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Dear Pageant Girl,

For the first time in Miss Universe Australia history we have a record number of returns.  Sometimes the drive to compete is so intense that to end up first runner up only intensifies one’s determination to succeed and they willingly gamble their reputation and pride to give it one more go.

Often they come back better than ever.  Case in point: Rachael Finch (who competed for the crown twice – she did not place in 2008 and took home the crown in 2009).

With all the repeat contestants for the 2013 Miss Universe Australia, this could possibly be the most exciting and controversial year yet.

As I said earlier, to end up the second most beautiful woman of the year is no mean feat. But to come back and put your neck on the line the second time around and have that kind of pressure on your shoulders is either incredibly inspired or terribly foolish.

Tegan Martin was a hot favourite when she competed in 2011. Tegan impressed everyone she met with her Barbie-like features and down to earth personality.  I was one of the judges for the 2011 NSW Heats and every time Tegan came on stage, you just can’t take your eyes off her.  As Deborah Miller, Miss Universe Australia Director and beauty maven would say, “she shone like the sun”.  The first time I laid eyes on her, she took my breath away, and surprised me even further by having a beautiful personality.

Tegan embodies your typical Aussie girl next door: friendly, approachable, outdoorsy, loveable and beautiful.  But don’t be fooled by her bubbly and sweet exterior.  Deep inside beats a heart that is determined, focused and driven to succeed.  Get Tegan on stage and immediately she gets into the zone.

It was no surprise that she ended up in the top five and after an amazing answer to a killer final question, many who attended finals night believed Tegan had caused an upset and snatch victory from the hands of crowd favourite, Scherri-Lee Biggs.

History has dictated otherwise and while Tegan ended up first runner, she has since won the Cosmopolitan Model competition and was flown to Paris to work for a few months, sharpening her skills and developing her art.

Tegan is one of the most memorable contestants from 2011.  Everyone who meets Tegan falls in love with her.  Miss Universe Australia judges, employees, sponsors and fellow contestants all love her and it is not uncommon whenever Tegan becomes the subject of discussion that we would receive the response “Oh we LOVE Tegan”.

And after having a year off pageants, Tegan is back and is looking amazing.

Let’s re-acquaint ourselves with this blonde stunner.


Tell me about the last time you competed for the crown. How was that experience?

The last time I competed for the crown was in 2011. It was not something I had ever imagined myself doing and my decision to enter was very last minute but it was the result of a chain of events. Firstly I had won the Face of Frock On – a Newcastle modelling competition and fundraiser for Autism Spectrum Australia’s Hunter School, closely followed by being crowned Miss Sydney Australia in 2011. Soon after, I went directly through to the top 100 for Australia’s Next Top Model – the judges told me I was beautiful although one described pageants as “cheesy”. Within a few days I was at the preliminaries for Miss Universe Australia. At that stage I was completely unprepared! “Flying by the seat of my pants” one might say. Once I progressed to the next stage I had to start getting serious and really began focussing on my preparation which combined with my already busy schedule meant life was pretty hectic. Next I was a NSW finalist – wow! I was meeting some wonderful people and becoming immersed in a whole new world. Finally after much hard work – the national final. The experience was… challenging, tiring, glamorous, exhilarating but so much fun!! The girls were beautiful and friendly and the organisers and co-ordinators friendly and supportive, many of whom I still keep in contact with. This journey has been one of my most memorable and rewarding lifetime experiences to date. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved!

Tell me about what it was like for you placing first runner up?

To make the top 10 was more than I had expected. I was ecstatic and the adrenalin rush when my name was called was an unexplainable feeling. This feeling soon climaxed when I found myself and one other girl were the only two contestants left on stage. Standing beside Scherri-Lee, waiting for the announcement was intense but somewhat of a blur and I’m sure my heart missed a few beats! Honestly I was surprised to even find myself in that position. At that moment I really wanted to win, it was so close I could almost touch it, so naturally I was disappointed with the result. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and incredibly proud of having achieved what I had. To be placed 2nd out of thousands of girls from around the country at the tender age of 18, was certainly nothing to be ashamed of! At the end of the day it was a competition and there could only be one winner. “The judges decision is final”. I was told it was very close and judging by feedback I received after the event the response to the outcome was divided. I had competed to the best of my ability and I accepted my defeat with grace. Scherri-Lee is a beautiful girl and a friend!


What are the advantages of being beautiful?

It’s sad but true, being beautiful is a definite advantage as people are friendlier to you. It sets you apart from the crowd and opportunities seem to present themselves for no other reason than your appearance, however if this physical beauty isn’t backed up with a  beautiful soul and optimistic and diligent personality the opportunities will not come to fruition.

There has been a lot of media attention recently about the treatment of people by appearance, with journalists dressing as obese people and reporting that public reception to them has been less than desirable, this is the perfect example.

What gets you further in life – book smart or street smart?

I believe a combination of both is definitely invaluable and makes a well- rounded individual but I would have to say “street smart” is slightly ahead of “book smart”. Life has a habit of throwing unknowns at us on a regular basis. Perhaps for some of us these surprises occur rather more frequently than they do for others. This is where street smart is essential. Book smart may mean more certificates but doesn’t necessarily mean practicality. Regularly I hear of people with extensive educational qualifications missing out on a job opportunity only to be beaten by someone without any of the relevant qualifications – probably someone more street smart!


How do you define love?

Love is an intense emotion of which is incredibly empowering. To love and be loved brings us happiness and confidence. In family it is unconditional, often unspoken but that family love, I believe, is the very essence of a meaningful life. In partnership, love is so much more than physical attraction – it is the combination of two souls with an incredible desire to share life with each other and care for one another regardless of the circumstances.

Tell us about the most beautiful place you have visited in Australia.

Australia is a country with a spectacular and diverse landscape and although I have travelled extensively, here and abroad, I would have to say the harbour-side walkway at Cremorne Point is gorgeous. It is on the beautiful Sydney Harbour and I regularly run there of a morning. It never fails to take my breath away, it’s absolutely beautiful.


What are you doing now to prepare for Miss Universe Australia?

I guess you could say my preparations for this Miss Universe started immediately after the last time I competed. I have accomplished so much from then to now with extensive travel and work around the world  observing other cultures and dealing with the array of situations that arise. I consider myself far more worldly wise and prepared. I continue to lead a healthy lifestyle however  closer to the finals I will intensify my training and diet. Public speaking is something I am focussing on. Plenty of sleep, water and relaxation time to heal will be the key to my success. That’s all I’m giving away for now!

What would you do differently this time around when competing for Miss Universe Australia?

I competed to win Miss Universe Australia in 2011 as I will do again this year. I will probably follow the same procedures for this competition but ‘will up the intensity’ of my preparations. I have the advantage of knowing my weaknesses from the last pageant and will concentrate on eradicating them from this performance.


What’s the worst pick up line you have ever heard?

“Somebody better call God ‘cos He’s missing an angel”

What advise will you give Australian men when dating Australian women?

Australian women are generally fairly fun loving and approachable.  My advice would be to take it slowly and don’t overdo it with the smooth talk! Be confident, polite and respectful to women. Be yourself and don’t drink too much alcohol – that is definitely not a good foundation for successful dating!


Who makes better political leaders – men or women?

Personally I don’t believe gender plays a role in a persons’ ability to be a better political leader. What is important to me and therefore makes them a better leader is someone who is passionate in their beliefs of what is best for the country, they are authoritative yet open to constructive criticism, approachable, intelligent, excellent communicators and have good morals and values.

How are pageants different from modeling?

Pageants are about a carefully selected group of very physically attractive and intelligent young ladies of varied shapes and sizes competing against each other, yet co-operating as a team to provide a spectacular performance for the audience. Interesting concept! Pageants are exhilarating, fast and intense. They are about camaraderie and rivalry (hopefully in a positive way). Modeling is much more diverse. It is not all about beauty. Casting directors are searching for a certain look to portray a character. Models can attend heaps of castings and when on a job can spend a lot of time just waiting around. It is a different pace from pageants.


Have you looked at the competition? Who do you think is your biggest competition?

Yes I have had a brief look at the competition however I prefer not to speculate. Focusing on the other girls can provide negative energy as I am sure they are all beautiful. I prefer to concentrate on preparing myself to the best of my ability.