Miss Malaysia Deborah Priya HENRY opens up to us about winning her title in 2007, the responsibilities that came with it, and how she thinks her mixed ethnicity factored into the Pageantry business. In a positive and earnest sort of way, she also becomes upfront about the Miss World competition, which subsequently makes you agree to climb up one notch in your level of admiration for this young lady's character.
Yes this 22 year-old's got beauty. Yes she's got brains. And yes she's got an amusingly soft heart as she attempts to make regular women feel gratified, talking about her 'awkward teenage' years. You would struggle to believe it for a second but she does share many a young woman's dreams of great love, wonderful families, beautiful children, a lovely house, a dog in the garden, etc etc etc... Can't help but love her!
FULL NAME: Deborah Priya HENRY
PLACE OF BIRTH: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Kuala Lumpur
FAMILY: Father (Malaysian), Mother (Irish), 2 sisters and 1 brother
EDUCATION: Bachelor's Degree in Economics & Political Science, University of Queensland, 2007
How has it been since being crowned Miss Malaysia?
Frenzied! The first month shot by just dealing with the publicity of being the new Miss Malaysia. Then it was the mad rush to get everything I needed for the month-long Miss World contest in China; the outfits, the souvenirs and gift, the promo videos, learning how to dance, watching past pageants, and so on. Next thing I knew, I was in Sanya resort on Hainan Island with 105 other winners from around the world.
What was your favourite among the prizes you got?
Prizes for pageants seem to change from year to year. Previous Miss Malaysians have sometimes received cars, jewellery and other luxury products and much more. When I won Miss Malaysia-World (MMW) last year, the prizes were modest. Although it would be nice to receive more prizes, winning to me is more than that: The biggest prize as far as I am concerned is the platform being MMW gives me to do more charity work, which is my true passion.
Have you enjoyed any of your prizes? Performed any of your title responsibilities?
I have received some of the prizes. I have also done some work with the charities that are linked to MMW but quite honestly, I would love to do more with them. If anyone from the charities is reading this, I am ever willing to get more involved and to do more than just cameo appearances at your fund-raising or press events.
Have you always known you'd be a Beauty Queen?
Not at all! It was a last minute decision but I haven't looked back since. I have now won Miss Malaysia-World and have also made it to the semi-finals of Miss World; I think that's enough pageants for me!
Were you ever an 'Awkward Teenager' or did you start looking like a beauty queen early on?
Like most ladies, I experienced the awkward teenie stage. I was tall for my age when I was a kid. I have a theory that most tall people only attain full control of their muscles and thereby be able to move elegantly when they grow out of their teens! I started modeling when I was 15 so thank goodness, I had dress-sense early on. But uncooperative hair, not-so-perfect teeth and applying just the right amount of make-up were challenges back then!
Having been part of the Miss World pageant, you were a consistent crowd and critics favourite, how did that feel like?
It was a real thrill and an honour to have so many people rooting for me. Many of the girls who took part were just so gorgeous, so it was at first surprising to me that I was noticed. At first I thought it was just a flash in the pan and that, as the month wore on, other girls would surpass me. After four weeks, when I saw that I was still "up there", it was such a confidence booster! To tell you the truth, I had mixed feelings when the results were announced. On one hand, I was happy to make it into the Top 16; on the other, I felt I was good enough to have gone further. At the end of the day the final decision was made by the panel of judges. Howewer, I think the whole experience has made me better; I know what world-class competition is like and I know that if you wait for someone else to give you something, you will get disappointed. It is far better to determine and create your own destiny. And I am so blessed to have great support from a few close friends, my family and from the media.
What was the best part about being in MW?
I guess if I had to pin it down to just one thing, I would say that the experience of being part of such an intense and exciting global event was awesome. Miss World has a TV audience of over 2 billion people and has more contestants than Miss Universe. To borrow from internet terminology, I am still amazed when I think of the number of "eyeballs" I reached! I am also so happy to have had the chance to meet all the other girls; many of them were truly inspiring and will be leaders one day. I now have good friends throughout the world!
You are Eurasian yes? How would you say your being a mix of different races contributes to your modeling and pageantry success?
My father is Malaysian whose ancestors came from India and mother is Irish. I was born in Dublin, raised in Malaysia and Ireland, worked as a model in London and went to university in Brisbane. I guess I qualify as a global person. In Malaysia, I would probably also qualify to be called "rojak"! (translation: a local salad of mixed vegetables and/or fruit) More importantly, I've been exposed to different cultures, values and ways of life. I truly consider myself lucky!
What career path do you plan on taking after this?
My agenda is filling up by the minute! Aside from modeling, I will be MC-ing events and functions"¦so you won't just see me; you will be able to HEAR me too! I also hope to land TV and radio hosting work, especially if it's discovery-style documentary programs. And I really want to spend more time on my favourite charities, especially projects creating awareness about social and developmental issues. Last year, I started a print-media supplement distributed in Malaysian newspapers, which I called Project Reach. It's an 8-page round-up of everything that various charities, NGO's and care organizations are doing, including their events. It doesn't cost them anything to have their event mentioned or featured, as each issue is funded by donations from companies and individuals. My whole purpose of starting Project Reach was to give these organizations more publicity about their activities and, as a result, hopefully enable them to raise and do more for their causes. We have a circulation of 10,000 copies and I would love to double or triple it this year.
Modeling and joining pageants, do you plan to pursue those?
Modeling will still continue and hopefully I will do work in Singapore, India and other countries. I also want to do more radio and TV commercials. But read my lips: "No more pageants!"
Being very young, how do you see you life to be at age 30?
At 22, I feel blessed and incredibly fortunate to have achieved and experienced so much in my career and in my personal life. By the time I'm 30, I am hoping that at least 50% of all the plans, ideas, goals and ambition I have would have been fulfilled. Quite frankly, I have SO many ideas that maybe fulfilling even 10% would be an amazing achievement! I want to be financially self-sufficient and secure. I want to take my family on holidays. I want to have 3 to 5 charities that I dedicate my time to and feel passionate about. I want my own home with my loving husband, several children and a dog in the garden. Is this all too much to ask?...
For more information on Deborah, please visit the official Miss Malaysia World 2007 website at www.mmw.com.my