Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The May 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Sarita Ram Menon

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Sarita Ram Menon is the owner/director of Amogh Financial Services Pty Ltd and she has received various recognitions for contributions to society due to her art-based activism. She has been featured in mainstream newspapers such as Daily Telegraph, Western Weekender, Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express, and The Hindu and they have published articles about her journey and success in the plus-size pageant world.

A trained classical dancer, and a plus-size model cum actor – Saritha has been highly praised for her runway walks, as well as for being a body-positive influencer who offers a blend of culture and fashion. She’s a woman of substance for the world to see.

She recently represented Australia in the Mrs. United Nations Pageant where she ended up being crowned as the Mrs. United Nations World 2019. She was proud to represent Australia where she competed against other “Mrs. contestants” from Asia, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, America, etc…

Apart from being Mrs. United Nations World, she has also won other titles such as Mrs. South Asia India, Mrs. Talented and Mrs. Vivacious at the Mrs. India Worldwide pageant, and she will be the only South Asian queen who will be representing Australia at the “Mrs. Globe Australia Curvé” pageant to be held in California (post Covid-19 travel bans).

She’s a body-positive influencer and a plus-size model who’s proud to be Australian and quite happy about the multiculturalism in Australia.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Saritha to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?

Even though in this day and age, married and plus-size women are slowly becoming a trend, the fashion and modeling industry is still dominated by slim-fit women and this is why many curvy moms do not get enough chances to be recognized and appreciated. Hence I got inspired by many successful famous curvy models to strive for what I wanted to achieve and make my passion into an achievement of a lifetime.

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

Pageants teach women to be active and give back to the community. All of the women who participate in pageants are women with intelligence. Competing in this pageant and holding this title makes me a beauty queen who is held to a higher standard in the public eye thus I can impact the community positively with my goodwill.

Downside to being a beauty queen?

To be fair, it can’t be easy to think on your feet while many are watching at you during various pageants so small mistakes do happen but never had any big blunders. But yes, I just want to keep improving, to keep getting better as a queen.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

To win that titles and have that crown on my head is a validation of my hard work. It’s like the judges thought I was worthy of the crown and those feelings are akin to winning anything that takes effort-exhilaration and pure joy..”I did it!”

Pageants have given me confidence, made me a better person, and helped me become recognized within my local town and countries also helped me make amazing connections around the world. Pageants are hard work but they are so worth it!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have met many famous and influential people throughout my runway shows and fund-raising events, to name a few: Mathew Hayden (Australian ex-cricketer), Barry O’Farrell (ex-premiere NSW and current Australian high commissioner to India, Julia Finn (MP), Jodi Mckay (Nsw labour leader), Julian Leeser (MP), Prue Car (MP), Sue Turner (Mrs. Universe Australia finalist) as well as many Bollywood celebrities.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

I learned to support and love the very girls I was competing against. I looked past all my fears and learned to accept criticism, carry myself and walk confidently. Actually, Your everyday life is a lot like a beauty pageant the experience is invaluable.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

I feel very confident in who I am and what I represent. I try to balance that confidence with a dose of humility. Grace and elegance, tact, and flexibility and be your best version. The best rule of thumb I have found is to be genuine.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

The support of each family member has likely been impacted me positively. being loved and them getting involved in my mental care benefits me so much. Winning previous pageants and titles was just because my family helped me to believe ‘don’t wait to lose weight or until your life is just perfect to make changes. Pursue your dreams right now!

What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

I am due to become the face of a couple of plus-size clothing brands and I also modelled for the local fashion industry in Sydney. I’m also investing in women’s education and supporting victims of domestic violence. I also want to provide guidance with genuine love to all those plus-size moms who aspire to step into the pageantry world – I want to mentor them.

I want to continue the legacy of helping the needy and also convey this empowering message to all curvy girls and moms- “Feel confident enough to strut your stuff on stage and never let your size determine your swag.”

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Godzilla Vs Kong.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Good Personality is beautiful as beauty fades after a certain time, but personality is forever.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Be a part of the army.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” have climbed Kilimanjaro during my Tanzania stay!

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Being curvy, as I have to never worry about getting padded.

Meet One Of The Queens Behind The Cover Of The April 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Cyprian Fruean-Posesione

Cyprian Fruean-Posesione is currently the reigning Ms. Ocenia World Universal 2021. Cyprian got her first taste of pageantry back in 1994 when she turned 21 years old and joined Miss Samoa. She has always wanted to showcase her talent and gain confidence in front of people. The next day she was selected to take part in a photoshoot for a magazine to promote Samoa Tourism. Her late grandfather Sala Suivai, saw she had potential with performing and entertaining at family and community functions so he encouraged me to take the opportunity to enter abroad. From there she had discovered her passion on stage within the pageant industry. She entered again in 1995 in the Miss Samoa NZ pageant in New Zealand where she won the talent and traditional wear segment and came 2nd runner up. In 2017 she joined Mrs. Worldwide representing Samoa in Singapore – she made it in the top 10 and won Mrs. Congeniality. Furthermore, in 2018 she represented Samoa in Taiwan at the Lady of Brilliancy pageant where she came top 10 for talent and the winner of the Lady of Charity title. Her National Director and Designer is none other than Tito Stowers.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Cyprian and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

Being a role model for young women and meeting new friends from around the world.

The downside to being a beauty queen?

Time: getting dressed, makeup and photoshoots.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

Standing on stage away from home, proudly representing my beautiful Island of Samoa to the world, with the greatest honour to be around gorgeous queens from all around the globe.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The Monks in Taiwan. I’ve always seen them in the movies and finally, I got to stand right next to them for a photo.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Respect, passion, and expectations. Always forever respect others and yourself. Do what you are passionate about for yourself and make a great impact on someone in need. Never enter a pageant with the mindset of you are already the winner, because when you don’t win, you will only disappoint yourself at the end.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

Be the true ‘me’. Be proud of the person I am and where I am from. Never lose focus on staying positive and show love.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

100% always.

What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

Continuously being a role model to young women and men, family members, or any community members that are in need of a helping hand. Also staying connected with loved ones and more on-stage experiences. I’d like to work alongside a few charity organizations as well such as Breast Cancer Foundation via work, The Kindest cut, Rest home visits, ISTIS- I survived therefore I speak and STOP child sexual abuse.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: You are my home.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? I consider LIFE itself beautiful. Because acceptance of how, when, what, and who created ‘LIFE’ and ‘US’ is beyond beautiful and extraordinary.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Travel to Laie, Hawaii. Polynesian Cultural Center.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear…” I’d be unstoppable in experiencing, completing, mastering every task, job by taking all opportunities in this world!”

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Too kind?

Meet One Of The Queens Behind The Cover Of The April 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Em Hardwicke

Em Hardwicke is a 47-year-old mum of a 6, nearly 7-year-old son, Flynn, a Real Estate professional, and the reigning Ms. Australia World Universal 2021.

New to pageantry, Em’s World Universal journey has been a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.  “The most valuable lesson I have learned is the value of being the real YOU!  Real, genuine, and authentic.  That is true beauty right there!!”  Em said.

When deciding to enter Ms. Australia, New Zealand & Oceania World Universal, Em wanted her journey to mean something and she wanted to make a difference.  Incredibly passionate about anti-bullying and suicide prevention, Em spends time supporting Bully Zero and advocating for a society where bullying doesn’t exist and for a society in which everyone, whether an adult or a child, feels safe, valued, and respected.  Wherever her World Universal journey takes her, Em will continue to support and promote Bully Zero, anti-bullying, and suicide prevention.

When Em is not being a mum doing her mum thing, working, or studying, you will often see Em running or riding throughout the NSW Snowy Mountains training for the Ultra-Trail Australia 100K in May 2021.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Em and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?

I am new to the pageantry with Ms. Australia World Universal being my first pageant. I wouldn’t say I was discovered… but rather World Universal and I found each other through a mutual friend and beautiful soul, Robbie Canner. I can honestly say, if I hadn’t watched, in total admiration, Robbie’s journey I would not have started on this amazing, life-changing journey myself.

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

For me, the best thing about being on this journey and about being a beauty queen is the wonderful and amazing people I have met, who, without this shared passion, our paths may never have crossed. It also is an opportunity to remind society that beauty comes from within and that regardless of how someone looks on the outside, it is really how a person acts, behaves, and treats others that allows their true beauty to shine through.

What is the downside to being a beauty queen?

Is there really a downside to being a beauty queen? I don’t believe so. Pageants and the pageant industry are largely misunderstood and I think, at times, are largely misrepresented. We are in such a powerful position to change society’s misconceptions about what it means to be a beauty queen. What better opportunity and platform to raise awareness about societal issues that are so often hidden because no one is prepared to talk about them… yet here we are strong, smart, beautiful women from all walks of life sharing their stories with total rawness, integrity, and authenticity that people will, and do, sit back and listen. Where is the downside in that!

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

Being crowned the inaugural Ms. Australia World Universal has obviously been a highlight, but my journey has only just begun. For me, it is the friendships I have formed. Living in rural NSW, I don’t always get the opportunity to meet people outside of my existing circle of family, friends, and work colleagues, so being able to build new friendships with an incredibly inspiring group of people means so much. I know there will be more memorable experiences to come, but I also know it is the people I meet along the way who will be one of the biggest wins I take with me on this journey.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Without a doubt, by beautiful sash sisters! I absolutely LOVE that we are all so different, yet so connected by this shared experience.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry? This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The value in being the real YOU. Real, genuine, and authentic. That is true beauty right there!

Since I entered, I have always said, I will be a part of the pageant industry for as long as I don’t need to change the person I am and what I believe in. The moment I feel the need to compromise who I am and change the way I treat people and/or the way I behave is the moment I hang up my crow.

Working in an industry whose emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

I am incredibly lucky to have friends and family around me who keep things real.

Maturity, life experience coupled with a lot of travel to different and remote cultures has helped keep me grounded all of my life, but the biggest and the best thing that keeps me grounded every day is my gorgeous son, Flynn! Flynn, at the age of 6, nearly 7, still has the ability to look at life with innocence and honesty that is so beautiful and amazing to watch. The privilege of watching this beautiful human grow and learn every day is my daily reminder of what is truly important in life.

I want Flynn to grow up understanding the importance of getting to know someone before they judge them, that he learns there is more to a person than how they look or the clothes they wear. I want Flynn to grow up knowing that it is not how someone looks that define their character or the person they are and have the potential to be and the only way I can teach him these things is to behave and treat people the way I hope Flynn will behave and treat others.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

Yes. My friends and family believe in me and all know I would never be a part of something I didn’t believe in so they support me wherever and how ever they can.

What are your future plans? Inside Pageantry or out of it?

My Ms. World Universal journey has sparked something in me. It has made me realise I have so much more to give to others. My journey will continue and I will continue to support and advocate for anti-bullying and suicide prevention and am currently in touch with a national anti-bullying organisation to look at how I can introduce anti-bullying education programs into more regional areas. I also want to continue working with Robbie to help grow the Ms. World Universal Pageant in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania – this Pageant has the capacity to change lives, and I want to help be a part of that change.

Outside of pageantry – I have been an Event Director by profession and have spent most of my working career in the not-for-profit sector. Covid 19 and the International pandemic changed has changed the events industry and as a result, I was made redundant and forced to re-evaluate my career. Covid has opened doors into a new career path in the Holiday Property Industry which has also allowed me the luxury of time and focus to set up my own business, Meraki Events and Public Relations, a business I hope will allow me to lend my Events and Public Relations background and experience to the Pageant Industry.

The Lightning fast round:

  1. The last good movie I have seen: The Greatest Showman – I haven’t been to the movies for quite some time, but The Greatest Showman is one of those feelgood movies that I thoroughly enjoy every time I see it.
  2. What do you consider beautiful and why?  I find beauty in so many different things, but for me, true beauty comes from within. The most beautiful person is someone who treats people with kindness, respect and equality. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou.
  3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could: hike the full length of the Pacific Crest Trail (all 2,650 miles or 4264.762 kms of it)
  4. If I had no fear, I’d… Climb Mt Everest! I have been to Everest Base Camp and just being at the base of the world’s tallest mountain was one thing… to climb it would be an entirely different experience.
  5. What is the one ‘flaw’ you wouldn’t change about yourself? I have been told many times “You are too kind for your own good!” Maybe I am, and maybe my kindness gets me taken advantage of or gets me hurt from time to time, but I won’t ever change that part of myself. I would rather feel disappointed or hurt from time to time than stop being kind to others. That’s part of who I am and it is who I will always be. If kindness is a flaw, then it is a flaw I am happy to have.

Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The March 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Chantelle O’Donohoe

Chantelle Patrice O’Donohoe is an inspirational beauty queen and a role model – she’s an empowered woman, mother, teacher, student, volunteer, and advocate. She has a strong passion for helping various charities and raising awareness for children’s medical services as well as children’s education. She also has a sincere concern for bridging the gap within the education of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians. Chantelle is also a mother who raises awareness for social issues and injustices and who has amazingly donated over 600 hours of her personal time to volunteering. She won Charity queen of the year at the Australian Golden Sash Awards in 2019 and was recently crowned the winner at the ultimate covergirl search held by GEQ.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Chantelle to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?

It was more a case of me discovering pageantry. After spending a number of years competing in modelling competitions I sought out an outlet that would enable me to raise a voice for the charity services that I enjoyed working with. Unfortunately, competitive modelling was not the scene for this and after extensive googling, I discovered that pageantry existed within Australia and excitedly joined my first pageant.

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

My absolutely favourite part of being a beauty queen is the opportunity to speak publicly on issues, injustices, and charity awareness on a much larger scale. It has enabled me the opportunity to be commended for my work within the social sector and also to form great partnerships with charity organisations.

The downside to being a beauty queen?

Judgment. There has been a stigma around pageantry for a number of years and it can take some time and explanation for people to understand the incredible growth and opportunity that you receive through pageantry.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

Wow! There have been so many amazing memories that it is hard to pinpoint one specifically. I love every and any opportunity to get out in my community to speak on pageantry and Australian charities but I think my most memorable experience so far was when my daughter and I had won titles within the same pageantry system and had an entire year of sharing that joy together.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have been blessed to meet some truly incredible people throughout my journey as a beauty queen and I am thankful for each person I meet. Every person brings their own element.

There are some beautiful people who have stood out to me through pageantry and some incredible people who have stood out through charitable works that we have conducted together.

It is too difficult for me to break these down into individual names. There are so many amazing people.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson that I have learned throughout pageantry is that I am enough. In fact, I’m more than enough. I’m brilliant. And it was through pageantry that I began to develop my confidence and truly found myself.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

This has always been something that I struggled with, even back in my competitive modelling days. However, I did find that once I had allowed myself to focus on the opportunity, the experience, and the relationships formed you find that you will easily stay grounded. I also personally found it handy to throw myself further into my charitable works rather than focusing on my walks and wights, etc. changing my focus has allowed me to reduce my anxieties in these areas and also keeps me grounded.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

My partner and my daughter are my biggest supporters. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family.

What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

I would love to attend an International Finals at some point so that I can wear a gown inspired by my Aboriginal heritage on the world stage. This is my greatest goal within pageantry. I can’t wait to share my culture with the world.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Lion King (2019).

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? People. All people are beautiful for their individuality and their incredible unique minds. They truly fascinate me.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Complete the Kokoda trail.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” run for Prime Minister.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? My anxiety. As much as I may feel like it holds me back sometimes it also makes me who I am and keeps me on my toes.

Buckle Up, Australia: A Dynamic Multicultural Fashion Show Is Set To Hit Sydney In Less Than 3 Weeks!

The first-ever AMFF (Australian Multicultural Fashion Festival) has been moved from February 20 to Saturday, March 27 to make way for interstate designers and we can’t be more excited.

AMFF is a platform pioneered by StarCentral Media Group and The Australian Millionaires Business Network. It provides a sustainable platform for international and emerging designers that effectively engage with Australia’s diverse communities and presents an opportunity for designers to showcase their uniqueness and cultural nuances.

To find out more about AMFF, check out the details below:

What: The Australian Multicultural Fashion Festival
Where: PIA Grand Auditorium (2 Australia Avenue, Olympic Park)
When: Saturday, March 27, 2021
Tickets: Contact Vicky Chew on 0449 551 236

Meet The Men Behind The Cover Of The February 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Jojo Sebastian & Quintin James

Quintin James

Quintin began his career at the age of 15 dancing in a charity performance for The Cancer Council and hasn’t looked back since then. Working in theme parks, cruise ships, musical theatre (A Chorus Line, West Side Story), tours(Kylie Minogue, Human Nature, Bardot, Scandalous), TV, and fashion he has cemented his place in both the creative arts as a performer, choreographer, and director as well being involved in the production of creative works and fashion shows both nationally and internationally.

Working closely with modeling agencies, fashion houses, and models for more than 20 years has given Quintin an insight into not only understanding the inner workings of the industry but also what it takes to make it in an ever-growing and competitive market. Whether it be choreographing a fashion parade, directing models, pageant contestants, or working as a runway model coach, Quintin’s creative and unique perspective is what has made him a sought-after professional in high demand.

As a well-known and respected Confidence Coach. Quintin works on building a greater sense of natural confidence with his clients, no matter where they are in their confidence journey. GEQ magazine recently sat down with Quintin and here’s what went down:

1. How did you get into the pageant industry?

I got into the pageantry industry by being asked to judge then asked to run workshops for the contestants on walking, posing, and poise as well as overall performance coaching.

2. What do you like most about being a pageant coach?

What I like most about being a pageant coach is that I get to contribute to the overall success of the person not just in the pageant system but in life as they take the skills I teach into everything that they do.

3. Downside to being a pageant coach?

I personally don’t think there is a downside to being a pageant coach. My goal is to focus on the person I am working with and what their individual goal is. I don’t worry about anything else except improving my client.

4. What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

I like all areas of the pageant industry, whether I am judging or coaching it is great to mentor and be an educator for those wanting to get ahead in their chosen field both on and off the catwalk. Memorable moments for me are all the time because I consistently see change and development and to me that’s great.

5. Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Overall working with Kylie Minogue and Baz Luhrmann would have to be the most interesting people I have met in a work environment. In saying that I have worked with many talented famous and not-so-famous people that impress and interest me.

6. What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I have learned in the pageantry industry is to be honest and true. Be memorable and be kind.

7. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My most valuable lesson is to always be true to yourself and embrace yourself as uniqueness is the best quality. Also to listen and absorb what people are teaching you.

8. What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are to work as a Confidence and Performance Coach as well as to continue my work as a Runway model coach and Fashion Choreographer. I am currently writing a book and look forward to the opportunity to help many people around the world.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Sicario

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Beauty is embarrassing yourself and being kind to others.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I want to appear on Ellen.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” swim with sharks.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? I am a perfectionist, even though I know perfection doesn’t exist I put high expectations on myself and always strive for perfection. That can create extra stress on me.

Jojo Almazora Sebastian

Jojo Almazora Sebastian is a devoted and compassionate nurse in the Operating Theatre at a busy Metropolitan Hospital in Sydney. However, on weekends, this orthopaedic nurse transforms into a charming and dashing tuxedo attired singer-entertainer and master of ceremony. A veteran of the United States Military Forces, he could be seen regularly in concerts where he performs as a front act for artists both locally and internationally. He is the main staple in the Local and International Pageant in the last 17 years.

Jojo was named the Australian Best Pageant Host in the Australian Golden Sash Awards for both 2019 and 2020. At the beginning of 2020, he was named as the Most Influential Person of the Year and Musician of the Year in Ava’s World Magazine Awards. In the same year, this former University Professor participated in Sydney Sings for Hope Concert for the benefit of the front liners for the Bush Fire that happened in NSW. He also lent his voice in the Heroes of the World Album recording the song “Walang Mahirap sa Buhay” written and arranged by Oliver Gadista.

In July 2020, this former disc jockey of Brother Joe and Pinoy Love Crew represented Australia in the First Virtual Edition of the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA 2020). Furthermore, he will be representing Australia once again in the 25th Year of the World Championship of Performing Arts to be held in California USA in July 2021.

Recently, Jojo was nominated and awarded in the Inaugural Sydney’s Best Dressed due to his good dressing sense and confident personality. Moreover, he released his debut Christmas Album entitled: “Christmas Ain’t Christmas Without You” released 30th October 2020. Furthermore, he has received a nomination for the Manila’s Best Dressed for 2020-2021 to represent Australia in the prestigious Annual Event.

In 2021, Jojo aspires to broaden his horizon as an individual and concentrate on his advocacies he has been helping in the past 10 years. His advocacies include the following: (1) children and (2) Volunteerism. For the Children, he continues to support the various charitable institution and fundraised for Sydney Children’s Hospital and Cerebral Palsy Foundation. He also provides scholarships for the less fortunate in the Philippines to continue a college education.

One of the projects he really wanted to concentrate on in 2021 is Community Service by Volunteerism. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain. Volunteering is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. Jojo highly believes that if our community comes together and volunteer even for just a couple of hours a month under any charitable institution and non-profit organisation – it will make a positive difference in the personal and professional aspects of all individuals involved, especially oneself. He furthers state that he would like for the community to realise to volunteer is a social responsibility of all its member especially to the marginalised and disadvantaged.

Consequently, Jojo was just also declared a finalist in the Mister Diamond International Australia 2021 which will be held in April 2021. GEQ magazine recently caught up with Jojo and here’s what went down:

1. How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?

Pageantry is something innate in my family. I have numerous aunts, as well as both male and female cousins who are very active in pageantry back in the Philippines and Hawaii. I found myself interlaced with pageantry at the very young age of 7. Where I represented the country – USA in the Mr and Miss United Nations held at my primary school – South City Homes Academy, Binan, Laguna Philippines. I remember being crowned Mr. United Nations. That paved the way for me to be interested in pageantry. However, I actually just realised what impact pageantry had on me, in high school. Most of my classmates who joined pageantry approaches me and asks me to help them out with their talent. Normally it would be an interpretative dance or a national ethnic dance. An experience I can never forget was when a Filipino-Indian classmate approached me to teach her a Bollywood Dance. This was in 1994. I took the challenge and we won best in talent! That is how I got into pageantry.

In regards to discovery, I was discovered in male pageantry in college. When I joined Mr. Engineering 1996 at the University of Perpetual Help in Laguna. I represented the sophomore year. It was a very unforgettable experience because not only did I win 4 minor awards, I also placed 1st Runner Up at the coronation night. That experience got me started in pageants. And 20 years later, I am once again throwing my hat in pageantry – when I represent NSW and Australia in the Mr. Diamond International 2021 to be held in Brisbane this coming April 2021.

2. What do you like most about being a King/Finalist?

Besides the experience and the comradery, what I like the most whilst joining pageants are conceptualizing projects and undertakings that assist charitable institutions that I personally handpicked to support, fundraise, and contribute to during the pageant. The reason I like this the most is that I am able to use the platform that the pageant provides me to make a difference. The difference made is the most important thing to me because it could promote and assist change that I would like to see in the community.

3. Downside to being a King/Finalist?

For me, there are more advantages in participating in Pageantry than disadvantages.

One of the disadvantages is that pageants could be very expensive. However, one must be smart about this. I normally tend to go back to belongings. For example, Clothes to wear during any segment of the competition. I tend to get excited to be creative, imaginative, and resourceful with what I use which mainly comes from what I owned.

Another downside of being the Finalist in a pageant is the stigma of being self-absorbed and self-privileged. From my experience, this is normally the opposite. People in pageantry are very humble, charitable, and social.

4. What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

Honestly, the most memorable experience for me in pageantry is the friendship I have made so far. I have met the most incredible and empowering individuals in Australian Pageantry. This has motivated and inspired me to be a better person not just for myself but mostly for my community. Another memorable experience for me is, winning the Australian Golden Sash Awards – Best Pageant Host in 2019 and 2020 and the Most Promising Pageant King of 2020. These awards encouraged and stimulated me to be better.

5. Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

There are so many interesting and noteworthy individuals I have met in Pageantry in general. However, three of the individuals who had made a great impression on me are (1) Mary Rose Salubre – CEO of Australasia Official – empowerment and generosity, (2) Mark Baylon – Managing Director of Miss Earth Australia – compassion, never-say-die attitude, and creativity; and (3) Sue Turner of GEQ Magazine – Kindness and Love of Others. Amongst the so many individuals who shine luminously and dazzlingly in Australian Pageantry, these three individuals made a huge impact with me. I believe set the golden standard of empowering the various individual in the community in their very own beautiful way.

6. What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in pageantry is to always be helpful to one another because we aim to reach the same goal. And if we help each other it is likely that we will achieve the mission and vision we set forth.

7. Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

I stayed grounded by reminding myself of my personal mission. However, this will not be possible without the help and support of my family – Josephine Sebastian (mom) and the whole of my family, partner, friends, and community. I dedicate and share my accomplishments with them.

8. Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry.

YES! They are my primary support and encouragement in all that I do. They never fail to make me feel that I have made a difference every day.

9.What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

I would love to continue to support the charitable institutions that I have been supporting for years – Salvation Army, Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and Philippine and Australian Red Cross.

I also would like to continue to fund high school students and send them to University in the Philippines.

Finally, I would like to continue to fundraise for abused children.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: FRIENDS on Netflix

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? My mom – Josephine Sebastian. She gave me life and she is my life.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Become a foster parent.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I would…” not be able to challenge myself to do things that I would not dream of doing like pageantry…

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Being a worrywart, because my partner mentioned how loving and affectionate I could be.

Meet The Model Behind The Cover Of The November 2020 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: The Stunning Abi Grigsby

Abi Grigsby, the beautiful, charming, and angelic model has established herself as one of the hardest-working models in the industry. She initially got into the modelling industry by entering beauty pageants. She first joined the Top Model of the World Philippines pageant back in July 2016 within 2 weeks’ notice. The pageant needed a certain number in order for the competition to go ahead and she was contacted by the director of the pageant to join. She eventually became the second runner up, which shocked her as she had no previous experience at all in pageants sho she wasn’t even expecting to make it into the Top 5.

The following year she entered a pageant called “Mutya Ng Pilipinas Australia” (Pearl of Australia) beauty pageant. She gained a lot of exposure in the modelling industry by joining this pageant which lead her into me meeting the majority of the photographers that she now works with regularly. When she competed overseas she also gained several contacts with various modelling agencies and photographers over there and throughout 2017 she also competed in the Miss International Australia pageant where she finished as Second Runner Up, as well as winning the Miss Model of the World Title. Furthermore, she competed in the Miss Teen Universe Australia pageant in December of that year. All of these competitions lead her to meet so many creatives in the industry; photographers who were looking for fresh faces to shoot, as well as makeup artists who needed a model to work on for skill enhancements. Slowly, through these connections, she was able to build the network that she currently has.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Abi to discuss her journey in the modelling industry and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about being a model?

The thing I enjoy most about being a model would have to be the newfound confidence that I have gained over the years as a model. I was someone who really used to struggle with self-esteem issues, but it wasn’t until I started modelling that I came to accept and be happy with how I look, and the person that I am.

I have also been fortunate enough to work with various creatives who each provided a different style for each shoot, which has given me the option to explore with different looks. I started modelling For Milliner’s designs in late 2018, my first designer being Anna Bella Millinery, who is based in London. I modelled at the Melbourne Derby Day, showing off her dress designs and her hats with other models. I also modelled for Felicity Northeast Milliner for her spring collection in 2019, which was featured in Mornington Peninsula magazine.

I had never modelled such high-class designs before, so this experience itself really helped me feel comfortable in my own skin, and opened me up to another world!

The Downside to being a model?

The downside to being a model that I have encountered would have to be that people tend to make assumptions about you and your personality when you tell them that you’re a model. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they thought I’d be a snobby/conceited person because of the fact that I model, rather than taking the time to get to know me first.

A lot of people will make assumptions about you based on your profession, but I try not to let this bother me and stay focused on what I want by working hard and not allowing room for distractions.

Another downside is that many people who aren’t in the industry assume that modelling is easy, or requires little to no effort at all. To be a model takes great perseverance and determination, as many models such as myself face constant rejection and negative comments about our appearance/body. It takes a lot of work to get into the industry, which is something that many people look over. It can get discouraging at times, but I find it’s best for myself to always remind myself of the hard work I have gone through, and to realise that I don’t owe everyone an explanation.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the modelling industry so far?

Thinking back to when I started, I can’t actually pinpoint an exact memory from modelling that has stuck with me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every step, but the most memorable experience of being in the modelling industry would have to be the whole experience that comes on the day of a photo shoot. I live an hour and a half away from Melbourne city, which is where the majority of my shoots takes place. I always enjoy the travel into the city, as well as travelling to where my photoshoots take place, as the majority of the time it is not at the same place. Aside from the travel, I do enjoy dressing up and getting glammed up for my shoots. I feel most like myself when I am dolled up and in front of the camera!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’d say the most interesting people I’ve met would have to be some of the photographers and makeup artists that I meet while I’m on set. Many of the creatives that I work with are a lot like me, they often take up photography/makeup as a side job, rather than their full-time job. It’s nice to meet people who are similar to you, and share similar interests while also working other jobs, and working incredibly hard so they are able to project themselves further in the industry.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the modelling industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I have learned would be to not compare myself to others. Before I began modelling I never thought I would have a chance, as I compared myself to many other high profile models, such as Miranda Kerr. I always assumed that because I didn’t look like these girls I saw in billboards and commercials that I wouldn’t make it at all in the modelling world.

However as continued on and booked more jobs, I realised that every different look will serve a purpose for each job/photographer. There will always be someone out there who will need a look like yours for a certain job/promotion, so I’ve learned that I shouldn’t bother worrying about looking like someone else when looking exactly the way you do is more than enough.

Is your family supportive of you being a model?

Yes, fortunately, my family is very supportive of my modelling! My mother wanted me to start modelling when I was 13, however, I had very little confidence back then and I was also very shy. I did not see myself as someone who could get far in the industry at all, and I also at the time had assumed that people would think of me as very conceited if I started modelling. I didn’t have a very positive view of the modelling world, or of models themselves, which was a real deterrent for me at that time.

As the years went by and as I developed a love for beauty pageants, it also shifted my focus onto modelling, and it wasn’t until I started my first few photoshoots that I really started to enjoy what I was doing, and then made the decision to go as far as I possibly could in the industry.

The Photo Studio Fitzroy;Fashion Satomi Matsura; Abagail Grigsby

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

The main thing I would do differently would be to not jump at every opportunity that comes my way, no matter how big of a deal it may seem to be at first. I used to do this a lot when I first started in the industry, and I would just throw myself out to any opportunity that came my way, without thinking things through clearly. This resulted in a lot of waste of time and money for myself, as I was promised certain jobs would lead to very high exposure/good money, while actually resulting in none of that.

So if I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to rush things too much and to take it slow. Not every opportunity is what it claims to be, and when the time is right, the right opportunity will come!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to take my time. Often I’ve been really impatient and have compared myself to others who have gotten further in the industry in a shorter amount of time. I’m fortunate to have a close group of friends who support me fully and encourage me to remain patient and on track, and who assure me that things will work in my way if I continue to remain focused and not be put off by others in any way.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are to travel overseas and to pick up both modelling and acting overseas. With the current Covid-19 situation, that will likely be put on hold for a while. My plan was to travel towards the end of this year for a few months and to then see if I could establish a career in a different country, but again, I will need to remain patient in my endeavours, and hopefully, things will be able to pick up for my career in the near future.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Just go with it. (On Netflix)

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? As cliche as it sounds, inner beauty will always be more important than physical beauty. The way you treat other people and your kindness is something that greatly impacts another person, without even realising it. It’s always better to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside!

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Travel the world!

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d… ” try bungee jumping.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? The one “flaw” I will never change is being too picky/ too much of a perfectionist. I’ve often been teased about this by my friends, saying I care too much about things that they don’t perceive as important. But it’s this trait that I have that has caused me to get to where I am today, as I’ve focused a lot of my energy towards what I know I want in life, and have not allowed distractions to get in the way.

GRIAD4823

Buckle Up, Australia: The 2020 Australian Golden Sash Awards Is Set To Hit Sydney In Less Than 4 Weeks!

The AGSA (Australian Golden Sash Awards) is a ceremony aimed at showcasing Australian beauty queens who have made the most outstanding contributions to the pageant industry during the year.

To provide integrity in the judging of the categories, National Directors are typically invited to nominate beauty queens who have competed in their respective pageant systems in the specified categories. Entries are usually judged by the entire pageant community. You must be a National Director, a titleholder, or a beauty pageant contestant to be eligible to vote.

This annual event is the first of its kind in Australia. The ceremony is brought to you by MS Entertainment Network in collaboration with StarCentral Magazine.

Unfortunately for 2020, biosecurity measures and travel restrictions have been put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thus, Australia’s borders are closed and sadly, other National Directors and beauty queens from interstate and overseas are unable to join our 2020 celebration.

Since we have COVID-19 restrictions in place, this year for AGSA, we have not opened nominations and there will also be no voting open from the pageant community; for 2020, each National Director can nominate their own champions from their respective pageant systems and they can award their champions during the AGSA ceremony. The National Directors who are unable to attend AGSA will be able to nominate their respective champions and AGSA certificates will be issued to their chosen winners.

On a happy note, the 2020 Australian Golden Sash Awards officially got sold out in less than a week and we look forward to seeing the pageant community celebrate with us before the year ends! We’d like to thank our major sponsors for this event: Sanjiv Bhalla’s Elite Supermodel Australia and St. Patrick’s College Australia. Thank you for continually supporting our projects.

Beauty Queen Spotlight: Get To Know The Beautiful Erin Giblin-Lloyd

Erin Giblin-Lloyd was Miss Junior Teen Diamond Australia 2018. The memory of receiving the crown back in 2018 is still something that plays on repeat in Erin’s mind, it served as a reminder that hard work, determination, and the support from your loved ones, can help anyone achieve anything. 2018 was her third year competing in Miss Diamond Australia pageant, and every year she felt a part of something bigger than just a beauty pageant – Miss Diamond Australia became a family. Although she never expected to win, it was the icing on the cake as she had the pleasure of competing with girls she can now call close friends. Thanks to Miss Diamond Australia and the opportunities winning gave her, she went on to win the Miss Teen Category Grand Winner in December that year at the Face Australia Glamour Awards – this helped her to move on and win Miss Teen Globe Australia. She was also given the chance to judge other pageants, which was quite different for her as it’s a completely different experience where you have to make decisions that can impact the people involved differently – she enjoyed the experience none the less. She has decided to step back from the modelling world for a while as she is currently pursuing an education in university studying Bachelor of Criminology with her sights set on joining the Queensland Police Force in the not too distant future.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Erin to discuss her journey in the pageant world and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the pageant industry?

I entered a Miss country girl pageant when I was 11. This pageant, the photoshoot, and the images that I received at the end of the event was what actually helped me to become discovered and get my foot in the door of the pageant industry.

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

The thing I like most about being a beauty queen is being able to set an example to the younger prince and princesses and show them although they may think the pageant is based on how pretty you are on the outside but that isn’t the only case – the way to hold yourself and treat others far outweighs how well you walk down the catwalk.

The downside to being a beauty queen?

I must be one of the lucky ones as I have been blessed enough that I have not found a downside to being a beauty queen the pageants I have entered have only ever left me with the knowledge to help me move further in the pageant industry.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

My most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far would be when I won Miss Teen Globe Australia and became eligible to represent my country Australia at Paraguay.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The most interesting person I have meet so far in the modelling industry would have to be Rocky Gathercole – meeting him and having the incredible opportunity to model for him on the runway in 2018 at the Face Australia Glamour Awards where I won Grand Winner in the Miss Teen Category was an anazing experience.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or yourself.

With hard work and determination you can achieve more than you ever thought possible. Being a beauty queen has also shown me that being in the pageant industry gives people a platform to help people not only during the course of the event but as a friend and mentor.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

I have used my farm life where there is always something to be done to stay grounded because in the farm it doesn’t matter what title you hold or how many crowns you have.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

My involvement in the pageant industry would not be possible without the never-ending love and support that I get from my family, especially from my mum as she has taught me everything I needed to know to get me to where I am today.

What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

I have been apart of the pageant industry since I was 11 and it has certainly helped shape me to be the person I am today. I have decided to take a step back from pageantry though so I can pursue a career in Criminology with hopes of ending up in the Queensland Police Force in the not too distant future. I will return to the pageant industry at some point eventually.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Pay it forward

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Beautiful to me is respect, care and simplicity. This is because having respect and care for yourself and other people far outshines the other characteristics of a person and I see simple as beautiful because something doesn’t need to be fancy and expensive to be considered beautiful.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I haven’t yet had the chance to travel to Scotland and this is something I wish to do in the future.

4. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? It depends on what you classify as a “flaw” but last year I was diagnosed Follicular Carcinoma which is a type of cancer that affects the thyroid. I underwent radiation therapy whist doing my last year of schooling and preparing for my HSC exams. I wouldn’t change this “flaw” as it helped me realize that even though life can get difficult – if I put my head down and never give up I can push myself to achieve things I once thought was impossible. I also managed to pass all of my HSC exams.

Brittany Dickson Has Officially Been Crowned Miss Earth Australia 2020

When the Miss Earth Australia grand coronation night was postponed recently due to Coronavirus – and with the grand finals going virtual for the first time – these beauty queens refused to let the pandemic kill their dreams.

Three worthy queens vied for a single crown on Saturday, August 15, 2020, and this year’s cream of the crop for Miss Earth Australia consisted of three of last year’s elemental queens namely Brittany Dickson, Karyn Xie, and Sheridan Mortlock.

Due to the Coronavirus restrictions, the judging for this year’s competition was divided into three parts: online voting, online interview with high profile bloggers and judges, and a live interview with several high profile judges which included StarCentral’s very own managing director Mike Ilagan. The live judging was held at the prestigious Hotel Stamford in Circular Quay on Saturday, August 15, 2020.

Photo Credit: Dave Choo

For the first round of judging which was via online voting, out of thousands of votes that were cast online, 47% were considered valid votes – and the results were as follows: Brittany lead all scores at 44.44%, Sheridan came next at 34.40% followed by Karyn who had 21.19%.

Next up was judging by online judges and bloggers. The final scores from the online blogger interview last week were judged by Adam Genato of Sash Factor, Louis Yap of Miss Earth Moments, Angel Strong of Miss Earth Beauties, and Norman Tinio of Norman.com.

Their feedback was unanimous and the online interview scores were counted as 20% towards the queen’s overall scores. The results for the online blogger interview were as follows: Brittany lead the way at 91.63%, Sheridan came next at 90.81% followed by Karyn who scored 84.19%.

Finally, it all came down to the last panel interview which contributed to 70% towards the queens’ overall score. After the grueling task of selecting the new Environmental Queen down under and after all the judges’ scores were tallied, the decision is now final and we are proud to announce that the new Miss Earth Australia 2020 is none other than the beautiful Brittany Dickson! Congrats to the newly crowned environmental queen down under and we’re 100% behind you in your journey to the grand finals.