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 Claire Parker from New South Wales, 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 Claire, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
Hey, my name is Claire Elizabeth Parker, I am 27 years old (ALMOST to be 28!!) and I’m representing New South Wales. I work in the fitness industry as a personal trainer but also a model and an actress for the better part of the last 10 years!
I am also an avid lover of cats, pizza and afternoon naps!
What would you say was your motivation for entering Miss Universe Australia?
To be honest, entering miss universe Australia was a dream that began 15 years ago when Jennifer Hawkins brought the miss universe crown home for Australia. I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to do 800 things all at once – when I was a kid I used to say I wanted 7 different jobs so I could have one for every day of the week (in retrospect this would not have been a great idea tax wise). The thing that really attracted me to miss universe Australia is that the role almagamates so many of my passions into one – my love of fashion and design, performance on stage, public speaking, diplomacy and leadership, a focus on health and fitness, and most importantly a platform upon which to advocate for the causes close to my heart and be able to inspire and help people on a larger scale.
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?
Bali was incredible! I can’t even begin to comprehend how lucky and spoiled we have been through this entire process. I’ve competed in many beauty pageants before and nothing has ever come close to the program the Miss Universe Australia Organisation runs these days. If all the sponsors gifts alone weren’t enough – that entire trip to Bali, what a once in a lifetime opportunity that was, we are truly so blessed!
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?
One of the things I really valued on the Bali trip was that it gave all of us – the competitors, the sponsors, the organisers, the judges etc the opportunity to all relax and be ourselves and truly get to know each other behind that professional mask a lot of us put on – particularly when on stage in a pageant!
It enabled all of us to develop some really strong and genuine relationships and create incredible memories that we will always hold. I would be remiss not to also mention our visit with the kids from Bali Life Foundation – we spent a morning cooking, gardening and playing with them and it was honestly my favourite memory of the whole trip and such a privilege to have been a part of.
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?
Hahaha aahhh I have to say I’m always a very last minute person and probably not QUITE as organised as I could be this close to competition – HOWEVER I work best under pressure and I know I’ll pull it together in time – so can I say semi excited and semi stressed? For the most part my preparation has revolved around physical training in the gym, rehearsing my catwalk, researching and rehearsing for on stage questions and of COURSE creating awesome content for social media for the sponsors!
With so many of you all bringing an individual flair to the competition, what do you think sets you apart from the other contestants?
I think as one of the oldest contestants in the competition and what some would describe as a ‘pageant veteran’, I bring a lot of experience and perspective to the table, in the sense that I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff, my approach to things is quite autonomous and I try to just make the best of every situation, stay cool under pressure and take everything in my stride. That being said, that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly learning new things and being challenged in new ways all the time during the competition!
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?
In this day and age, as society changes and progresses and the idea of beauty pageants objectifying women is being abolished. Having opportunities such as the Minespec Parts grant as part of the competition is really integral to reflecting the way beauty pageants, and society, on the whole, is changing and moving forward in support of empowering women and facilitating their dreams. I first competed in Miss Universe Australia almost nine years ago, and indeed several other beauty pageants since – and no opportunity like this was previously on offer.
Its inclusion nowadays in the new Miss Universe Australia competition has had a massive draw factor for me to come back all these years later and compete again, particularly at 27 years old, ready to retire from pageants after this and forge a new path ahead in my career.
And if you were lucky enough to receive the grant, what would you spend it on and why?
I can’t go into too much detail just yet because my business idea I proposed for the minespec parts grant is actually an idea I’m already working on and building currently but the general idea of what I’d like to do is empower women all over the world to feel like queens essentially through health and fitness. This will be rolled out through a number of different avenues but one in particular id like to focus on is developing and implementing empowerment programs in schools for at-risk teen girls to help them find confidence and happiness in themselves, encourage them to make good life choices and educate them on healthy methods to deal with the problems they are facing – all through health and fitness. Working in the fitness industry already and having had my own struggles with mental health issues – I’ve seen what an incredible impact physical activity has had with helping deal with these struggles – both physically and mentally, and this kind of assistance and positive effect is something I’d like to impart to help others lead happier, healthier lives. So watch this space it’s going to be epic 😉
What is something people might find interesting about yourself?
I actually come from a very musical background! I’ve played the piano since I was 5, I taught myself to play the guitar when I was 14, I had several years of vocal training and even tried my hand at the harp for a little while! I used to want to be a rockstar and actually played/sang in a couple of pop-punk bands in my teens!
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you or someone you know recently?
WELL I won’t elaborate toooooo much on all the gory details but on our recent trip to Bali a number of us got pretty sick with Bali belly – let’s just say we all reached a whole new level of openness and bonding – especially when several of us were sharing one bathroom… you know the scene in Bridesmaids when the ladies all get food poisoning in the bridal store? Think along those lines
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?
DOING THE DISHES! – as a kid, it was always a treat and a fun thing to help mum and dad wash and dry the dishes. Now I look back and wonder why I ever found it quite so enjoyable haha
What’s been one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn so far through this journey?
For me, it’s been to show vulnerability, to admit that I’m not perfect and embrace and celebrate my flaws and shortcomings rather than put on a show of a perfect exterior. The pressures of social media mixed with My experience in beauty pageants in the last 10 years has conditioned me to be very cautious and conservative with my words, perfectly presented at all times, absolutely polished top to bottom and never give away any weaknesses or flaws or essentially give anyone a reason to doubt your capability for the job. So it was quite an adjustment to rewire my brain for Miss Universe Australia 2019 and understand that they WANT you to be raw, show your true colours, drop the mask, RELAX, just be true to yourself, express how you really think and feel and JUST HAVE FUN! It’s taken a little bit of retraining for me to grasp but I think it’s been one of the most beneficial lessons I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
Claire 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.