Monday, August 7, 2017

Judging Miss and Mr Brazil CNB: Off to Make Dreams Come True

Dashing Pair: Beautiful Beatrice Fontoura placed in the top 10 of Miss World 2016 and Carlos Franco will
represent Brazil at the next Mister World Competition, which is expected to be held next year

Just after 3pm, a van arrived to pick us (and a load of luggage that will put any Miss Venezuela to shame) up and we embarked on a 3 hour journey to the Hotel dos Bosque in Angra dos Reis. The trip to Angra didn't seem too long at all. Henrique's true friends know that despite being all the things that I already mentioned, he also has an incredible sense of humor. Leo is on par with that and it made the trip highly entertaining. I still found him unusually calm for just two and a half days before the start of what must surely be an incredibly amazing but stressful time. The trip was filled with laughter and stories.

In between all of that, I peppered Henrique with questions about the history of Miss World Brazil, Miss World and also about this year's group. He patiently answered all my questions, speaking very candidly about highs and lows, never boasting, never sounding bitter. All I got from this conversation was a greater admiration and respect for what he does in Brazil and his dedication to it.
ONE AND ONLY: Lucia Petterle won Miss World 1971
and 46 years later Brazil is still waiting for another crown

Here are a few tidbits from our conversation:

* I learned more about how hard it is to put on an event of this magnitude. Pageants are not as popular in Brazil (a trend in most once-pageant-crazy countries, I guess) and it requires blood, sweet and perhaps a bucketful of tears to make sure a credible national pageant takes place. It's not financially rewarding, like a get rick quick scheme, but his biggest rewards come from the respect and credibility his pageants have and the fact that it is growing little by little.

* This year, one of his biggest challenges was a change in venue which also resulted in a date change. He described it as "tough" and "stressful" but "a blessing in disguise".

* Henrique Fontes is and always have been a Miss World fan (that's how our friendship started). He is incredibly loyal to the organization and he is palpably passionate about the brand and the work the organization is doing. He is also extremely proud of the nearly 300 projects happening in Brazil that are contributing to the work of Beauty With A Purpose worldwide.
HIGH HOPES: Fans and followers of Miss World 2013 expected Sancler Franz to
place at least in the top 3. She just fell short of stepping into the winners' circle, finishing
in the top 5 and taking home the Miss World Americas title 

* Like any other director, he is craving for a win or a top 3 placement. At times, I could sense the tiniest bit of frustration because it has not happened after ten years, but there was never any bitterness. He is the prefect diplomat and spoke openly about his past delegates' strengths and what they (as an organization) could have done better. He remains cautiously optimistic that they will get their Miss World crown or the top 3 placement they so desperately want soon and he is more determined than ever to give his delegate everything he can to help her do well at Miss World.

* The man knows EVERYTHING about the history of Miss Brazil and he did mention that he is writing a book about it. I was astonished that he could just relay fact after fact about Brazil at Miss World and delegates from the past, long before he even started with Miss World. It would be a  casual "oh this state has won 3 times", "this one came close in 19?? and 19?? but they have never won, this state used to compete and be the powerhouse. As you can see, I can't even remember the details of it all because my mouth was hanging open most of the time. It's LOVE, DEDICATION and PASSION at it's very best! (I can talk along confidently about Miss World though... but mostly after the 80s!)

* I tried to discreetly fish for information to see how he would react. Directors must have their favourites. What I learned from that was that he really knows something about every delegate being represented this year... there are 84 (girls and guys)!!!! I just blurted out random states or islands that I know and waited to hear something juicy. But his face would light up with an "Oh, it's NAME NAME, this age" and then he would continue with a positive statement and facts about that contestant. There was never a hint of favouritism in his voice. What I got from all of this was that there's an immense pride when it comes to his delegates and also a kind of fatherly love. He sounded very protective of them and it was nice to see his face light up every time I mentioned a name.

* The cynic in me still believed that he must have a favourite and I just bluntly asked him. There was a brief look of surprise and then he laughed and said that I can ask any judge from any edition. He never interferes. His integrity is too valuable to put on the line and he trusts his judges. Then, in something that really surprised me, he turned and said, " I would like to invite you to watch me tally the results this year, so you can be another witness that it is all 100% up to the judges and that I never make any changes."
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: Henrique Fontes spoke very openly
about the highs and lows of organising a national pageant in a difficult
market. He also remains hopeful of getting that elusive blue crown. 

We stopped for a coffee halfway through the journey and when I turned around, I saw him pacing up and down. When he noticed that my eyes were on him, he smiled and said, "OK, now I am getting nervous." I asked him what it was that made him so nervous. He said, with absolute seriousness and honesty, "We are getting closer to it now. I hope nothing goes wrong. I really want to put on an event that is enjoyable for all the guys and girls, I want it to be memorable. And with the resources I have, I want to put on the best event I possibly can." Then he smiled again and said, "Are you sure I can't get you a coffee? Water?"

As we came closer to Angra dos Reis, I also started feeling nervous. Yes, this was a dream come true, but it is also a HUGE responsibility. I started realising that it's a tough job. Yes, we will make a dream or two come true, but we will also crush a few. The thought of that scared me, but I am more determined now to give 100% to this mission. I am taking it very seriously, because I do want to help the organisation find someone who can give them the placement they have been working so hard for and deserve... all the better if we find the next Miss World!!! 

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