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 Diana Hills 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 Diana, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
I am 21-years-old and from the Central Coast of New South Wales. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism with the hope of one day becoming a tv or radio presenter. I began modelling at the age of 14, and at 16 moved to London to pursue my career, I returned to Australia a few months later to complete my high school studies and begin my tertiary education.
I have a passion for body positivity and acceptance, and through further development of my personal blog “Every Body,” I hope to normalize discussion about mental health and personal struggles.
I consider myself a very positive person. I love to listen to other people’s experiences and opinions, as communication is something I value very highly in all aspects of my life.
I try not to take life too seriously or overthink how I may be perceived by others. It’s rare to catch me without a big smile on my face, and I believe in just being yourself.
What would you say was your motivation for entering Miss Universe Australia?
There is no doubt that one of the greatest opportunities the Miss Universe Australia program offers is a national/international platform to share your voice. While this platform is certainly appealing to my aspirations, my motivation for applying is a little more personal.
I chose to enter Miss Universe Australia 2019 after struggling a lot with my mental health last year.
Since the age of 15, I have struggled with my identity and understanding where it is that I fit in the world – I wouldn’t be so naive as to assume this feeling is uncommon, but 11 months ago, this feeling of uncertainty consumed me.
After modelling overseas and returning to complete my secondary education in 2015 my dreams of becoming a full-time model circled the drain. My modelling agency let me go and I struggled to find representation elsewhere. I reluctantly decided to focus solely on my university studies and put that dream on hold. The idea of not being wanted was something I became used to after countless castings. I understood that you can’t be what every client or booker is looking for, but when it came down to not being able to find an agency to represent me, despite many years of experience, I realized that I had no idea who I was without modelling. This led me to put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to figure out who I am.
In July last year, I began to have panic attacks and struggle with anxiety in environments that wouldn’t normally have any effect on me. I sought professional help and learnt to accept my emotions. This experience opened me up to pursue challenge and development, thus leading me to apply for Miss Universe Australia.
I believe that when you put yourself into an environment that may be uncomfortable or out of the ordinary, you react naturally and are able to learn more about yourself.
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?
The Miss Universe Australia National Finalist Trip exceeded all my expectations. I had gone in thinking I would meet a few girls that I really clicked with, but that few turned into 28. Since the NSW final in March and only brief interaction with the Pink Tank Events team I felt like I was in such safe hands, after spending time with everyone in Bali I feel like I am a part of something so much bigger than I anticipated, we feel like family.
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?
First and foremost, the friendships. Our time in Manggis is where I think we really bonded as a group. We would spend days by the pool and congregate on one balcony until late at night, just chatting and getting to know each other.
My absolute favourite moment from our time in Bali was when we were at Alila Seminyak. We had just wrapped up the last day of shooting at Alila Manggis and we were all so excited to see our final photo shoots. As we sat on the steps of the penthouse suite, and each image was revealed on the tv, I felt surrounded by so much love and happiness. As each photo came up all of us would cheer and clap and I couldn’t help but take a moment to think to myself, everyone’s enthusiasm was so genuine. I said to Johanna who was sitting next to me, “we all love each other so much”. It was a moment that may not come across as special in words, but it was so heartwarming, and I will definitely cherish it.
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?
I am in a love, hate situation with National Finals Week. I can’t wait to catch up with all the girls again, but I am also so sad that it is all coming to an end.
I am so thankful to have been a part of this program and feel like I have gained so much in just a few months. I am a firm believer in being aware of how our thoughts interact with the universe and so in the lead up to Melbourne I am focusing on thinking positively.
Tom Holland once said in an interview that one of the best pieces of advice he had ever received was to, “turn nerves into excitement”. This is something that I always keep in my mind, and throughout this experience, it has enabled me to relax and just make the most of every moment.
With the National Final creeping up so quickly, I am reflecting on how proud I am to be me.
With so many of you all bringing an individual flair to the competition, what do you think sets you apart from the other contestants?
Questions like this make me uncomfortable if I am being totally honest. I have spent most of my young adult years trying to break the habit of comparing myself to others, and I think this is a common struggle amongst adolescents.
I cannot speak on behalf of the other girls, although I feel like my approach towards the Miss Universe Australia program may be unique. It may be my non-competitive nature but having entered Miss Universe Australia to seek personal development, I believe that there is so much more to gain from the program than just winning.
My perspective has allowed me to relax in what could otherwise be quite a stressful environment, be myself, and be present in new connections and friendships.
Your next question comes from Simon Ross of Minespec Parts
If you were lucky enough to receive the Minespec Parts Grant of $20,000 to put towards your education or business startup, what would you spend it on and why?
For me, the thought of receiving a $20,000 grant from Minespec Parts triggered me to think that I wouldn’t want to waste such a great opportunity. While I would love to make a dent in my HECS debt, and look at enhancing my skills as a presenter and journalist through a number of short courses; I have come to terms with the debt that comes along with my education, and had put thought into repayment before learning of the opportunity to receive the grant.
It is for this reason that I would use the grant to pursue something that I may have otherwise put in the “too hard” or “when I can afford it” basket.
I am not business minded in any way, so my idea may need some fine-tuning. Given the opportunity, I would love to put the $20,000 grant towards creating an online community for young women that could be developed into a school mentorship program.
In today’s society, there is so much pressure on young people to know what they want to do with their life. I would like to create a space where they can seek guidance and support. With the help of qualified psychologists, and through sharing my experiences with body image, self-love, bullying, peer pressure, safe partying and personal struggles, I hope to encourage communication and openness.
Although the community could be beneficial to both young men and women, the experiences I would like to share and engage my audience with would be reflective of my journey to becoming a woman.
Growing up, I learnt that communication is the key to every relationship, including the relationship that you have with yourself.
My idea was inspired by a combination of Steph Claire-Smith and Laura Henshaw’s “Keep It Cleaner Girls” and the Powerful Impressions workshop; although, with a much stronger focus on mental health. “
I am proud of the woman I have become, and I would love to help other young women to feel the same way.
What is something people might find interesting about yourself?
My perspective on body image may be something others find interesting if not, it is definitely something I would like to spark more interest in.
I have a great passion for body positivity and acceptance, and this has come from others misunderstanding my body type. As someone who is and always has been naturally thin, I grew up having my health and body criticised. Often the criticism was never intended to be malicious, that is why I want to show people that there are two sides to body shaming, and neither is acceptable.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you or someone you know recently?
I still laugh every time I tell this story; I hope it isn’t one of those “had to be there” moments.
I had just pulled into my local supermarket to pick up a couple of things. Once I was finished, I walked out of the shops, found my car and unlocked it. I went to the drivers’ door, opened it – as you do, and there was another woman sitting in the seat! “It’s not your car love!”. I was mortified! I had walked up and opened someone else’s car!
I could have easily pretended it didn’t happen; I’ve walked up to the wrong car before but quickly realised it wasn’t mine when the door doesn’t open. But nope, that door opened, and there was another woman staring right up at me. I was so embarrassed!
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?
As a child, I was always surrounded by a big group of friends. We used to talk about what our lives would be like when we were all grown up and had careers and children. I looked forward to becoming an adult and sharing my life with familiar people.
Now that I am an adult, very few of the people I was surrounded by are still a part of my life. I used to think the more people I surrounded myself with the happier I would be, I now understand and appreciate, “quality over quantity”.
What would you like to be remembered for?
As I previously mentioned, I value communication very highly and would like to be remembered as someone who could not only make anyone feel comfortable to share their stories and worries but also feel heard.
Diana Hills 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.
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Editor of @GC_MAG Australia, Currently living by the mantra life is too short for bad coffee