Thursday, December 13 saw the final portion of preliminary competition at Miss Universe 2012. That’s where the lights, cameras and glamour happened on stage for the “Presentation Show.” This was my second time judging, and the Presentation Show was just as exciting for me as it was in Brazil last year. Again, the show was livestreamed online; if you missed it, you can watch it on the Miss Universe channel on YouTube.
Speaking of the stage, it looked stunning. The lighting design was elegantically dramatic, and the holiday visuals added a festive touch given the late time of year.
The judges get the best seat in the house – right in front of the stage and catwalk. Just as during the personality interviews, I was lucky to be seated next to the beautiful Crystle Stewart (Miss USA 2008). Completing our row were Amy Sodowsky from Planet Hollywood and Duane Gazi from Trump Models. The other preliminary judges sat on the other side of the stage.
The auditorium was filled with excitement and electricity, as audience members cheered for the contestants.
The show began with the delegates introducing themselves – dressed in stunning cocktail dresses. It’s interesting to see that many contestants looked somewhat different (and often better) in the Presentation Show than when I saw them on earlier competition days. Some had different hair style and makeup choice, some just exuded more confidence, and some looked better just because they were on a stage with lighting.
As diversity advocate, I was thrilled to see such wonderful diversity of beauty on the stage – confident women from so many different countries, cultures and racial backgrounds. That is a beautiful image.
Next, the prelim judges got our short spotlight moment – as the hosts introduced each judge one by one. I waved to the camera and gave up two thumbs up!
Then came the Evening Gown competition. Having watched pageants since I was young, I always love seeing the glamour and elegance of the Evening Gown phase. It was also great to have a close-up view to see the amazing variety of gown choices – with different styles, colors, fabrics.
Finally, the show ended with the Swimsuit competition. The energy really picked up in the building, as the ladies really strutted down the catwalk. I was really intrigued by the different ways in wihch contestants walked, and how that affected their overall impression. It takes much confidence to walk on stage in a bikini and high heels – and that really showed as the contestants really dazzled with energetic personalities in this phase of competition.
The Swimsuit phase is when things really got dramatic on stage. It was raining this night in Las Vegas. Earlier in the evening, I noticed drops of water coming down from the theater ceiling. The water drops were hitting my judges’ row, so were not initially affecting the contestants on stage. But at some point during the Swimsuit competition, I (and I’m sure audience members) noticed water dripping onto the middle of the stage, right in the contestants’ normal pathway. It sounded like everyone in the theater was holding their collective breath hoping that contestants would not fall. I was on pins and needles hoping the delegates would not slip in the water. In fact, the audience started cheering and applauding any time a contestant navigated around the water. Eventually, the hosts did some chatting to give the production team time to tape off the affected area so that contestants could avoid the water spot. The competition finished without further incident, but it made for one very heart-pounding night! And at least if water were to hit the stage, it was fitting that it happened during Swimsuit.
All the contestants then came back on stage to wrap up the show. That was a beautiful sight, though I was busy thinking about my judging decisions at the time.
With the preliminary competition done, it was clear to me that the field is very strong this year. I can’t say anything about how I voted but I can say there are so many contestants who exemplify the new Miss Universe slogan – Confidently Beautiful. Each young lady found her own way to SHINE in person and on stage, SPEAK well during interviews and with her overall presence, and WIN by accepting the challenge to be her best at Miss Universe.
Like everyone else, I’m excited to see which contestants make it to the semi-finals during the December 19 pageant telecast! Only some will advance in the competition and only one deserving lady will be crowned Miss Universe 2012. But I hope all 89 contestants found their experience to be a WIN for their lives.