You will compete at the Miss England Pageant, how will you prepare the contest ? What unique characteristics would you say you bring to the competition?
This year, it doesn’t really feel like I’m ‘preparing’ for the pageant. Last year when I was at the final, it felt like I tried so hard to ‘prepare’ as best I could, I wasn’t really men any more. I acted, dressed, and styled myself like the person I assumed they would want to be Miss England, and not like myself. This year, I’m just going in there as Sarah-Jane. I’ve ignored what people have told me I should or should not do, the dress colours and styles I should and should not wear, the way I absolutely MUST have my hair. I plan on showing the judges exactly who I am.
I’ve always felt like my unique selling point is my ability to be an all rounder. I’m a passionate career woman, friend, mental health campaigner, and volunteer. I’ve worked full time since I was 18 to achieve the success I currently enjoy in the workplace, I volunteer for five charities and have dedicated so much of my time to campaigning about much-needed changes in the mental health space in the UK. I want to show girls that they really can do anything and everything they want to do.
What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants?
I was scouted for a teen pageant but had never heard about pageantry before so decided to sit back and watch from afar for a few years. I fell in love with the kind of women who were crowned Miss World England, they all inspired me to do more and be better - so ever since then I have challenged myself to be one of those women, and this year I finally feel like I am ready.
What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?
I’ve already gained so much that I don’t know what more I could want! I have genuinely met some of my closest friends at Miss England heats, and I have grown into the best version of myself. I am outspoken, brave, and always striving to be the best.
With Theresa May
Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?
I work as Head of Social Media for a leading medical aesthetic clinic in Knightsbridge, London. The name of the business is ‘The Lovely Clinic’, because everything we do is not about capitalising on people’s insecurities - it’s about making people look more like how they feel on the inside. My boss is a woman in an incredibly male dominated industry; she has degrees in both medicine and dentistry, is a trained maxofacial surgeon, and runs her own business. We are an entirely female team who challenge each other to achieve more and do better every day.
When I was 18, instead of going to university like most people in the UK, I was accepted for an apprenticeship in Social and Digital Marketing. By the time I was 19 I was promoted to a digital marketing executive, before helping to start a leading youth media publication. I then worked as a web journalist for several years, with my articles being read by over 60 million people each year. I had always dreamed of moving to London, and was able to do so entirely on my own, aged just 20. I’m now 22 and proud to be miles ahead of the majority of my age group in terms of my career.
Many misses have said that their dream since a child was to participate in a pageant as prestigious as Miss World (or Miss Universe). It this your case ? And if so, why ?
The honest answer is that I had never even heard of Miss World until my teenage years. My mother, a single mother, has always been my biggest role model because of her conviction and strong beliefs. A staunch feminist, she never agreed with pageants in their prior and some may call antiquated form and so I was never exposed to them - and I respect her so much for that. Without her, I would not be the strong and independent woman I am today, so I don’t mind that she has only recently come to accept modern pageantry and kept me away from something she felt wouldn’t encourage me to love myself for my intelligence and character as opposed to my bikini body.
Social media seem to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not?
I never feel intimidated by the social media element of modern competitions because social media is my job (and very often my life!)
But doing the job that I do, paired with the experiences I’ve had working as a model, I’ve learnt to detach my self worth from my success on social media. It’s not good for anyone to define their worth by how many likes they get - and at the end of the day, I don’t believe social media success wins the crown, the girl does.
Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?
I competed at the Miss England final last year, and I never admitted it but I was gutted to come just out of the top 20, taking home 21st place. It took me two years and four local heats to get to the final, so I have faced plenty of losses in my pageant journey and had times when I’ve doubted I’m right for the job of being Miss England.
After Miss England 2017 I decided I wanted to take a break to focus on my career, one that I thought might even be permanent. Until someone close to me asked “when have you ever given up on any other goal you’ve set yourself?”
And to be honest, she was right. I have never been the kind of person who falls at the first hurdle - in my career, personal life, or work as a mental health campaigner. So this year I’m back with a vengeance and feel confident I can show the judges this year who I really am.
We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?
When I look at previous Miss Englands, I see that each of them was inspiring to a generation of women for different reasons. Carina Tyrell was this beautiful, intelligent doctor. Katrina was a serving soldier who had be deployed to Iraq, but then also had a national lingerie advertising deal.
Kirsty Hesslewood had fought to become this incredibly confident woman and successful model despite struggling with being mute as a child.
If I were lucky enough to have a chance to inspire the younger generation as Miss England, I hope to be the one that inspires girls across the country to grab their future by the horns and be a ‘boss lady’ as instagram likes to call it. It is our duty to empower and educate these future female CEOs and industry leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs so that they can fulfil their potential. I want to be someone who can prove to them that it is possible to step outside of the norm and still be successful, and that life really is what you make of it.
What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?
My advice to a young girl who aspires to be a beauty queen would be to reach for the stars. Often, the main limits we face in life are the ones we impose on ourselves because of crippling self doubt. They should set their sights high in the other aspects of their life, and eventually their passion and dedication will be recognised by pageants like Miss World.
Thanks to the beautiful Sarah for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss England pageant.