Meet the Derbyshire woman representing Great Britain at Miss Universe 2022
A Derbyshire finance worker has been picked to represent Great Britain at one of the biggest international pageants. Noky Simbani will head abroad to represent the country at Miss Universe at the end of the year and stays she’s still in shock over her selection.
Noky, who lives in Hilton, will now balance her pageant life alongside a full-time job and will spend her evenings and weekends getting event-ready. But the 25-year-old, who has a master’s degree in chemical engineering, wants to remind people there’s much more to seemingly glamorous pageants than being the prettiest person on stage.
Speaking on the moment she was crowned Miss Universe GB, which qualified her as the country’s Miss Universe representative, she said: “I can’t even comprehend it. I’m still in shock. I literally fell to the floor. My knees buckled because I was in so much shock.
“It’s the biggest prize you can win in pageantry in the UK. A year ago I would never have told you I could do that, it felt beyond my wildest dreams…
“In pageants this day and age, it’s not just about being the prettiest face or walking well, you really have to have the whole package, and obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder so how you look isn’t really a factor, it’s more what you can bring as the total package.
Noky first got into pageants when she visited the Clothes Show Live, a fashion exhibition with her mum. The then 15-year-old was approached by a woman who became her first pageant director.” She continued: “At the time, I had no idea about pageants. I didn’t know anything about them, but I loved watching modelling shows, and I was like, ‘oh, that sounds great, I’ll give it a go’.
“I realised that it wasn’t just about modelling, but it’s so much more. It’s about charity work, building your personal brand and just becoming a better version of yourself.
“So I did well in the first one, and I thought I’d do some more. In 2017 I won my first national pageant and went to Vietnam to represent England, and that was incredible.”
At this point, the University of Birmingham graduate felt she had achieved her main goals in pageants and planned to stop competing, but the pandemic gave her the desire to start again.
She then decided to apply for Miss Universe GB, which is done by firstly submitting a bio and headshots. The bio should include information such as occupation, greatest achievements, and future goals, and should give judges a flavour of what a competitor can bring to the role.
Those who are successful then have an interview, where a range of topics, including current affairs, are discussed to see if contestants have the ability to be an important voice on complex issues. Noky believes the pageant itself also aims to help women be the best version of themselves.
She added: “On the first day, we had an empowerment day and a talk about how to overcome the biggest obstacles in your life. It was really cool because we got to walk on glass and break boards of wood with our hands…
“It was terrifying but you just felt incredible afterwards and so powerful.” While at the competition, a number of interviews take place and competitors are scored on these alongside their on-stage walks.
The top five contestants are also judged on their answer to a question that’s asked on stage in front of the audience. They have 30 seconds to answer it and questions are based on important current affairs.