Miss Universe

Paulina Vega: "I’m a worldwide ambassador for my country"

Paulina Vega a day after her crowning spoke to the "Feliz Regreso" show of W Radio in Colombia, giving her first impressions as Miss Universe 2014. New life, new expectations, her controversial final question, the rumors circulating through out the entire competition and her country, Colombia, were the main topics of the interview. Translation thanks to Sonia Lim.

Paulina Vega's new life

How are these first hours of being Miss Universe? Because one thing is entering as Miss Colombia, with everything that represents, of pride, but to come out of the competition as Miss Universe, how does life change?

"No, Totally. I’m here with my new chaperone in the hotel. I have not been able to go to New York. This has been different, because normally, the next day one travels to her new apartment, but since the weather is very tough, we have not been able to travel. All flights have been cancelled, so we are waiting, because from the moment I reach New York, I’ll have my first interviews, for example, in Today Show, but well, we’ve not been able to check over it yet, but everything has been very cool because I have been able to be with my family, here in Miami".

Paulina, something that caught my attention was, when we watched you in television, your tranquility! I mean, you were very calm when they told you “Miss Universe is Miss Colombia!”

"Yes! The truth is that a lot of people have commented about that and they have told me that my reaction was very different compared to other Miss Universes, and I think that I already felt like the winner at that point. No matter what happened, I was already satisfied with the results and I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt relief more than emotion. It was like “Oh, God! Finally! The moment that I had been waiting for so long and imagined so much during the whole year has come!”

Speaking about that, since we had been accustomed to see very beautiful women that should have been Miss Universe but who ended up as runner-ups, when you were there with Miss United States, did you think “Will I have to be in second place again?” or did you already feel like the winner since that instant?

"No, never. I said they will call me because they will call me because they will. Words are very strong and the power of the mind is great and should not be used. Even if I was not chosen, I would have been very calm, as I told you, and happy with the results because I was very positive and awaiting for the results".

Paulina Vega during the evening gown competition at the Miss Universe 2014 final.
Paulina Vega during the evening gown competition at the Miss Universe 2014 final.

Is there a moment which all the candidates find difficult? With the questions? In any competition? Because generally, two things happen: Or there are some judges who feel original, asking very intricate questions, or the other thing is that people hope that the candidates give a wrong answer. In many cases, it’s a lot more with the mistakes than the correct answer. The questions, how did you live that moment?

"Well, besides that in my case, it was very particular, because it’s the first version of Miss Universe in which they ask two questions. Normally, it’s always one, and my turn was just when they felt like asking two questions. In that moment, I was very nervous, of course I was. I would have liked it a lot more if I had gotten the questions of the other judges because mine felt a little difficult, and the truth is that, in that moment, it didn’t occur to me what to say, ‘something that women want that men have’. Afterwards, it occurred to me, but in the moment I saw the question I thought it was a difficult one, in that moment I could feel it, and I thought “Oh, God! I really cannot think about something that I’ve said I want that men already have.” It didn’t occur to me but well, I said what I thought in that moment. The second one, thank God, they asked me something about my country. I always like to talk about my country and with that, I can really excel, saying and telling, full of pride, and well, the most important thing is that I didn’t say anything absurd".

And I think that happens to everyone, many times we have the best answer after the question has already been asked a long time ago, and think “I should have answer that”...

"Of course. The problem is to control the nervousness, and when I was in the second question I was a lot less nervous than I was in the first one, and that’s why I did better. I was more tranquil, more relaxed and calm, and was able to channel my nervousness better and that’s why I could answer better, which is the most difficult thing to do".

If they ask you once again, “What can women learn from men?” What would be your answer?

"Well, I already thought about this, they gave me a question, I returned to my place and I thought “Paulina, think seriously”. I mean, when I had calmed down, I thought, what I would have said is, that what we could learn from men is that they do not go around competing in real life, unlike us, women, who go around competing constantly with no reason whatsoever instead of forming a team and feeling more united. We dress up so that other women in parties can look at us. We are always competing in real life. It’s always ‘I’m better than the others’ instead of simply improving all together. That’s what I would have said. But I also liked my answer a lot. It’s something that I had already talked about before. Men think about equality, and women should believe in what they had been fighting for since so many years ago. Maybe I was not able to elaborate the answer in that moment because I was so nervous. I was like “Better not say anything. Wait, and in the second one, I’ll really outdo myself.”"

And for example, we, journalists are full of great questions that we think of when the interview has already finished. That also happens to us. And, speaking of the competition, how is that internal world of Miss Universe? Is it overwhelming? Are there many fears? Are there schemes? How is life in a Miss Universe?

"Well, when the top 15 are chosen, we are immediately separated from the other candidates, and we are all very busy, changing into a swimsuit, changing into a dress. During the competition, the same groups are always formed, Latinas with Latinas, Europeans with Europeans, Asians, etc. With all the companions I was able to acquaint myself with, we supported each other, helped each other, asked things to each other. I think that you search for someone which you ‘click’ with, someone whom you feel a good energy to have a better time. Obviously, there were also some candidates who preferred to be alone, and that were not there to make friends. For me, the truth is that I’m a very relaxed person, and I’m very interested in knowing different cultures, different thoughts, different types of behavior, and I was able to achieve that. Nowadays, I have many homes to stay in around the world. I enjoyed it, made friends, and well, I think that that was also one of the most important things of this competition".

Paulina Vega during the swimsuit competition of the Miss Universe 2014.

I’m asking this because you went as one of the favorites, without doubt, since the beginning. It was very clear, that you would be amongst the top 5, but I heard in an interview, that caught my attention, in which you mentioned that people said that Miss Colombia had problems with Miss Puerto Rico, or something like that, and I thought that it’s noticeable that those are the types of schemes people make in this type of competitions to try to damage the reputation of a candidate that has possibilities.

"Totally. Well, look, all of this started with a hairdresser that works in Miss Universe. The first day I got there, he threw himself, and told me how happy he was, well, he put make up on me, all happy. He told me I was going to win, that I was his favorite, perfect. The next day, there were more Colombian and Latino hairdressers who wanted to help me get ready, and they looked for me, and I said of course, you can help me. Then, this first man, who has also come out in all newspapers, got mad. You know how in this reigns there are a lot of people who get passionate and obviously take everything very personally, and started talking bad about me, and that’s when everything started. Then, the Venezuelans, who obviously support their Venezuelan candidate, started writing things in Instagram, in social networks and in all types of media. They started supporting this gossip, but everyone who supported this gossip, which is not true, lost a lot of credibility, because they asked every candidate, they asked the Miss Universe organization, they asked my roommate, and everything they had said was a lie. I never had any problems with any other candidate, and never had problems with my roommate. Then, the only ones who received damage at the end were the media, who lost their credibility, and the only thing they did was to give me more fame during my reign".

Paulina Vega about Barranquilla

Besides a bitter Barranquilla women… Like… I don’t know about that.

"Yes, I thought, I’m Colombian and besides that fact, I’m from Barranquilla. That’s the funniest thing ever. A Barranquilla woman equals bitter…? That does not go well together".

Precisely that about Barranquilla. Shakira, Sofia and now, Paulina, what is the magic of the moon in Barranquilla?

"No, I don’t have any idea of what happens in Barranquilla, but well, I’m very lucky, and I also think it’s because of our personality and well, the truth is that I have not yet come out from the happiness. I’m still in that moment. Currently, I have the sash in front of me of Miss Universe and I cannot believe it. Until I reach my apartment in New York and sign the contract, I will not believe it. All of this, and I don’t even want to know what happened in Colombia. I was sent videos, and even in Bogota, a place where people are not very into the reigns due to their culture. There was traffic, everyone was in the streets, they took out the flag, shouted".

Miss Universe 2014, Paulina Vega, at an event of the Miss Universe 2014.

Complete happiness. Besides, I was able to write a tweet in which it said, “The Crown of Miss Universe will not solve any problem in Colombia, and that is not the responsibility of a Miss Universe, but it does not make any damage! And, on the contrary, it produces a moment of joy, of happiness”.

"Totally. I think that a Miss Universe cannot change the situation radically or can achieve it by itself as a very important objective in Colombia, but we can help, because in this moment, I’m a worldwide ambassador for my country. Every time that I’m asked to talk about by country or about myself, I’m clearly talking about positive things that I really feel in my heart. I mean, I’m putting my grain of sand. I will not make a radical change, but I am putting my grain of sand, and believe me, it works and I’m helping. I’m putting my 100% to change the image the world has about Colombia and I think that is the most important thing, and the first point to achieve any other thing".

That’s true, and Paulina, I want to ask you something because lately, a controversy was presented in Colombia. You had this goal, you entered Miss Colombia, with all of your will and desire, you won, and you persevered to become Miss Universe. And in this moment, I don’t know if you got to know about the controversy that was presented with the competition of Miss Tanguita. What opinion do you have about this type of events for girls so small?

"Yes, I was informed of it and I already gave my answer. Personally, I think that in that stage of life, the girls should be dedicating themselves to other things and the parents should be teaching them other type of things or put them in other type of situations. I, personally, do not support this, and obviously, at the end, the parents are the ones who have the last decision, but for me, when I have my daughters, I will not put them in that type of event, and with that I’m saying everything".

You say you are already looking at your future. Your future is now a very rough year, of travelling and compromises. You will go to New York and have special trainings. How do you imagine yourself from here to the next year?

"For me, the most important thing was not only winning the crown but also to be an excellent Miss Universe throughout the year. That’s why I’ll be compromised to my role. And as I mentioned earlier, I’ll be an excellent ambassador for my country, because I think that we are in a critical point and we need it. At the end, when the year is over, I think that depending on my performance and what I achieve during the whole year, I will come across different opportunities. But let’s see, let’s see if I continue with my career, studying business administration. I am also very excited because I don’t know exactly how I’ll be doing in a year. Maybe I’ll return to do business administration in Bogota, maybe I’ll go to another country or maybe I will be offered a tremendous opportunity from somewhere".

First day of Paulina as Miss Universe 2014.
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