Universe 2019 and Indira Joshi as a special guest.
Beauty pageants often come under public scrutiny for valuing physical appearance only. What’s your take on this?
I think, before criticizing people need to know what happens in these pageants and what the contestants learn from it. Beauty pageants are not only about looking pretty; they are closely connected to personal development.
I have participated in four international pageants and three national pageants, and as someone who grew with pageantry, I can rightly say that the person I am right now is because of these pageants.
Beauty pageants allow the participants to interact with different people, and also learn from and help each other.
Likewise, it helps in the personality development of the participants. The experiences I gained from participating in all the pageants have empowered me, motivating me to teach what I have learned from others as well.
In addition to it, beauty pageants can be an asset to the country as well. The contestants not only represent themselves, but they take the name of their country as well in the international world stage.
That’s why we are working hard on Miss Universe Nepal being confident that we can provide the winner with the best facilities so that they brighten the name of our country as well.