Crowning achievement

BORN and raised in Bayan Lepas, Penang, Teoh Jun Jane, also known as Jane Teoh, recently surpassed 16 other contestants to be crowned as Miss Universe Malaysia 2018.

A naturally shy person, the 20-year-old accounting and finance student is trying to be more bold and outspoken.

“I’m trying to talk a little bit more, I’m the kind of person who needs time to warm up, once I’m comfortable I’ll be fine,” she says.

Teoh is particularly driven by pressing matters in today’s society, where many underprivileged communities – especially the disabled – remain invisible to the public.

She continues to speak and fight for them while she works with NGOs to give voice to the voiceless, and hopes that more people would be more receptive towards the social issue.

What were your first emotions after being crowned the winner?

Confusion. It feels really unreal, as it takes time for it to sink in but it’s getting real now. I think it’s [because] I didn’t think I would win, as the competition was really tough and the other girls were just as good. When they announced me as the winner, I had mixed feelings.

How did you get involved in the pageant?

I heard about it from Elaine Daly, so I figured I’d [make] a second attempt at a beauty pageant contest.

My first beauty pageant was in 2016. Somehow I won the local search and they sent me to China.

Because it was my first time in an international competition, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about competing in a beauty pageant, I didn’t know how to present myself. When I was there, everyone was so pretty, they made me look like a potato.

This really was a second chance for me to prove myself.

What is most exciting about being Miss Universe Malaysia 2018?

Definitely meeting people from different backgrounds, industries and circles. There is also the part where you work with different people and when they discover the potential in you, that’s always very exciting. Of course, it is a platform that will get me more modelling opportunities.

What are the sacrifices you’ve made to come this far?

My time. I went to the two-week pageant boot camp when I was on semester break back in October.

By the time I went back it was already the new semester; there wasn’t enough time for me to rest.

However, I wouldn’t say that it’s a sacrifice. I’ve gained so much throughout the journey.

Coming down to the final two, why do you think you were picked as the winner?

After the crowning, I thought of this on my own and asked myself why. As I reflect, I think it’s because I am genuine, people can feel the sincerity when I talk, I guess that is why I won.

Throughout the pageant, I think the judges took notice of my improvements since the very beginning.

What is the relevance of a beauty pageant in the society?

It is more of being a role model, where people – especially young girls – look up to you. I’ve got to get myself together to be the best version for many young girls out there, since they think of me as a positive example and strive to be like me.

As the face of Malaysia right now, I have to be careful in what I do and say. It’s more about using the platform I’ve been given to voice out for things I feel is right, or to draw attention to them.

What is your definition of beauty?

It is definitely something beyond being skin deep. It’s the charisma, about being real, relatable and down to earth. You shouldn’t portray yourself as a diva, and don’t be a stuck-up person.

If you have a beautiful face, but you’re not genuine and you’re just like a ‘touch-and-go’ kind of person, those qualities don’t make people want to get to know you.

Is there any philanthropic work that you’re passionate about?

I’m passionate about working with underprivileged people.

I once worked on a project with this non-governmental organisation that is run by students of University Utara Malaysia, called Enactus.

What we did was we sold these handcrafted goods that were made by disabled people, but I realised the public wasn’t paying attention to what we were selling.

It’s either that they are ignorant, or they don’t realise that no contribution is too small.

What was the best advice someone has given to you?

Before the gala night, I was worried about the outcome ... My family members were telling me to just go for it and hope for the best, but to also be prepared for the worst, [and to give it my all] since there is nothing to lose.