Beauty queens team up for good cause
Winning a beauty pageant is like being selected for the All Blacks, says New Zealand's 2009 Miss World contestant, Magdalena Schoeman, who will be joined by Miss Australia Sophie Lavers at the game today.
'It's a huge thrill, it's an honour and, like being an All Black, your opinions are sought, and you are a role model. You're representing your country even when you're not 'on duty',' says Schoeman.
The 20-year-old may have been born in South Africa, but she is an All Black fan through and through.
'I moved to Christchurch when I was eight and already then I wanted to be in the Miss World Pageant. Our family in South Africa keeps sending over Springboks jerseys, but we are die-hard All Black supporters. I have met the Canterbury team, but I am really looking forward to meeting my favourite All Black, Richie McCaw. Everyone in New Zealand is raving about Sonny Bill Williams right now and saying he's the next Jonah Lomu. Seeing him play will be history in the making.'
Both Schoeman and Lavers are representatives of children's charity Variety. 'We have been looking forward to this for months,' said Lavers, 25. Although a Wallaby fan, she is looking forward to seeing the All Black haka live. 'It's so powerful, there's not much the Australian team can do but take it. I hope it doesn't baulk them at this important game. The Bledisloe here is like the Olympic Games of rugby union.'
Variety started in Hollywood around 80 years ago when a baby was left at the doorsteps of a theatre and the actors and stagehands sponsored the child. Today, it's supported by a host of celebrities including actors Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman.
'Variety has changed my life in so many ways,' Lavers said. 'I was a dancer and am completing a diploma in performance, but now I have a full-time job working with Variety, as I believe in it implicitly. I have moved from Canberra to Sydney, co-ordinating volunteers and helping with events. The charity has given me discipline, direction and independence.'
Schoeman works as a model, but still organises Variety fundraisers.
'We reigned last year, but are both still involved with the charity,' Schoeman said.
'The current Miss World New Zealand and Miss World Australia are both in Sanya, China, where the Miss World pageant is being held this weekend.'
In Hong Kong, Variety is in a position to help make a difference. According to the Hong Kong Council of Social Services, about one in four children in Hong Kong live in a household where the income is less than HK$8,000 per month.
Variety is hoping to raise over HK$100,000 this weekend.