Prior to the finale on Wednesday, October 11, which is being jointly organised by The New Paper and Miss Universe Singapore organisation, Miss Universe Singapore contestants Mandi Cheung and Nadiah Sapuan, in an exclusive interview to IBTimes, Singapore reveal their ideals and the diligence required to support the weight of the crown and what it takes to reign the hearts of billions.
What inspired you to take part in this contest?
Mandi: I was feeling lost and depressed thinking and figuring about my goals and path in life before I participated in the MUS 2017. A friend suggested me that I do so to use this opportunity to learn more about myself and at the same time inspire others who share the same life journey.
Nadiah: As a woman, I faced several challenges. I was pressured to behave a certain way due to my gender. I was under constant judgment when I do things a girl wasn't suppose to do. It was tiring and I felt caged. Being in this contest, I would be honoured if I could set an example for some of the younger ones out there and tell them that it's okay to be different and to break their boundary.
What sets you apart from other contestants?
Mandi: I think that I am very down-to-earth and people find it easy to relate to me. I want to be a role model and inspiration to others, especially the underprivileged - that they should believe in their dreams and no matter what adversities they have faced, they can still succeed.
Nadiah: Every contestant is unique in her own way. For me, I am bold and I am always ready to push myself to the limit. A go-getter spirit sets me apart from other contestants.
What has been your toughest challenge so far?
Mandi: The toughest challenge for me is to juggle between my hectic work schedule as well as many other commitments required by the pageant. Being a flight attendant, I do not have fixed working days or hours; having to change flights, rushing between events or rehearsals before/after flights and dealing with jetlag and fatigue -- have been very challenging physically and mentally. Apart from that, I have to make time to hit to the gym and be more conscious about my diet. I'm glad I've come this far and finals are now just around the corner!
Nadiah: Time has been the toughest challenge for me so far. I had to manage my work, family and the pageant, all at a time.
What has been your best moment so far that you would cherish forever?
Mandi: It has to be the gym training and having meals with the fellow contestants! Having to endure and push ourselves through the workouts and picking the healthier meal options instead of the more delicious ones - everything is better when we encourage one another and knowing that we're not alone! It's heartwarming knowing that there are genuine and sincere friendships that have been forged through this journey, and they will carry on even after this pageant is over.
Nadiah: The best moment so far for me would be when the papers announced us out the public. It was an eye-opener for me as this is finally the chance for me to spread my message to the world and hope to have an impact on one's life.
How do you feel before the finale? Apprehensive or excited much?
Mandi: I think the time has past where I'm feeling apprehensive, but rather looking back and cherishing the moments we have shared and excited for the show we have trained to put up for everyone!
Nadiah: I am very much excited as I'm ready to show my family what I have been working so hard for and do them proud no matter what the result might be.
What are your plans after the contest?
Mandi: I intend to spend more time volunteering at the Girls' Home, as well as volunteering with the fellow contestants for their cause, now that I have found more people who believe in giving back and making the world a better place. I would also like to learn and help my boyfriend, a funeral director and undertaker, in his business. Just as Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
Nadiah: After the pageant, I would continue to work on my fitness and start bulking up again. I am always inspired by all the fitness models and wish to work as hard as them.
How do you plan to represent your country in the major event in November?
Mandi: I hope to represent Singapore displaying resilience that she had in the past, and wearing confidence on my sleeve.
Nadiah: The message that I stand for is strong and big. And that's how I plan to represent my country. Although I'm standing alone as an individual that does not mean that I must give up. I will continue to fight for my cause.
Who do you think is your biggest competitor?
Mandi: If I really have to pick, Amanda would be my biggest competitor in this pageant. She is well-spoken, dedicated, has a heart for others and carries herself very well. She would be a good role model and represent for Singapore.
Nadiah: The biggest competitor in this pageant would be myself. No one is perfect and I do have moments when I feel like giving up. So the constant reminder to myself to push is always in my mind.
Who is your favourite fashion icon?
Mandi: I have always admired the beautiful intricately designed gowns of Elie Saab and it would be a dream to ever don one. It is sophisticated, dreamy and you cannot take your eyes off them.
Nadiah: I do not have a single fashion icon. However, I do get my inspiration from movie characters and I incorporate their styles in me. Some example of the characters would be Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction or Mathilda from The Professional.
How do you think your life has changed since you joined the competition?
Mandi: I have pushed and challenged myself in managing my time and priorities, I'm constantly seeking self-improvement and always thinking as to how to give back to the society.
Nadiah: The pageant has taught me how to express my thoughts in a positive and effective way. It has changed me to be more matured to handle things. It changed me to be more open-minded and receptive.