Today we are catching up with Johanna Pillay of Victoria, one of the 24 talented and inspiring women from all walks of life who are hoping to be crowned Miss Universe Australia 2023 at The Sofitel Melbourne on Collins this Friday.
So, Johara why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 27, and I currently work in Medical Technology, where I offer support during cardiac procedures by creating 3D maps of the heart. I’ve got a dog named Gus who we adopted in February and if I am not out exploring the bustling Melbourne food scene, I’m teaching myself to sew and giving new life to preloved clothing.
We all have motivations, mine usually around good coffee, but what was your key motivation for entering Miss Universe Australia?
Well, we definitely have that in common! I had actually taken part in MUA a few years ago in Queensland, and it was such a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, work with amazing sponsors and, most of all, connect with driven, ambitious and like-minded women.
My key motivation, however, was the fact that Miss Universe Australia offers such a unique platform based on highlighting OUR individual skills, personality, and talents and passions. The program itself has shown that it is dedicated to our individual growth and development to become really strong role models on a global platform. That is why I joined, and now I’m excited to show that growth on the world stage.
As part of the program, you recently went on the National Finalist Trip to Vietnam at Furama Resort Da Nang, what was the experience like?
Oh my goodness, it was amazing! And given the field of work I’m in, totally out of my ordinary! I did my very first swim photoshoot, learned about the power of voice and communication with a NIDA course, and volunteered for a local charity. All while enjoying the luxury resort and local cuisine with an astonishing group of women from Australia and Singapore, plus the Miss Universe Australia Team. And that’s only scratching the surface!
What would you say was the highlight of your trip?
100% was the volunteering opportunity with VAVA (Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange). It was so incredibly rewarding to not only learn about the valuable work that they are doing, but also to get among it and have a big play and dance with the families. It was amazing to see that despite the language and communication barrier, we all bonded through the power of music and dance and fun. I have volunteered in similar programs back in Australia and now have felt the spark to get back into it!
With everyone bringing their own unique and individual flair to the program, what is something that sets you apart from the other finalists?
This is a difficult question because all the National finalists have something so special to offer. I think I come from a very diverse background and therefore have a unique set of talents and passions. Whether that is being a voice in the continuing conversation of diversity in Australia, advocating for the Women in Stem initiative or having volunteered in the Youth Disability space, it all comes down to my why. That is the opportunity to use my experience and passion to make a positive difference wherever I can.
If you could ask our current Miss Universe Australia, Monique Riley, one question, what would it be and why?
How many packets of Tim Tams do you think will need to be brought to the national competition?
Why? Because they are amazing, and they deserve to be shared.
Tell us something you’re passionate about and why?
I am passionate about science and how our world works. And more-so, how we can utilise science to make our world a better place. In high school, I was one of two girls in my physics and advanced maths classes.
And it is so exciting to me to see that those ratios are continually changing. We are in the position where the focus is shifting from science participation to leadership, and I am so excited to be part of this conversation. It is such an exciting and diverse field and there is space for everyone to be part of it, regardless of who they are.
To finish up the interview we have a few quick questions
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Back in Brisbane or the Coast with my family. But I’m not quite ready to leave Melbourne just yet.
What’s your ideal way to spend a day off?
Well, I’d wake up a little late and take my dog Gus on a walk in the sunshine. Find a new bakery, a coffee, and a good grass patch in the shade. Maybe practice some sewing at home? I’m not sure, but the thing I am sure of is that I’m not making any plans.
What makes you laugh out loud?
Mr Bean! I’ve loved the series as a kid, and I love it just as much as an adult!