AS THE saying goes, it does not matter if you get knocked down, what matters is that you get back up.
Samantha Katie James showed Malaysia that sometimes one just has to take a step back and improve oneself before stepping out again to reach personal goals.
For the 23-year-old, it was taking home the Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 crown.
Second time’s the charm for this model and artist, who took on intense training and televised challenges, when she was crowned the new Miss Universe Malaysia.
She was evidently shocked and burst into tears as her predecessor, Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 Kiran Jassal presented her with the crown and sash.
Samantha was a finalist in the 2013 pageant when she was 18.
She admitted that she was not ready then, but she was well prepared this time around.
“When I fail to reach a goal, I keep trying until I achieve it,” said the Chinese-Brazilian beauty who speaks four languages and is now picking up Portuguese.
She beat out 16 other hopefuls and will be representing Malaysia on the international stage in the later part of 2017.
Along with her title, she took home cash prize of RM50,000 from Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation, RM2,000 cash by main sponsor senZues and sponsored prizes worth more than RM150,000.
Samantha also won the subsidiary title Miss Tsubaki Crowning Glory and was chosen as the face of Ash Be Nimble and La Juiceria.
The ceremony, held at the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, saw Dana Low, 22, Ollemadthee Kunasagaran, 25, and Laura Simon, 25, walking away as first, second and third runners-up respectively.
In addition to the dazzling display of exquisite evening gowns by 17 designers as well as chic swimwear, the gala night featured performances by Vince Chong, Zhen Xiao and funnyman Harith Iskander.
After the crowning, a jubilant Samantha laughingly told reporters that she could not wait to go home and see her puppy.
Her plan now is to use her title to do good.
“I want to make a huge impact so that people will remember me for what I did,” she added.
James grew up in Klang and was regarded as the class clown.
She dreams of becoming an icon with her own talk show like Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.
When asked how would she stand out among international competitors who may be taller, the 170cm-tall lass said height was just a number and that she believed that one’s aura was more important.
“I have worked with so many taller models and all my good friends are 180cm or taller, but what is important is that you let what is inside you shine through.”
She said that she would continue to work on her speech, practise her catwalk and poise as well as improve relationships with people.
“My preparation started way before the competition and day by day, I worked to improve myself so that I could be at my best at the final competition,” she added.
The Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation (Mumo), conceived in 1962 and revamped in 2010, is the longest-running pageant in Malaysia.
Its national director Elaine Daly said the organisation was a platform that empowered young girls and made dreams come true.
“The pageant has come a long way from the days of being purely an opportunity to show a beautiful smile or body.
“It has become a live experience with strong, smart, beautiful women, affording a platform to create positive changes around the world.”
“In today’s world where women are becoming increasingly influential and leaders in society, it is imperative that organisations such as Mumo help to guide and mould our Malaysian beauties in turn to inspire and empower young women,” she said.
Daly said Kiran had performed amazingly in the international stage and there would be expectations on Samantha to do equally well or better.
“I always tell the girls that we are in it to win it, regardless.”
The national competition this year saw a diverse mix of young women, two of whom were national athletes.
Catch the crowning of The Next Miss Universe 2017 on DIVA on March 15, 7pm and online via www.hurr.tv at 8.30pm.