¿Cuál idioma? – How Important is being able to Speak English in Becoming Miss Universe?
Lights … Camera …
That crazy time of year has arrived again. White sashes are being pinned, flubby bits are being retracted and false eye-lashes are going into overdrive as some of the hottest women from around the planet spend almost a month together in Mr. Trump’s Panopticon under the hawkish gaze of the Mid-West Mafia … lest one stray from the flock.
The next three weeks are going to be branded into the souls of all the contestants for the rest of their lives. For many they will be ‘those were the days’ memories… and for some others these next 3 weeks will go up into the ‘WTF’ ether of their life’s ‘history’…. or is it ‘herstory’?
One question that I am always asked from Miss Universe fans … and also from ‘non-fans’ (or whatever you would call the ‘antithesis of a fan’) is ‘How important is being able to speak English in becoming Miss Universe?”
In order to answer this question, we first have to understand the answer to the question ‘What is Miss Universe?’. .. so before reading on, I suggest that you have a read of a previous post of mine – “How to be a Beauty Queen and Influence People“.
In that post, I go into my thoughts on what Miss Universe is all about and if I was coaching one of the contestants, how I might go about prepping them for the pageant.
In short ‘Miss Universe’ is a BRAND. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
So now back to the question at the heart of this post – “How important is being able to speak English in becoming Miss Universe?”
Taking a wide-lens view of being Miss Universe let’s look at what she does:
Represents the Miss Universe Organization Around the World
Miss Universe is an ambassador that needs to promote a ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’ and a globally ‘aware’ image of the organisation around the globe
Her travel itinerary is going to be crazy for the next year, so she needs to travel well and be able to handle herself on her feet … that includes being painfully aware of what effect her body-language, clothes, way she walks and of course the WORDS she uses has on the people around her.
Miss Universe Represents her Country
Miss Universe has to be aware of the plethora of political and social issues that her country is facing, because like it or not, the world’s eyes are going to be focusing on her and she could have a direct or indirect impact on international affairs. … SCARY!
One example of how this could go bad is the whole Dayana Mendoza visits Guantanamo Bay incident. That wasn’t good PR for Miss Universe, the USA, Venezuela or for Dayana herself. What Dayana’s intentions were in the end are meaningless. It’s all in the ‘spin’, and in the end it’s the ‘spin’ that will remain in the history books to become fact.
Miss Universe Represents Herself
I’ve included this one here, but honestly speaking, in the eyes of Miss Universe management I don’t think that this representation is as important as the first two. This is where I have personally known many Miss Universe pageant contestants to fall down. The girls are very young, many with amazing ambition, talent and dreams for the future.
Many of the contestants go into the ‘game’ thinking that it’s a competition to show how much better, talented, clever and sexy they are compared to the next person.
If you think like this, you may as well pack your bags now.
The Reality of the Miss Universe Pageant
The 3-4 weeks that run up to the final Miss Universe pageant is one long psychological examination. It’s an exam of stamina. The Miss Universe gods don’t want to know how well you can perform on stage. They want to know how well you will represent the Miss Universe organisation when faced with a grueling schedule over an entire year. Can Miss Universe travel around the world, meet people that she might not necessarily want to meet and still be interesting? Can she pull of a cocktail party on short notice and win over a crowd even if she didn’t particularly like them? If she gets a call during her downtime to come and meet some VIP, how will she carry herself? Will she dress appropriately? Will she be able to portray the image that the MU Organisation needs her to portray 24/7?
When you look at these things, how many back-flips she can do, or how many degrees she has becomes secondary.
Back to the question – “How Important is being able to speak English in becoming Miss Universe?”
A Miss Universe that could speak fluent English and speak it ELOQUENTLY as far as logistics are concerned would naturally make life easier for Paula, Annette, Roston and the rest of the Miss Universe team. Press conferences would be smoother – no need for interpreters. Well… no need for 2-stage interpreting – that is interpreting from the mother tongue into English and then from that language into the target language depending on what country they are in.
While more developed countries have standards for interpreters, the interpreters that some countries proved might just not be reliable. Having two levels of interpretation makes it even more risky. It’s important for the MU team to understand what MU is saying too – just in case she says something controversial and they need to go into damage control later on.
The issue of interpreters though needs to be balanced with the ‘quality’ of who Miss Universe is.
Now we’re getting close to the answer! … so let’s get back to the issue of WINNING THE PAGEANT.
Should a non-native English speaking Miss Universe contestant use English or their mother-tongue during the pageant?
Have a look at this table I have put together for Miss Universe contestants that are Non-Native speakers of English:
Non-Native English Speaking Miss Universe Contestants Choosing to Speak English During the Pageant
As compared to:
Non-Native English Speaking Miss Universe Contestants Choosing to in their Own Language (and use an Interpreter when necessary)
The point I made about not being misunderstood even if your English is good was demonstrated very well by Swedish born BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. Have a read of this article.
Speaking some Scandinavian languages, I understood exactly what he meant when in English, he referred to the people affected by the spill as the ‘little people’. In Swedish, it means your regular folk. In English however, hearing someone saying this having no knowledge of Scandinavian languages, you would think that he is being arrogant, making himself out to be God-like over the ‘little people’.
So in answer to the question “How important is being able to speak English in becoming Miss Universe?”
It is a ‘nice to have’ but not necessarily a ‘need to have’. Riyo Mori and Stefanía Fernández didn’t have amazing English skills when they won the pageant and indeed both of them used Interpreters. Miss Universe provided English coaching for them, and I have personally witnessed the amazing improvement in the English of both of these ladies.
I know that the girls train their butts off all year – especially when coached by people like Ines Ligron. English can be learned and should be a secondary thought in comparison to the other things you’ll need to do to impress the judges and be crowned Miss Universe. Unless your English is GREAT and you can express yourself in every register of the language, I would highly recommend using an interpreter (that Miss Universe provides for you). It’s a smart tactic and could mean the difference between dragging your bags down the stairs of the hotel by yourself and throwing it into the back of a cab OR being upgraded to the Penthouse suite and be on a jet back to NYC ready for your new life as Miss Universe.
Good Luck Girls!… I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground … stay tuned 🙂
โชคดี… สู้ๆๆๆๆ Semoga Sukses ya! 加油! Buena Suerte! 幸運! удача! Held og lykke!
Stuart Jay Raj.