There are so many beauty queens whose outer beauty attracts you at first and then their inner beauty while other beauty queens slowly catch your attention with their inner beauty first and the next thing you know is that you are totally mesmerized by their inner beauty that through their personality, outer appearances or their expression on their face, you see beauty that don’t speak just in words but in silence too. And when you think of any beauty queens with such qualities, Latafale Auva’a comes to our mind. While searching for more information about her, I got to know a lot about her which left me awestruck and there’s a lot to admire about her. Her real beauty comes from what she has achieved in life, her intelligence, academic background, talent, skills etc. In short, beauty comes from within and it shows through the woman she is. Those sparking eyes and pretty face which I find outwardly beautiful started to make more sense once I get to know more about her. Beauty pageants will come and go, but there will always be someone who leave a mark for themselves irrespective of the results. Latafale sure has managed to create that mark and she will be Miss World in the hearts of many including me.
I am fortunate enough to take her interview and truly blessed to get her time for this. Here’s the interview of her. Happy Reading!
1. First of all, thank you for giving me your time for this interview. Samoa is relatively unknown to the world of pageants. How would you describe Samoa and its culture to the world?
Samoa is a beautiful collection of islands in the South Pacific with two main islands. I usually describe it to people as being an island located above New Zealand near the equator which means it’s very tropical and lush. We have a very proud 3000 year old cultural identity and are brought up performing, singing and dancing from a young age. Oceania is made up of Pacific Islands in three sections called Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. We are called the heart of the Pacific and are home to Polynesians ( brown-skinned, prominent nose and big-boned people). My island has developed its tourism with versatility as we have not traded our culture or island for commercialism.
2. You have achieved a lot in your life; winner of four beauty pageants, a sportswoman and a scholarship holder studying a double degree in Law and Music. How do you juggle your college, pageants responsibilities and work?
I like to make the most of every opportunity. Being fairly organised helps, but I also love and enjoy the things that I excel in. Last year I took a step back from studies and cut down to part-time study so I could focus on pageant responsibilities in Samoa. I was supported by my university and the Faculty of Law to make the most of the opportunity that was presented to me when I won. I like to stretch myself with various commitments the one thing that holds my sanity and motivates me to make the most of every occasion is my faith in Christ, His love and His prosperous plan for my life. The second thing that holds me together is my family. As cliché as it sounds, they keep me humble, driven and encourage me to shine my light to bring joy to others and in particular other young Pacific women who took an interest in my journey.
3. Law and music are both from a different world with contrasting identities. What’s the one thing that get’s you into these fields and are there any common links between the two that we do not know?
Law underpins the basis of society. Everything we do in the modern world is influenced by some type of law and its protecting or prohibiting power. I am definitely attracted to the influence law has especially the justice and the injustice that the law plays in our society. Similarly, music is a social influence today, particularly in youth culture. It has the ability to condone behaviors, attitudes and actions of all who listen. Music and law are a very unique combination and I believe the further society develops the more law will take an important task in protecting artists and their musical works.
4. It was during the time of Miss World that while playing‘With You’ from the Ghost: The Musical Broadway show on YouTube, I came across your cover of the same song. I thought you had such a gifted voice and it was like listening to the original song. What and who influence you to get into music?
Samoans grow up in a performance culture but a big influence that pushed me to excel in music would be my mother. She is a Music and Cultural Group Teacher for Primary Schools and both her and my Dad really pushed developing music from a young age. My elder sister, Sara-jane who is 12 years older is a well-known Pacific singer in New Zealand and I definitely aspired to be a singer that could move people like she does. Jazz was genre of music I was exposed to early as I played the tenor sax in High School and that is still the genre I most love singing followed by musical theatre and then contemporary.
5. What would be the one song that describe you the best?
‘You gotta be’ – Des’ree 🙂
6. You sang Disney’s Frozen ‘Let it go’ in more than 20 different languages at the talent round of Miss World contest. That’s an incredible talent. What are those languages and can you speak all of it?
French, German, Dutch, Mandarin, Swedish, Japanese, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Catalan, Italian, Korean to name a few.
Haha…., I can’t speak fluent all of them but I did my homework in terms of pronunciation. Speaking Samoan and a bit of Spanish helped, but mostly was my knowledge in International Phonics from my experience in Choral singing which helped me the most in pronunciation, next came the different language recordings from Disney’s multilingual recordings which I listened to for clarity.
7. At the Miss World contest, you started really well placing in almost all the Pre-event contests. Everyone expected you to place high in the finale. Many were shocked at your exclusion from the top 20. What went wrong? Were you happy with the result?
Where to start with this question. Well, nothing really went wrong for me in terms of the fast-track competition rounds. I gave my absolute best, I trained hard to make sure I had great results which would see me place highly in the finale, and I actually had incredible support from girls in different countries who believed that I would do very well in the finale having seen the effort I put into the competition. Top 5 in Talent and Top 5 in Sport, Top 10 in Beauty with a purpose which is meant to be double weighted points. It would appear to come down to this, and this is an issue that needs to be discussed. It doesn’t matter how well you do in the preliminary or fast-track events none of the events dictate your place in the competition or the top 20. We saw that first hand with Miss Namibia winning fast- track sport and not taking place in top 20. In terms of myself, the only thing that I would say could have changed my chances in placing in the top 20, or highly in this particular competition would be to change my country, the clothes I wore and to have had better modeling pictures sent in.
Sadly, I was very taken aback with not placing at all. My two goals were to win talent and to reach the top 20- any other high placing was a bonus. I went into the competition to compete fairly in all the activities, knowing I was representing a small island in the pacific but believing judging would be based on merit not on pageant politics. My heart goes out to those girls who enter into this competition in the future thinking they have some chance at competing fairly. Their Money, time and expenses are wasted culminating in a psychologically challenging month of practicing for a 2 hour show.
Disappointment taps on the door of every girls heart and the worst type of disappointment is from the injustice of not receiving what you deserved in a fair competition. I speak not just for myself, but for other girls who did very well with points and rightly deserved at least a placing in the top 20. Girls and pageant directors should understand the matrix of the competition before entering unless they are purely entering for the experience. Everyone of the beautiful girls I saw at the competition had a unique and exotic modeling look and could have made a fabulous Miss World. The competitions choice is purely and 100% subjective.
8. What was the best thing about being in the contest? What did you learn about yourself and the world?
Being able to perform my Siva Samoa or cultural dance in the dances of the World. My people are a very proud people, and with confidence in me they even got the rights to screen the show live in Samoa to tune in to watch the results. They were so proud of all of my achievements and I will always think about that opportunity I was very blessed to receive. I affirmed my belief of beauty. Beauty goes so much deeper than this competition. It really is the portrayal of the heart and I learned that being who I am; a positive, hopeful, faith-filled and loving individual can actually be showcased through photos, and videos to influence people especially in my culture. Also meeting girls!!!! explained below!
9. Who were your best gal pals? Are you still in touch with them?
I loved Miss New Zealand! She was my roomie- it helps being a New Zealander myself as well as a Samoan – we both were really like-minded with similar humour, opinions and work ethic. Of course we also went to the same University, though I had never met her before !
I also loved hanging out with Miss Zambia who has a precious heart for children, and Miss Fiji and Guam because they are my neighboring island buddies and are very down to earth and Miss Malaysia who I nicknamed Ma-lay-lay and we still keep in contact today! Miss Whales, Miss Scotland, Miss South Sudan, Miss Namibia, Miss Australia, so many girls I loved meeting and all so different!
10. Last year you had some people questioning you winning Miss Samoa representing Samoa and the unfortunate remark against your participation at the Miss World contest. The way I see it, you’re fearless, strong and outspoken. It takes a lot of strength to speak up. What do you have to say about that and from where did you get all these qualities?
Truth is Comments are fired and always make their impact on me. The challenge for me is how do I recover. I believe that love in actions speak louder than words and is the healing when shots are fired. I served my Samoan community and continue to serve them in bringing success on a world platform. Despite some thinking it was out of my league. I know my strengths, my God given talents and I have a strong ethos that when huge doors open for you- you need to have the courage to step through despite what other people think. I stepped through and, I was 1 in 130 girls who got selected to showcase Samoa Siva (dance) to a world stage, I also placed in the fast-tracks and gave Samoans a reason to celebrate in the success of their daughter on an international level. My Culture my Family and my faith are where I get my zeal and I am blessed to have them!
11. As a public figure, you’ll be scrutinized a lot. Do you watch what you speak? Or you believe in speaking out whatever is in your mind?
As the youngest of my family and in the Samoan culture you are always taught to listen, respect, serve and love. These play a huge part in my speaking and also what I post on social media. I want to be someone known for presenting 100% myself- not fake, or pretentious but me- and I believe if you ask other girls from the pageant they would tell you that I did not compromise my standards for pageantry standards. So I do watch what I say but as a law student I am interested in one thing and that is justice. There is a time for everything, if there is a time to speak my mind I will, but with honesty and respectfulness and never in a way that will aggravate a problem instead of solving it.
12. You said having a beautiful mind, spirit and carrying yourself well are what define attractiveness. What defines beauty in a woman?
I believe beauty in a woman is sought in her action. Sure, aesthetically, there are people we can gaze upon and marvel at their features. There were so many exotic beauties at Miss World each with a different complexion I found it awesome to look at the diversity. We call them beautiful- but the beauty that I am attracted to advertise is the beauty in action and attitude. What creates beauty in a woman for me is what she does not how she appears. Qualities such as kindness, faithfulness, loving herself, being joyful in herself and to others, being at peace with herself and others, having patience, gentleness and self-control is a demonstration of true beauty. If this true beauty was lived out – I believe we would be on our way to solving the identity issues we have in young woman nowadays.
13. Speaking of New Year, do you have any resolutions for 2016? And what is your plan for the future in general?
2016 will be a very different year transitioning back into full-time study. I still need to settle down and set some goals! I am an open book. I will go back into finishing off my degrees – but really tap into my creative, entertainment side this year. Hopefully some golden opportunities are waiting in the horizon- I am sure of it!
13. What would be your advice to the generations of today?
Do not be anyone but yourself. Work hard at understanding who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you want to be a model – be a model that is different from the model, and don’t compromise your standards – THAT is your branding. Strive to make your own brand and not give into some else’s. Give everything ago and battle to overcome the disappointments because they define you and your journey and eventually you’ll use those experiences to help others.
14. Any last word before we sign off this interview?
I read the article you wrote on me and others and I’d like to say thank-you for doing such amazing research. I hope you are blessed in your work and if there is any more questions feel free to email me. There is so much to cover regarding my experience in the Miss World pageant and I have so much to understand from participating! All I can say is that it was a lifetime experience that I will never forget
Thank you once again, Latafale! May you continue to be successful in whatever you do and be an inspiration for many people!