THE RESULTS (Sep. 12, 2011)

Well, that was... interesting... So it turns out by a bizarre turn of fate that Angola pulls a surprise win of Miss Universe 2011! Leila Lopes is the first winner from her country ever and Africa now has its first Miss Universe since 1999. Somehow my winner China's Zi Lin Luo had to settle for 4th runner up which disappointed me terribly as this could have been a win I was ready to put money on but I guess it's good that I didn't because sometimes pageants can be so incredibly random. The judging was really all over the map this year but in spite of that, I correctly predicted 12 of the 16 semifinalists, plus 3 alternates and one of those alternates was the winner (Angola). The other two were Panama and Netherlands and the only delegate who placed who wasn't in my list at all was the winner of the Internet vote, Portugal who also placed for the first time in history. Portugal hasn't competed since 2002 at Miss Universe. It was interesting to note that I thought only one of the Portuguese-speaking nations of Angola, Brazil and Portugal would place but it turns out that all 3 of them placed!! I will post my final commentary on September 19.



Winner=Angola-Leila Lopes

Winner=China-Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo*

1st Runner Up=Ukraine-Olesia Stefanko

1st Runner Up=France-Laury Thilleman*

2nd Runner Up=Brazil-Priscila Machado

2nd Runner Up=Greece-Iliana Papageorgiou

3rd Runner Up=Philippines-Shamcey Supsup

3rd Runner Up=Venezuela-Vanessa Goncalves*

4th Runner Up=China-Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo

4th Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Viviana Ortiz*

FINALISTS (alpha'l)


Australia-Scherri-Lee Biggs

Colombia-Catalina Robayo*

Costa Rica-Johanna Solano

Costa Rica-Johanna Solano*

France-Laury Thilleman

Kosovo-Aferdita Dreshaj*

Panama-Sheldry Saez

Aruba-Gillain Berry

Portugal-Laura Goncalves

USA-Alyssa Campanella*



Colombia-Catalina Robayo

Malaysia-Deborah Henry

Kosovo-Aferdita Dreshaj

Spain-Paula Guillo

Netherlands-Kelly Weekers

Australia-Scherri-Lee Biggs*

Puerto Rico-Viviana Ortiz

Brazil-Priscila Machado*

USA-Alyssa Campanella

Ukraine-Olesia Stefanko*

Venezuela-Vanessa Goncalves

Philippines-Shamcey Supsup*


ALTERNATES: Panama*, Angola*, Netherlands*, Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chile, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Mexico, Israel


* = made actual top 16

THE PREDICTIONS (Sep. 10, 2011)
Here we go, folks! It's time to narrow it down and post the final predictions. Like always, this is so difficult and this list was rearranged so many times. Some delegates have climbed significantly and others have fallen hard. Apparently, there is yet another format change. It will be a top 16 (including the Internet vote), narrowed down to top 10 to compete in gown and then top 5 for the final question. So after a lot of careful consideration, without further ado, here are my final predictions for Miss Universe 2011.


Winner=China-Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo

I've had my mind made up for a while now and her performance in the preliminaries only confirmed that this tall, striking, adorable woman from the most populated country in the world is my winner. With some powerful new direction and a lot working in her favor, Zi Lin is absolutely the one to watch.

1st Runner Up=France-Laury Thilleman

Laury is amazing. She just has an amazing everything! The body is fabulous. She has a great personality and I like this gown too. It bears a resemblance to what Venezuela's Monica Spear wore during Miss Universe 2005. I am looking for this woman to do extremely well this year.

2nd Runner Up=Greece-Iliana Papageorgiou

This woman shot way up my list after preliminaries. That's a body to die for and a very elegant gown. I actually love the shoes and the bold red lipstick and her hair was styled excellently. Iliana should have a strong showing this year.

3rd Runner Up=Venezuela-Vanessa Goncalves

Venezuela has quite the body and this gown is quite the head-turner. As expected, Venezuela is prepared to comeback strong after being denied last year after becoming the first country to win two years in a row the previous year. Vanessa speaks well also so she is expected to continue the Venezuelan tradition of placing high if she places at all.

4th Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Viviana Ortiz

Puerto Rico has become pretty undeniable. They have a team that invests a lot into their success and this gown is winning much praise and she has quite the body on her and I think they will want it to make the telecast, hence I placed her here.


Colombia-Catalina Robayo

She actually was always in my list because I find her very lively even in her close-up web interview and that was only emphasized by this wild gown presentation. She was all over that stage making sure you noticed her and this is another one that I think would make good TV just because of this gown's shock value and I actually loved how she worked it. Also, she has been noticed in the press recently due to a picture that was taken of her with her legs crossed wearing a skirt and it looked like she wasn't wearing panties so this may generate some interest in her. I pointed out that in recent years, Colombia seems to place in even numbered years but that could easily break this year.

Costa Rica-Johanna Solano

Oh, that body. This athletic beauty with a nice personality is a major find from a country that rarely places and this makes her the Yanina Gonzalez (Paraguay 2004) of this pageant. This gown caused her to fall a few spots on my list but she is certainly one to watch.

Kosovo-Aferdita Dreshaj

Aferdita is tall and striking and just has a phenomenal body and she seems very sweet so I'm looking for her to do well. I'm not so much a fan of this gown but she knows how to work those modelling skills.

Aruba-Gillain Berry

She was a lot higher earlier but after preliminaries, I became less certain about her and so she fell to this position. She had a noticeable trip during the preliminary gown competition which triggered an audience gasp but I'm hoping the judges will recognize how stunning this woman is and forgive that.

USA-Alyssa Campanella

Like I said earlier, the competition is intense this year and as much as I love Alyssa, I think she is content with just being Miss USA and will turn it down a bit for Miss Universe like some of the other stronger Miss USAs have done in the past. She has had to deal with the criticisms of people who have been saying that she is too thin although she is naturally that way so placing as a finalist this year is going to be an uphill climb for her.


Malaysia-Deborah Henry

I'm quite sure Deborah impressed during interviews as I mentioned earlier, I felt she had the best close-up web interview. She also has a quiet, understated elegance in how she carries herself so I am looking for her to get a spot.

Spain-Paula Guillo

The crowd loved this girl during the preliminaries as do I and that gave me the confidence to put her in my list. She just has a vibrant, lively personality and I just think she's gorgeous. I also think it would be fitting for Spain to place this year given that their only Miss Universe, Amparo Munoz, who won the crown for Spain in 1974 died earlier this year. I can totally see her winning the judges over in interview so keep an eye on her.

Australia-Scherri-Lee Biggs

I still like her but she is fizzling. I had her placed higher earlier and she still has that Aussie fun and fresh look and personality so we'll see what happens.

Brazil-Priscila Machado

The crowd became loud and boisterous as this girl worked the stage. She's the homecrowd girl and I think that she can do it. I mentioned earlier that I felt one of either Angola, Brazil or Portugal would place as they are the Portuguese-speaking nations participating in this pageant so I am giving the edge to Priscila.

Ukraine-Olesia Stefanko

This gown is quite the eye-catcher and I figure Ukraine has been one to watch in recent years so I'm giving her a spot.

Philippines-Shamcey Supsup

And my pick for the Internet vote would be Philippines naturally. Shamcey's countrymen will vote in droves for their girl as Filipinos are avid pageant fans. Shamcey seems to be playing the role well.


Panama-Sheldry Saez

I can honestly say I'm a bit uneasy about making her an alternate because Panama is hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant so she could be a political pick but when I watched her during the preliminaries, I became unsure because her legs looked a bit stumpy and I question the styling in gown and the red earrings. At the same time, she could be up there but I just don't know who to replace.

Angola-Leila Lopes

She appears to be the strongest of the African nations but that doesn't necessarily make her semifinalist material. She also stumbled in the preliminary gown competition and I wasn't exactly wowed by her close-up web interview so I just don't find her strong enough.

Netherlands-Kelly Weekers

This is another one that others seem to like that I just don't find strong enough.

Trinidad & Tobago-Gabrielle Walcott

Again, she was 2nd runner up at Miss World 2008 and she seems to have altered her performance to match that of a Miss Universe delegate. I like the color of her gown but in swimsuit, I think her legs may not be long enough in this competitive year so I'm just not sure enough about her so I'm placing her here.

Nicaragua-Adriana Dorn

I noticed her during preliminaries. Others were talking about her and I didn't really think much of her but it was only enough for me to put her as an alternate.


Chile-Vanessa Ceruti

She's a possibility. Again, her face looks a bit long to me but she seems to have performed quite well and has a decent body so let's see what happens.

Slovak Republic-Dagmar Kolesarova

Earlier, I saw stunning headshots of her and thought she would be a contender but she didn't look like those pictures in person so I wonder about her. She's decent in terms of body and gown but I think she bombed interview so we'll see how she does.

Sweden-Ronnia Fornstedt

Well, she just won the Photogenic award and she had an okay performance during the preliminaries but it wasn't enough for me to place her any higher.

Mexico-Karin Ontiveros

I think they will pass on her this year because I just wasn't impressed with her close-up web interview. She seemed to have performed decently in preliminaries but it wasn't really enough to change my mind. The pressure is also on since she is from the country of the reigning Miss Universe.

Israel-Kim Edri

She fell hard after preliminaries because she has a nice look to her in terms of face and hair but that body is tragic. Those wide hips and she has a bit of a paunch on the belly happening. The gown wasn't the best choice either.

And I'll throw out some other names: Czech Republic has placed 4 years in a row but I wasn't wowed by this year's delegate, Finland has a nice face but her styling is just not good and her body isn't on the level for this competition. Switzerland is another maybe but I just don't think she will be strong enough. Poland and Russia seemed to be noticed by others but I didn't feel strongly enough about them. Hungary is on and off at times but the gown turned me off. Paraguay has a decent body but the face is a no for me. Haiti was one that I thought would win Congeniality but that award went to Montenegro. I wonder if Haiti's unique speaking style might win her points.

So there we have it! And we will know the truth on Monday, September 12, live from Sao Paulo, Brazil on NBC! Until then!


Preliminaries are coming up on September 8 and can be viewed at and the finals are on September 12 so soon my final predictions will be posted but I'm going to do a quick run through of some thoughts I have of each delegate. These judgments are based on what I have seen so far through the photos on and some impressions from other pageant related boards and websites. This year also has the most delegates in the history of Miss Universe. 89 contestants!

Aruba Australia 1. Albania - Other people seem to like her. Some say she bears a slight resemblance to Ivanka Trump so could this help her?? Also, another thing to remember is that Albania placed in 2009 and 2010 so will the streak continue or stop this year? She's not in my list currently because I don't think she quite has the body.

2. Angola - This is another one that other people seem to like that I can sense a weakness in. I think people want to include an African in their list and figure that she is the strongest of the Africans and add to that she comes from a Portuguese-speaking country like this year's host country of Brazil. I can see it facially but in terms of body and presentation, I think she lacks the confidence. She seems a bit subdued when I watched her close-up interview so right now for me, she's a question mark.

3. Argentina - I don't think her body is particularly strong. I don't see her placing.

4. Aruba - STUNNING!!!!! I definitely want to see this tall, striking, natural beauty do very well this year. Gillain is in my top 5 right now currently and she has an amazing gown. I also think she expresses herself and she has such a pleasant face and smile.

5. Australia - I think Australia has been doing well in recent years with good reason. They have developed a formula and send refreshing, down-to-earth appealing delegates and Australia has placed as 3rd runner up in 2009 and 2nd runner up last year and as pointed out earlier, could she finish another spot higher or even take it all?

6. Bahamas - Of course, she is the girl who defeated the odds and became the first woman to compete at Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe without winning Miss USA. Anastagia is certainly experienced and expresses herself well but is it going to be enough on this level of competition? She didn't place at either Miss Teen USA and Miss USA so there's lots to consider here. I'll be watching her during preliminaries.

7. Belgium - Belgium has a 2-year streak going placing in 2009 and 2010 but I'm thinking it will probably stop this year. I don't think an elementary school art project should be worn as a gown even if it isn't meant for competition.

8. Bolivia - I don't think so. She is one of the oldest delegates competing this year but I can't see her making enough of an impact.

9. Botswana - Their first participant in the history of this pageant won Miss Universe 1999. This year's delegate is not up to par.

10. Brazil - The host country's delegate seems to have endearing qualities. I think some speculate that another Portuguese-speaking country like Angola or Portugal may place this year instead of her. As a result, Priscila has become a wild card for many. Brazilian audiences in the past (particularly in the 60s and 70s) were quite loud and passionate about their delegates so if she doesn't place, I fear an audience reaction of Miss Universe 1993 and 2007 proportions.

11. British Virgin Islands - This country has never placed and I don't expect that to change this year.

12. Canada - My country hasn't placed since 2006 and I don't expect that to change this year as I just don't find her to be strong enough.

13. Cayman Islands - She speaks well but Cayman Islands has never placed and this year's delegate will not change that.

14. Chile - Chile's back with a delegate who is a possibility. I've seen some pictures though where her face seems a little long and her red gown might be deemed a smidge too provocative so she will be one to watch during preliminaries

China Costa Rica 15. China - After last year, China got some powerful direction and did a complete 180 and still is my winner and I don't think that's going to change. I would be extremely happy to see Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo take it all. She's tall and has commanding stage presence and on top of that, she is adorable! I liked her close-up and am hoping she will go all the way.

16. Colombia - Another strong possibility. Colombians know the score and have a great track record at Miss Universe. You may have noticed that recently Colombia has placed in even numbered years (i.e. 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2000, 1998) so will that trend continue or will it break this year?

17. Costa Rica - Johanna, I hereby dub thee the Yanina Gonzalez of this pageant. A total find from a country that rarely places. With that knockout body and just overall gorgeousness, I expect to see this one do extremely well this year.

18. Croatia - I don't think she will place. She's not particularly strong in any category.

19. Curacao - She cleans up pretty well but I don't see her placing.

20. Cyprus - Other people seem to be taking notice of her but I don't think she's tall enough or toned enough.

21. Czech Republic - Of all countries right now, Czech Republic currently has the longest streak in the semifinals (4 years from 2007 to 2010) so will it continue this year or is it time for the Czechs to stand aside? This year's girl could place but I'm not totally certain at this stage.

22. Denmark - This one I also don't find strong in any particular category. Denmark has had some surprise placements before but I still can't see this one placing.

23. Dominican Republic - She's prepared as most Latin delegates are so she could very well do it but still I wonder if she will be perceived to be a bit overbearing perhaps.

24. Ecuador - She doesn't have the body so it will be another year out for the land where the hemispheres meet.

25. Egypt - The land of ancient wonders and modern progress still has never placed in the history of this pageant and I don't expect that to change this year.

26. El Salvador - Height is usually an issue for delegates from this country. She is not expected to place.

27. Estonia - Not a contender.

Finland France 28. Finland - She's actually quite pretty. She has a Britney Spears-ish look to her particularly in her close-up video but I question the body and the wardrobe.

29. France - Gorgeous. She has tremendous presence too. The camera loves her and I love her. Expect to have a high ranking in my list this year!

30. Georgia - This country's among the newer ones to compete at Miss Universe but they still have a lot to learn. Not this year.

31. Germany - Isn't it funny how the last two women representing Germany to place at Miss Universe were both country-hoppers? In 2002, Natascha Borger who placed representing Germany was originally from Venezuela and competed at Miss Venezuela 2000 and prior to that Germany's 1989 representative, Andrea Stelzer was from South Africa and was even Miss South Africa 1985. It seems to me that Germany just isn't attracting strong contenders and I wonder if that will change. As for this year's delegate, I don't see it happening.

32. Ghana - Miss Minnesota USA 2009 gets her shot at Miss Universe and even though she placed at Miss USA 2009, I don't see her pulling it off this time around.

33. Great Britain - I don't think she's strong enough to place this year.

34. Greece - This one I toss and turn on. Sometimes she's a yes and other times she's a no so I'm sensing a lack of consistency with her. I'll be watching her closely during preliminaries to figure out what to do with her. Her close-up was okay to me so she could do it. I did point out an Olympic connection with China and Brazil being host countries and the Olympics originated in Greece and they hosted in 2004 so I'm wondering if there's a connection there.

35. Guam - It's another year out for Guam.

36. Guatemala - This was the girl who was supposed to represent Guatemala last year but she had a foot injury and as a result, her replacement delegate ended making a surprise entry into the top 10 last year. Will luck strike twice for Guatemala? God, I hope not.

37. Guyana - Not this year.

38. Haiti - I think she could easily take the Congeniality award this year. She's very fun-loving. I don't know if that will sway the judges though.

39. Honduras - I don't see it happening this year. I've noticed in recent years that they're trying so maybe one year it will happen but not this one.

HungaryIsrael 40. Hungary - She has been in and out of my list and currently she's out but Hungary has surprised us before so I'll definitely be watching her during preliminaries.

41. India - It looks like this will be the 4th year in a row that this former pageant powerhouse will miss the cut.

42. Indonesia - Her gown reminds me of a blanket I had years ago but again, this year's delegate doesn't have the body.

43. Ireland - This country had a strong contender last year but this year's delegate isn't expected to place.

44. Israel - She definitely has an appealing look but I need to analyze her particularly during the preliminary swimsuit competition because I need to get a better look at her body to decide for sure.

45. Italy - I'm sure she's a lot of fun but I don't see her placing.

46. Jamaica - Jamaica did extremely well last year placing as 1st runner up but this year's delegate is not a contender.

47. Japan - She's one of the weaker Japanese delegates in recent years. I don't see her placing.

48. Kazakhstan - I don't think there is anything particularly strong about her but she could be a surprise.

49. Korea - I think some find her sweet and appealing but I don't find her strong enough for this year.

50. Kosovo - I have her in my list right now but I have to watch her during preliminaries because the second-guessing thing is happening with her in spite of Kosovo doing well in recent years. She's tall and has a great body so she is one to watch.

51. Lebanon - This country tries and I appreciate that but it won't happen this year.

MalaysiaNetherlands52. Malaysia - Well done, Malaysia. This country has only placed once which was back in 1970. I think Deborah has the best close-up web interview with very eloquent answers and she carries herself in a very regal manner. She also is from that notable class of Miss World 2007 delegates which had 2 1st runner ups in recent years (Ada De La Cruz in 2009 and Yendi Philipps in 2010) and Deborah was a semifinalist at that pageant. She is in my list and will likely stay there.

53. Mauritius - She has potential to be a surprise. I think a lot of people automatically deem Mauritius as an unlikely suspect but this one actually looks promising so we'll see what happens.

54. Mexico - She really disappointed after her close-up web interview. She just seemed very nonchalant. I thought she had potential but is really fizzling to the point where I don't know if I'll even have her as an honorable mention but I will have my eye on her during preliminaries.

55. Montenegro - Not strong enough so not this year.

56. Netherlands - A lot of people really like her but she's a question mark to me. I think she doesn't quite have the body and she's okay I suppose in interview so right now I have her as an alternate but I'm wondering what will happen during preliminaries so I'll be watching her.

57. New Zealand - The Kiwis seem to have been trying in recent years but I don't see it happening this year.

58. Nicaragua - Some other people seem to like her but she isn't in my list right now. I'll see how she does in preliminaries but I think the judges might not warm up to her, particularly since there's no trace of an accent when she speaks.

59. Nigeria - It's another year out for Nigeria.

60. Panama - Panama is slated to host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant so some think that may work in Sheldry's favor. I think she's strong all around so I wouldn't be surprised to see her up there.

61. Paraguay - I think some people are noticing her but she's not a contender to me.

62. Peru - Again, other people seem to like her but I just don't see it.

63. Philippines - I'm pretty sure she will win the Internet vote. There has been renewed interest after making the top 5 last year.

64. Poland - This one is a huge maybe. I can see her placing but I don't think has potential to go too far in the competition so I will be watching her during preliminaries to determine where to place her.

65. Portugal - This one also has potential to surprise. I think she interviews quite well and swimsuit and gown are looking decent. Brazil being a Portuguese speaking country. Keep an eye on her. She's among my alternates at this time and some suspect that if Brazil or Angola doesn't place that Portugal may do it.

Puerto RicoSpain66. Puerto Rico - She could easily make it. Puerto Rico has traditionally been one to watch and although Viviana wasn't exactly deemed a favorite when she won her national title, she still appears to be quite strong overall.

67. Romania - I don't see it happening this year.

68. Russia - She's a chameleon. Sometimes she looks great and other times, I'm not so sure. I just don't have room for that in my lists this year.

69. Serbia - Probably not. I think she has a nice demeanor but just isn't strong enough.

70. Singapore - Singapore hasn't placed since hosting the pageant way back in 1987. This country has to really bring it to be noticed so it's not happening this year.

71. Slovak Republic - Earlier, I saw gorgeous headshots of this woman and then seeing her in more untouched photos, I was disappointed. She has a decent body and has her angles facially but interview was quite disappointing so this will probably keep her out.

72. Slovenia - They placed in 2007 but it won't happen this year.

73. South Africa - I can't see this country's 3 year streak continuing with this girl. She has a decent interview but just doesn't have the body for this level of competition.

74. Spain - I like her. I would like to see her do well but other people don't seem to be jumping on board but facially she's strong and she has a nice body and she is very expressive in interview so I can see her placing.

75. Sri Lanka - This year's delegate isn't strong enough to place.

76. St. Lucia - I think she has a youthful vibrance but her chances of placing are very slim.

77. Sweden - This one I'm also more unsure about. She's decent overall but I don't think she's quite good enough to place although she might do it but it seems unlikely.

78. Switzerland - This one is also a maybe. I could go either way on her so I'll be keeping an eye on her during preliminaries to determine for sure.

79. Tanzania - Not this year.

80. Thailand - She also could get the Internet vote but I still it will go to Philippines. This one isn't strong enough to make it on her own.

81. Trinidad & Tobago - She was 2nd runner up at Miss World 2008 but Miss Universe is not the same pageant as Miss World so right now she's one of the biggest question marks. She's either in or out. Right now, I'm leaning towards out but it is possible to see her up there.

82. Turkey - Not enough impact. I don't see it happening.

83. Turks & Caicos - They'll pass on her.

84. U.S. Virgin Islands - They'll also pass on her.

USAVenezuela85. Ukraine - I can see her placing. I think Ukraine has won favor with the organization and this year's delegate looks like a decent choice.

86. Uruguay - Hmmm.... I think this one could use a bit more energy/enthusiasm. She looks decent but I can see her being cut.

87. USA - Alyssa's beautiful face seems to be winning her the praise she is due. I think a lot of people have high expectations of her and it will be interesting to see how she handles the pressure. My only concern really is her height because there are quite a few taller delegates competing this year.

88. Venezuela - As is expected, Venezuela is among the strongest competitors. She has the body and she does express herself well and I think Venezuela will make a comeback this year.

89. Vietnam - She will shy in comparison to those preceding her but one of the preliminary judges is of Vietnamese decent so she may get votes from him but I don't see her placing.

So those are some brief comments on each delegate but nothing is final until after preliminaries when everything could turn upside down. I will post my final predictions a few days after carefully reviewing each delegate in the preliminaries.


Here are some pictures of some Miss Universe 2011 delegates on their first day of arrivals and they show that this is going to be one intense competition!

Paraguay and USA pose in Brazilian carnival themed outfitsReigning Miss Universe Ximena Navarrete of Mexico poses with Mexico's representative for 2011, Karin OntiverosAruba looking absolutely stunning!
Philippines and Costa RicaChina getting her hair doneVenezuela
Japan, Puerto Rico, Dominican RepublicFrance

Ghana, Indonesia, USA arrived in Brazil

The delegates are starting to arrive in Brazil for Miss Universe 2011. After what a great show Miss USA was this year, many people are anxiously anticipating the 60th anniversary of Miss Universe this year and all the surprises in store. This year's show will be hosted by Andy Cohen who also co-hosted Miss USA earlier this year along with Natalie Morales who hosted last year's Miss Universe pageant. Also for the first time, one of the semifinalists will be decided by a public vote so who will that lucky lady be?
Here come the first round prethoughts to give you an idea of who I've got my eye on for this year's Miss Universe crown!

Tall Like the Great Wall: CHINA!

Roseline Zi Lin Luo competes in swimsuit during the 2011 Miss China Universe pageantMiss China 2002, Zhuo Ling with Daisy Fuentes during the 2002 Miss Universe pageant "It's time for... CHINA!" Those were the words declared by Daisy Fuentes when announcing that for the first time in history, China had placed in the top ten of Miss Universe 2002 with its very first participant, Zhuo Ling. She went on to become a very memorable character. Zhuo had tremendous height and carriage and she complemented her regal presence with such a sweet personality. Always remaining cheery no matter what the outcome, Zhuo was happily waving to the audience even when she was declared 2nd runner up behind Panama's Justine Pasek, who would go on to become Miss Universe 2002 after the original winner, Russia's Oxana Fedorova was dethroned for being unable to fulfill her duties as Miss Universe. The 2002 Miss Universe pageant was held in Puerto Rico that year and during the chat with the top 5 that year, Zhuo said that the biggest misconception people had about the Chinese was that they were short, traditional and quiet and then she said those memorable words, "Right now, LOOK ME!!!" Look at her indeed! Zhuo was tall, unique and outspoken and challenged any stereotypes. Later on, she was asked the final question, "What makes you blush?" Zhuo let out a giggle and said "Right now!" A response which delighted the audience. She then went on to call "all of the Puerto Rico, FRIENDS!" and she was proud to be there and the first Miss China to compete at Miss Universe. During a chat with some other delegates that year, Zhuo said that she would teach the next Miss China what to do during the Miss Universe pageant after her experience. Unfortunately, since that first wonderful participation of China, this most populated country in the world hasn't placed since. In fact, the delegates that China was sending to Miss Universe seemed to become progressively worse. After last year's disappointing delegate, the need was recognized for action to be taken in China. Enter the new national director for China, Yue-Sai Kan, who was also a judge at that famous Miss Universe 2002 pageant. She was also a judge for Miss Universe 1987. The very famous and powerful Yue-Sai Kan is often deemed the Oprah Winfrey of China. Yue-Sai Kan and Oprah both competed in pageants prior to their respective rises to fame. With Kan's involvement, naturally I was expecting China to dramatically shift gears and with a great line-up of delegates for Miss China Universe 2011, the chosen one was Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo who immediately, upon her crowning, became the frontrunner for Miss Universe 2011. Gorgeous Roseline is a truly stunning, tall and fabulous woman who is truly Miss Universe calibre with great catwalk skills. Yue-Sai Kan even arranged for Roseline and her first runner up at Miss China to travel to New York for lessons in English and Western social etiquette and from what I've seen Roseline has progressed nicely. And just look at that amazing figure and those enviable long legs! China currently tops my predictions list this year and that is very unlikely to change. It's also interesting to note that this year's shoe sponsor is a company called Chinese Laundry. Also, another woman by the name of Zi Lin won the title of Miss World 2007 when that pageant was held in China. Zi Lin Zhang captured the 2007 Miss World crown and now many including myself expect this new Zi Lin, Zi Lin Luo to take the 2011 Miss Universe crown. There's also an Olympic connection here. China hosted the 2008 Olympics and Brazil who is hosting this year's Miss Universe pageant is also pegged to host the 2016 Olympics, 8 years after China did. 8 is considered a lucky number among the Chinese because their words for 8 sounds similar to the word for "prosper" or "wealth". Also, I think people just want to see the most populated country of China win and this stunner is just right to put China on the beauty pageant map.

The United Bahamas of Ghana??

Anastagia Pierre of Bahamas, Alyssa Campanella of USA, Yayra Erica Nego of Ghana The United States of America will be well represented this year... by more than one country it appears!! Allow me to explain what I mean. Of course, the reigning Miss USA is the phenomenal Alyssa Campanella who was heavily favored to win the Miss USA crown and is also a favorite at Miss Universe. However, two women who competed at Miss USA 2009 will amazingly also be competing for Miss Universe 2011 thanks to the magic of dual citizenship. The Bahamas are being represented by Anastagia Pierre who won the Miss Bahamas Universe title for 2011. Anastagia was also Miss Florida USA 2009 and Miss Florida Teen USA 2004. Anastagia was even 2nd runner up to the title of Miss Intercontinental 2010 representing the Bahamas. Now of course, there are other women who competed at Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe, all of whom did so by winning Miss USA. Those 8 women were Ali Landry (1996/Teen 1990), Kimberly Pressler (1999/Teen 1994), Lynnette Cole (2000/Teen 1995), Susie Castillo (2003/Teen 1998), Chelsea Cooley (2005/Teen 2000), Tara Conner (2006/Teen 2002), Rachel Smith (2007/Teen 2002) and Alyssa Campanella (2011/Teen 2007). Now Anastagia Pierre holds the distinction of being the first woman to compete at Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe without winning Miss USA! Anastagia did not place in semifinals at either Miss Teen USA or Miss USA. The other woman who competed at Miss USA 2009 is Yayra Erica Nego who is representing Ghana at Miss Universe 2011 and also represented Minnesota at Miss USA 2009. Erica did place in the top 15 at Miss USA 2009. So Miss Ghana and Miss Bahamas will reunite but what's even more interesting is that Alyssa Campanella competed for the title of Miss New Jersey USA 2009 and placed 1st runner up at that pageant so Alyssa was so close to also competing at Miss USA 2009 but it all worked out for Alyssa in the end winning Miss California USA 2011 and then Miss USA 2011. Rumor has it Kosovo's representative Aferdita Dreshaj who is also considered one of the frontrunners also has ties to New York. But of course, this is nothing new. I've pointed out state-hoppers throughout the years of Miss USA but there are multiple examples of "country-hoppers" at Miss Universe. Miss Universe 1988, Porntip Nakhirunkanok represented Thailand when she won and although she was born there, she moved to Los Angeles, California as a child and was raised in the United States. This was also the case for Miss Thailand 1984, Savinee Prakaranang who placed in the top 10 of Miss Universe 1984. Miss Yugoslavia 1991, Natasha Pavlovic who was a top 10 semifinalist at Miss Universe 1991 and she even competed the year before for the Miss California USA title. So those are a few examples of women who used their dual citizenship to their advantage in the world of pageantry.

From Win to Win to Clap to Clap?

Venezuela-Vanessa GoncalvesMexico-Karin Ontiveros The pageantry powerhouse of Venezuela is being represented this year by Vanessa Goncalves. At the time, there weren't a lot of people who were expecting her to win but Osmel Sousa, the director of Miss Venezuela has worked his magic with her and from what I see, she's a contender and a strong one at that. However, some speculate that the 'glamour continues to punish and awe with Venezuela.' (Those words were declared by Billy Bush, host of Miss Universe 2005.) What I mean by this is that some people think that because Venezuela became the first country to win Miss Universe two years in a row in 2008 and 2009, Venezuela may intentionally be 'punished' for these back-to-back wins by missing the semifinals two years in a row. Last year in 2010, Marelisa Gibson did not advance to the semifinals and this year, some believe that Vanessa Goncalves may meet the same fate. In fact, it has been a very long time since Venezuela missed the semifinals two years in a row. The last time this happened was way back when Venezuela went unplaced 3 years in a row at Miss Universe from 1973 to 1975. Venezuela has never been absent from the semifinals for two years in a row since then. A clapper is a term commonly used in pageantry for someone who does not advance to the semifinals and is left clapping for those who do. So will we go from winner to winner to clapper to clapper? Or will Venezuela not be denied and make a huge comeback?? Part of my reason for leaving Texas out of my semifinals predictions list at Miss USA earlier this year was partly because I was thinking that since Texas didn't place in 2010 with Kelsey Moore that her 1st runner Up, Ana Rodriguez might meet the same fate and go unplaced after she won Miss Texas USA 2011. But lo and behold, Texas went Venezuelan in 2011 with Venezuelan designer Gionni Straccia gowns and came back strong with Ana placing as 3rd runner up at Miss USA 2011 and Danielle Doty winning Miss Teen USA 2011 for Texas. Texas missed the semifinals at Miss USA 1999 and 2000. Since Texas came back strong this year, I expect the same for Venezuela and she will be in my predictions list because of what I've seen of Vanessa recently, she is quite strong. And of course, the reigning Miss Universe, Ximena Navarrete is from Mexico so the pressure is on Mexico's representative this year, Karin Ontiveros so can she pull off a placement in the semifinals or will she be left clapping as Monica Zuniga was in 1992 the year after Lupita Jones won Miss Universe 1991?

One Step At A Time

Australia=Scherri-Lee Biggs Australia's movin' on up! Right now, Australia is in my 1st runner up position and the reason for that is mainly due to the pattern or trendseeker in me. For you see, Australia was 3rd runner up in 2009 and 2nd runner up in 2010 so naturally shouldn't they move one spot up this year in 2011? Possibly progressing to yet another win for Australia in 2012?? The Aussies won Miss Universe 2004 thanks to one Jennifer Hawkins who ever since then has been blessed with success upon success and has become an admirable celebrity in her country. Who would have thought after barely missing the semifinals in 1994 right through to 2003, then they would come back with a win in 2004! This renewed interest in pageantry in Australia may soon be rewarded yet again. This year, Australia's representative is Scherri-Lee Biggs who is making strong showings in many lists. So will the trend become a reality?

So those are my first round prethoughts for now. After I have observed all the delegates and formulated opinions during their activities in Brazil, I will post my list of what I think of each them and then of course a few days after preliminaries, I will post my final predictions for Miss Universe 2011 and then we'll see it all on September 12 on NBC in Sao Paulo, Brazil when the truth unfolds before our eyes. It's going to be exciting!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP