Miss Universe Singapore: The top 15 announced
After coming close to winning last year's Miss Universe Singapore (MUS), Miss Poojaa Gill is back again to try for this year's crown.
She was among 15 women selected to make it through to this year's finals.
Thirty-four shortlisted contestants were at yesterday's audition, held at the Singapore Press Holdings' auditorium, for the chance to make it to the finals.
Miss Gill, 25, a full-time model, has had plenty of experience in beauty pageants and even appeared on Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 2 in 2014.
She told The New Paper: "I feel really happy to be in the top 15. But then again, I don't want to speak too soon.
"I came very close to winning last year's MUS, so of course I was really heartbroken (when I didn't win).
"But I'm very excited to see what might happen this year and hopefully, things will be better for me."
Despite her impressive portfolio in pageants and modelling, she was still nervous during yesterday's auditions.
TIPS: Ms Nuraliza Osman and Ms Mona Gill (in foreground) were briefing the 25 contestants who got through the first round of auditions. TNP PHOTOS: JEREMY LONG
Miss Gill, a TNP New Face 2006 finalist, has been in various beauty pageants such as Miss Asia Pacific World 2014, which she won, and Miss Eurasia 2016, where she won a subsidiary title Miss Asia.
She said: "I had butterflies in my stomach and I was really nervous because I wanted this (referring to MUS) very badly."
From now until the finals, she will be focusing on trying to gain weight and becoming more curvy for the bikini segment.
For round one of the audition, the 34 shortlisted applicants had to go on stage to introduce and share something about themselves.
Twenty-five women proceeded to round two, where they had to do a catwalk in a bikini and answer a question asked by one of the five judges.
The five judges of the Miss Universe Singapore 2016 auditions were (from left) Ms Nuraliza Osman, Ms Mona Gill, Mr Simon Leong, Dr Ronnie Yap and Mr Yeoh Wee Teck.
Another top 15 contestant, Miss Patricia Eng, who is also the oldest in the pageant, said she was happy to be in the competition because she had not expected to qualify.
In a previous interview with TNP, she said she was worried about being too old for the competition, but now, that does not bother her.
The 27-year-old self-employed jewellery designer said: "I'm actually relieved about my age now. I believe that 27 is still okay to join and that age doesn't matter.
"I was so nervous when they were announcing the top 15, I was praying (in my heart), 'Please let me in, let me in, this is my last try'."
The pageant's cut-off age is 27.
For the competition, Miss Eng is prepping herself by resting more, eating well and exercising.
This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.
SNAP: (From left) Miss Shona Woo, Miss Sonya Elisabeth Branson and Miss Joeypink Lai posing for a wefie with the MUS 2016 banner.
For the first time, TNP will be the pageant's official media partner and co-organiser with the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.
The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000, among other prizes.
TNP New Face 2015 finalist Joeypink Lai was also one of the 15 selected for this year's MUS.
Miss Lai, 24, who was an air stewardess for three years and is now a real estate agent, said: "It might not be my first competition, but I was still really nervous (for the auditions)."
One of the judges, Ms Nuraliza Osman, who is also the national director of the pageant, said: "I'm really pleased with the standard of contestants we have this year.
"They're all tall and truly multiracial so we have a great representation of the diversity of Singaporeans."
Ms Nuraliza, who won Miss Universe Singapore in 2002, said: "It shows that they are thinking ahead and truly want to make a difference using the title accorded to them should they win MUS 2016."
Miss Universe S'pore prizes
The winner of Miss Universe Singapore 2016 gets $10,000 cash, a Canon camera worth $1,000, a year's wellness services from Beaute Hub worth $24,000 and a year's gym membership worth $9,000 from BodyBurn Fitness Singapore.
- Presented by: Singapore Turf Club
- Official imaging partner: Canon
- Official car: BMW
- Official wellness partner: Beaute Hub
- Finale venue partner: Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
- Official radio station: ONE FM 91.3