More than just beau­ties

They were once beauty queens. Now they rule the show­biz scene.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - Sto­ries by KEN­NETH CHAW en­ter­tain­[email protected]­tar.com.my

BEAUTY pageants are in full swing this month, with Miss World and Miss Uni­verse tak­ing place yes­ter­day and Dec 17 re­spec­tively. We look back at en­ter­tain­ment fig­ures who got their start in pageants.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry has a his­tory of mak­ing his­tory. After be­ing crowned Miss Ohio in 1986, she went on to com­pete in Miss USA, where she was named first run­ner-up.

The place­ment meant she would rep­re­sent her coun­try at Miss World, mak­ing her the first African-Amer­i­can woman from her coun­try to do so. Berry fin­ished sixth in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Since then, Berry has built her name as an ac­tress with iconic roles such as Storm in the X-Men movies. In 2001, she made his­tory again as the first African-Amer­i­can to win a Best Ac­tress Os­car for her per­for­mance in Mon­ster’s Ball.

Lucy Law­less

Way be­fore Lucy Law­less played the fear­less Xena in Xena: War­rior Princess, she was a beauty queen. Law­less won Mrs New Zealand in 1989, a pageant for mar­ried women.

Vanessa Wil­liams

Just six weeks be­fore Vanessa Wil­liams fin­ished her reign as Miss Amer­ica 1984, a mag­a­zine pub­lished unau­tho­rised nude pho­to­graphs of the beauty queen. Wil­liams felt pres­sured by the Miss Amer­ica or­gan­i­sa­tion to give up her crown, and she even­tu­ally agreed.

Wil­liams didn’t let the set­back get to her. She went on to carve a di­verse show­biz ca­reer, with eight al­bums to her name (cue the megahit Save The Best For Last )and nu­mer­ous TV and film roles (who can for­get the oh-so-sassy Wil­helmina Slater on Ugly Betty?).

In 2016, 32 years after the or­deal, CEO Sam Haskell apol­o­gised on be­half of the Miss Amer­ica or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Though none of us cur­rently in the or­gan­i­sa­tion were in­volved then, on be­half of to­day’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, I want to apol­o­gise to you and to your mother, Miss He­len Wil­liams.

“I want to apol­o­gise for any­thing that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss Amer­ica you are and the Miss Amer­ica you al­ways will be.”

Sush­mita Sen

In­dia had a strong track record in beauty pageants be­tween the 1990s and the early 2000s, and it started with Sush­mita Sen, who be­came the first woman from her coun­try to win Miss Uni­verse in 1994.

Since then, Sush­mita has en­joyed an il­lus­tri­ous Bol­ly­wood ca­reer, ap­pear­ing in pop­u­lar ti­tles like Main Hoon

Na and Biwi No. 1.

Aish­warya Rai

Months after Sush­mita won Miss Uni­verse, Aish­warya Rai (pic) did In­dia proud when she was named Miss World in 1994.

Of­ten called “the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world,” Aish­warya has taken Bol­ly­wood by storm, star­ring in count­less high-pro­file movie roles, in­clud­ing Dev­das, Dhoom 2 and Bride And Prej­u­dice.

So revered was her con­tri­bu­tion to In­dian cin­ema, the in­ter­na­tional film com­mu­nity took no­tice.

Aish­warya be­came the first In­dian ac­tress to be a jury mem­ber at the pres­ti­gious Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in 2003.

In 2014, the Miss

World or­gan­i­sa­tion named her the most suc­cess­ful Miss

World of all time.

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra is the woman of the hour. After star­ring in nu­mer­ous Bol­ly­wood ti­tles, Priyanka man­aged to con­quer Hol­ly­wood too in 2015 when she led the cast of Quan­tico for three sea­sons. It was a sig­nif­i­cant feat – Priyanka was the first South Asian ac­tor to head­line an Amer­i­can net­work drama series.

After Quan­tico’s can­cel­la­tion this year, Priyanka aka Mrs Nick Jonas is mov­ing on to films, star­ring op­po­site Rebel Wil­son and Liam Hemsworth in Isn’t It Ro­man­tic and Chris Pratt in Cow­boy

Ninja Vik­ing. But she got her start after win­ning Miss World 2000.

Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot may not have won Miss Uni­verse when the Is­raeli ac­tress rep­re­sented her coun­try in 2004, but she is prov­ing her­self to be the queen of a dif­fer­ent kind of uni­verse.

Won­der Woman, which sees Gadot play­ing the tit­u­lar role, has been widely cred­ited for re­viv­ing the DC Comics cin­e­matic uni­verse, after the less than pos­i­tive re­cep­for tion Bat­man V Su­per­man: Dawn Of Jus­tice and Sui­cide Squad.

Fun fact: did you know Lynda Carter, who also played Won­der Woman in the 1970s TV series, won Miss World USA 1972 and was a semi­fi­nal­ist on Miss World?

Mag­gie Che­ung

Mag­gie Che­ung was crowned Miss Hong Kong 1983 and went on to be a semi-fi­nal­ist on the Miss World stage. Post-pageant, Che­ung is an act­ing tour de force. After getting her start in com­mer-suc­cess­ful cially Po­lice Story film series, she took on meatier roles, no­tably, Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love and ex­per­i­men­tal French film Irma Vep.

Her por­trayal of a re­cov­er­ing drug ad­dict in Clean led Che­ung to win a Palme d’Or, the high­est prize at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, for Best Ac­tress in 2004.

No­table men­tions: Oprah Win­frey won Miss Black Ten­nessee 1971, Michelle Pfeif­fer won Miss Or­ange County 1978, Sharon Stone won Miss Craw­ford County 1975 and Eva Lon­go­ria won Miss Cor­pus Christi 1998.

Lucy Law­less

Halle Berry

Vanessa Wil­liams

Gal Gadot

Sush­mita Sen

Priyanka Chopra

Mag­gie Che­ung

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