KUCHING: Newly crowned Miss Universe Malaysia Francisca Luhong James can add another feather to her cap as she would be inducted into the Malaysian Book of Records for being the first woman of Dayak descent to be conferred the title.
Speaking during a homecoming celebration held at a restaurant in a shopping mall here today, the Kuching lass said she was proud to be able to represent Sarawak, in particular the Dayak and Orang Ulu community, by being awarded the coveted title.
“My life has changed drastically after being crowned. I’ve had to sleep very late recently because of the media tour but I enjoy and appreciate every moment,” said Francisca, admitting that it felt ‘surreal’ when she was first announced as Miss Universe Malaysia 2020.
She said that she hoped her beauty pageant win would encourage more women to participate in the competition in the future — in line with her ‘Women Rise’ initiative to empower young women and nurture them to become future leaders.
At today’s event, Francisca also launched a fundraising activity under her initiative to assist families in Kapit who were facing flood issues.
“Being humble is very important in this industry because at the end of the day, you only have yourself, your family members and your friends. They are the one who would be with you throughout the process,” she said.
Francisca remarked that she had to overcome her stage fright initially when she first entered a beauty pageant contest and also participated in the Miss Cultural Harvest festival in 2015.
Moreover, she divulged that she was planning to pursue a Master’s degree in a local university after obtaining a degree in public relations in Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Melaka.
“Perseverance, hardworking and fun” were her answers when interviewed by Miss Cosmopolitan World Malaysia 2018 Vivienna Alfred and asked to describe herself with three words during a segment in the homecoming celebration today.
Meanwhile, Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation national director Datin Elaine Daly said Francisca would now have to go through a series of physical, mental and vocal training for about six months to prepare herself for the international Miss Universe competition.
“The Miss Universe pageantry in today’s world is not just about beauty. There is a large emphasis on being a woman of substance; a person who is confident, able to think and deliver under pressure and a woman who has a track record of helping the communities,” said Elaine.
Nonetheless, Francisca, being the eldest in the family, thanked her family and friends for supporting her throughout the entire journey.
“My fashion advice is simplicity is the best but always look classy,” said Francisca to the crowd when asked on her fashion advice.
Cultural dances were performed by dancers of Sarawak Cultural Village team and a ‘Liling Leodian’ performance was carried out by Francisca’s family members as well during the homecoming celebration.
Francisca, who is of Kayan, Kenyah and Iban descent, was the first Sarawak native to be crowned Miss Universe Malaysia in 14 years, after another Sarawakian, Adelaine Chin Ai Nee, took the prestigious title in 2007.