Christina Peiris, the new star in town brought fame to Sri Lanka when she was selected among the first sixteen of the semi-finalists at the 66th Miss Universe pageant, held at the AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, a conclave which consisted 92 contestants, and very competitive. The competition saw Miss South Africa crowned as Miss Universe 2017.
The event has attracted a lot of attention since this is the second time that a Sri Lankan contestant came so far as a semi-finalist. Back in 1955, Maureen Neliya Hingert a Sri Lankan model, dancer and an actor, represented Sri Lanka in the Miss Universe pageant and figured as a runner-up.
This brought her into the limelight, putting Sri Lanka on the map as far back as 1955. Hingert who was born in Colombo in 1937, is of Dutch Burgher ancestry.
Maureen Hingert attended Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, and then left for Los Angeles, California, to continue her higher studies. After she was crowned Miss Ceylon in Sri Lanka, she was selected to represent her country in the international pageant.
Sixty-two years later, the twenty- three-year-old showed signs of success from the start and bagged the ‘Miss. Universe Sri Lanka’ title just last month.
Christina, who was born and grew up in Sri Lanka, subsequently moved to Abu Dhabi with her family. She lost her mother to cancer when she was just 13 years old. After completing her degree in fashion designing at the Academy of Design, she launched her own clothing brand X.TINA, a humanitarian clothing brand, and says, ‘she hopes to donate a portion of its yearly profits to the cancer home, a cause that is close to her heart.
She lost her mother and two grandparents to the deadly disease and takes a personal interest in helping out people who are struggling with cancer. Speaking to the local media she said, she constantly visits the cancer home and gets to know people whose lives have been torn apart by the sickness, and hopes to make a bigger contribution in time to come.
After her achievements at the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant, Christina famously spoke of her interest in making a bigger contribution to society. She says, her interests included increasing access to public areas for persons and children with disabilities and to bring to the attention of the authorities to make access for disabled people mandatory.
While some reduce beauty pageants to a mere parade of women, only a few would really know the amount of work and preparation needed to successfully partake in the event.
The pageant looks into not just the appearance of the competitors, but their character, education and how they present themselves under pressure.
A huge step forward- Rozanne Diasz Leanage
Speaking of this great achievement, the former Miss Universe contestant Rozanne Diasz Leanage said, this was a great achievement for the country.
Coming into the top 16 can mean that next time we can definitely get into the top ten. It is a huge step forward. I was placed 19th and Aruni Rajapakse was also within the top 20, but this is big, your name being called in the arena and your country’s name being called is a huge achievement. I think it’s even equivalent to winning the competition, because we have beaten India and the other countries in our region.
“It’s the perspective of different people. For everything, you will find a negative as well as a positive opinion. It’s how you look at it,” she said.
Speaking further on the development of the industry and elevating its standards she said, quality must be maintained at all times.
“To elevate standards, of course, I think the professionals have to get together and preferably a government intervention, to regulate it. The involvement of the people is increasing. But, I believe, quality will always win over quantity. So, having more pageants would not mean we would bring out quality contestants. It is always quality that wins. I see so many pageants winning Miss and Mrs Sri Lanka, today. When I participated back in 2005, it was only two pageants that were held in the country. Now, every Tom, Dick and Harry who has the capacity, hold pageants. I believe, this is not in the best interest of the industry or even the country,”
She went on to explain that this is a result of social media and internet blogging. “We see this in the entire industry”, she said.
A lovely personality... - Brian Kerkoven (Fashion Designer)
Renowned fashion designer Brian Kerkoven had nothing but good thoughts for Christina Peiris.
Sharing his thoughts with the Sunday Observer he said that he immediately identified her capacity and potential and had encouraged her to take up modelling.
“The first time I saw her I asked her to become a model but at that time she was not interested. So, I’m very glad this she decided to take up this profession and she’s done well. She used to work and study at Academy of Designing (AOD) where she used to model on a very limited scale. Which actually made me a bit jealous since I wanted her to be my model,” he said.
According to Brian, she’s got a lovely personality as well as a very simple and down to earth person. “These are the qualities that matter as a person, because beauty can fade off but your personality stays. She and I share a common love for animals,” he said.
Speaking of the industry Brian says that a lot of the girls who go into national and international pageants end up making positive changes in the society.
“A lot of girls who come forward in the profession starts off with a low idea about themselves and turns out to accept who they are and move in society, and they become someone good in terms of every aspect and for the benefit of the society.”