Tamahere resident and Miss Universe contender Ella Morgan aims to bust the stereotypes around beauty pageants.
The 18-year-old is in her second year at the University of Waikato, studying political science and public policy, and is passionate about social justice.
She also runs a dance school, teaching classes in Tamahaere, which she has done since the age of 14.
“I’ve never done any beauty pageants or anything like that,” Morgan told the Waikato Times.
When the Tamahere resident watched the grand final last year, she was inspired by how much money the entrants had raised for charity.
“And I saw that the girls on stage had a platform where they could talk about issues that were really important to them,” Morgan said.
As a student of politics and a community leader, she brings a unique personality to the contest and that’s why she wanted to bust the myth about what Miss Universe contestants are like.
“People traditionally think that beauty pageants are very focussed on skin deep beauty, and not feminist,” she said.
“But after being part of this pageant, I completely disagree.”
At university, she has studied both economic and social poverty and become especially mindful of how not all children in New Zealand have the same opportunities.
“But the thing with study is you never really get the practical opportunity to actually make a difference, which is what I’m really excited about with Miss Universe.”
For every vote in Miss Universe, a dollar goes to the Variety Children’s Charity.
Miss Universe entrants are required to be fundraising entrepreneurs – Morgan is planning a day at a preschool where, for a gold coin, children dress up as what they want to be when they grow up.
She is also planning a cake and cupcake auction in Tamahere to raise funds.
“We even get to go and meet some of the kids who are involved in Variety on a day at Rainbow’s End, so it’s not just that we’re there to raise money and we never really get to get involved,” she said.
“We really get to see the difference we’ve made, which is really rewarding.”