We’re excited it’s that time of the year again when we get to introduce you to the contestants of Miss Universe Australia. We’re kicking off our eighth year of finalist interviews with Bella Kasimba from Western Australia, one of the twenty-eight talented, and inspiring contestants from all walks of life who are vying for the title of Miss Universe Australia 2019.
So Bella, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
Hello!! I’m Bella Kasimba, I was born in Melbourne, grew up in Sydney, then at the age of 18 I gained a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, so that’s where I spent the last 4 and a bit years – holed up in a practice room with my saxophone.
I graduated in July with a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honors, and had a generous scholarship offer to commence the Masters of Performance course (also at the Royal College of Music), but as the very short-lived summer came to an end and the chill of winter started settling in, I decided it was time for a change of scenery.
So in November of last year I came to Perth for a “visit” with my boyfriend, the beaches and weather quickly won our hearts, and we now live in a “characterful” (run down) little flat right on the beach! What can you do with a Bachelor of Music you may be thinking? Well, I am also figuring that out haha. I’m a saxophonist so am lucky in that my instrument is pretty versatile, but my goal is to be a collaborative artist, working with people across disciplines and cultures to venture down roads less explored to create art that is accessible and unifying. Shortly after commencing my Miss Universe Australia journey I got signed by Chadwick Models, so that’s another path I’m excited to explore further, and I find that modelling also provides opportunities for creative expression. Outside of music, I’m discovering that I have a passion for politics actually! I spend a lot of my free time reading, listening, thinking and writing my thoughts about different aspects of this.
Something I’m particularly interested in is how polarising our current political landscape is. I feel that a lot of political issues are presented in a binary way, they are either good or bad and depending on which side of the fence you sit- you are either good or bad. Whereas, most of the issues facing contemporary societies require a more nuanced approach and a dialogue that allows space for these complexities to be debated. If you can’t tell, it’s safe to say I’m a big (over)thinker, so spending time in nature is something that really helps me to stay grounded and connected with myself beyond the ideas and thoughts that I identify with. I’m also a big fan of yoga and meditation, which I started getting pretty into during my first year in London when I was battling homesickness and my first experiences of intense anxiety. Beyond that, I’m just excited about this crazy journey to continue, to keep being surrounded by incredible people and keep learning and growing.
What would you say was your motivation for entering Miss Universe Australia?
Upon my return to Australia I’ve been struck by the lack of diversity seen and represented in Australian media and in influential/positions of power in general. Since Australia is such an amazingly diverse and multicultural country, this is something we should be celebrating with immense pride and utilising across all levels of our society! So I suppose this was the motivation behind my entering- as an Australian Ugandan woman, I believe that by participating in the Miss Universe Australia programme, I can contribute to showing that “Australian” looks like many different things and that there are many versions of the Australian story.
The program is certainly full of amazing experiences in the lead-up to finals, You’ve just returned from the National Finalist Trip to Bali staying at the sensational Alila Hotels. How was this experience?
Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe it !!! First off- this was my first trip to Bali so I feel pretty blessed to not only have been able to experience it with the MUA family but to be staying at the Alila Hotels was just mind blowing. The hotels were like something out of a dream and to learn about all the work they do with the surrounding local communities was pretty special as well.
The Bali Trip is a combination of finals boot camp, personal development and team bonding exercise with a tropical escape thrown in for good measure, what would you say are some of the best things you’ll take away from the trip?
The trip was definitely a challenge for me, especially the first few days, but in the best possible way. I think it would be near impossible to walk into a situation like Bali, where you are surrounded by 28 intelligent, motivated and beautiful young women not to have moments of self-doubt. But as the week progressed I drew a lot of strength from how supportive the MUA team are, how genuine their desire for you to not only be your most authentic self, but to help you figure out what that is, and how strong a bond all of us formed. At the end of the week I felt like my mind had been blown open by all the inspiring conversations and my heart was bursting with the new friendships and connections made, that will last long beyond the end of the programme.
So now you’re home and, winter has set in and the finals are only just around the corner, how are you feeling in the leadup to Melbourne and what sort of preparation are you doing before finals week?
Yes finals are just around the corner, time has absolutely flown ! I am so excited and equally so nervous ! To get myself physically feeling my best I have been doing alot of hot yoga, as I find this not only helps me keep my body healthy and strong but also helps my mind stay calm and centred (and I swear by it to get clear glowing skin!!). I’ve also been attending megaformer classes at LA Fit which are super effective, with the odd workout by the beach with my Peach Builder resistance bands thrown in for good measure. In terms of the mental side of things, I’ve been conscious to keep up a routine of meditation and visualisation. I’ve been using these tools for quite a few years to help me manage performance nerves, anxiety and to help me to embrace the ups and downs of life. Also I’ve been using this platform as a national finalist to get in contact with some pretty inspiring women to pick their brains about their careers, their ideas, any advice they have, and what issues they feel are most relevant to women in Australia right now. So this has been great for that extra bit of motivation and has given me a huge amount of ideas for projects to get started once Miss Universe Australia sadly wraps up.
With so many of you all bringing an individual flair to the competition, what do you think sets you apart from the other contestants?
Hmm that’s a difficult question! I think that perhaps something that sets me apart is the combination of my heritage and life experience, especially my 4 years of study in London, which has given me a keener awareness of the many amazing aspects of Australia, but has also prompted me to think more critically about some of the contemporary issues facing Australia as we figure out our place in the global community. Plus my fro is hard to miss…
Your next question comes from Simon Ross of Minespec Parts How much of a deciding factor for entering this year, was the Minespec Parts Grant of $20,000 to put towards your education or business startup?
That has absolutely been a huge motivator and my mind is currently bubbling with a few different ideas for if I were fortunate enough to receive this grant!
And if you were lucky enough to receive the grant, what would you spend it on and why?
Given my aspiration to someday enter politics, I am definitely interested in returning to university to study either a Juris Doctor or a Masters in the area of Political Science. Alternatively, I am hoping to set up a mentoring organisation for young women, particularly those identifying with a minority group. Growing up and playing a musical instrument, I was lucky enough to spend hours of one-on-one time each week with inspiring adults, who aside from teaching me music, would engage with me in all kinds of conversations. These interactions were hugely formative for me in encouraging me to form my own opinions, ideas and learning truly how much agency you have over your own life. Having that extra support network to help me realise my own power was a big part of the foundation that got me to push for what I wanted and to believe that I could do it ( and kickass parents that would never let me give up on my dreams!). I think there lies a huge amount of power in the support of more established women in our communities guiding and advising our younger women, and this is something I definitely hope to harness and put to use through a mentoring programme.
What is something people might find interesting about yourself?
Where my dad is from in Uganda , each child is given their own last name. So we are the only Kasimba’s in the world, which I find pretty cool!!
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you or someone you know recently?
This wasn’t really that funny from my perspective but here goes anyway…Shortly after I moved to Perth and had started making some new friends, I was out to lunch with two of them, one of whom is a woman who has a twin brother. We were chatting and I realised I had never seen a photo of her brother, so I asked her, “are you and your brother identical twins?”, so I could try and imagine what he looked like. They both immediately burst into laughter and were like “haha good one Bella”, not sure of the reason behind the laughter I replied “so.. Are you or not?” at which point there was less laughter and more concern. I was very confused, so they proceeded to tell me that infact you could not be identical twins if you weren’t the same sex. To this day I’m still not entirely convinced but I have consulted many people since this incident and apparently this information is general knowledge. It seems I missed that day of Biology class !
As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be?
Taking money out of the ATM…I didn’t realise that this money was attached to a bank account , I thought it was just for everyone to share and take when they needed! Seems I was a mini socialist as a child..
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from such a wide variety of things, there isn’t really much rhyme or reason to it. I’m immensely inspired by the women that came before me and worked so hard to lay a path that would lead to us enjoying the freedoms that we do, and to keep doing the same for the next generation of women. I’m inspired by people and discovering the individual quirks and magic that each of us hold. I’m inspired by things that express those subtle and intangible feelings, such as music and writing. I’m inspired by a strong desire to use the vast privileges that I benefit from in a way that will sustainably benefit those who don’t currently have the same. And lastly I would say I am big time inspired by those bits of untouched nature where everything is working and flowing so perfectly and it makes you realise that everything has its unique place and purpose, and that applies to us humans too!!
Bella is also helping raise money for Toybox International as part of her Miss Universe Journey; Please consider donating by clicking here.
Minespec Parts are proud to be the presenting sponsor for Miss Universe Australia, Working to empower and support women not just through the Miss Universe Australia pageant and their $20k education and business grant, but through many platforms with various activities across Australia all furthering and supporting women in the workplace.