Have you ever wondered what it's actually like to be a "Miss Universe Canada" contestant? What kind of people actually qualify as a finalist? Do you have to be a drop-dead gorgeous, 10 foot tall, nothing but legs model to be even considered for the competition?

In this interview, we dive into the world of pageantry to see what the Miss Universe Canada contest is all about. What does it take to really be a finalist? We've interviewed Jacqualine Silk, a Miss Universe Canada finalist for this year's competition.

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Jacqualine is 20-years-old and was born in Toronto. She speaks fluent Russian, French and English. From a young age, she's participated in hands-on charity work. Her experience as a project manager, brand ambassador and social influencer has allowed her to showcase her outgoing, creative and loving personality.

She's currently completing her double major in Global Management and Marketing at Ryerson University. She's also graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music for piano. 

So basically, she's an insanely talented 20-year-old. But is she a model? Has she been in pageantry all her life? Or is this her first time competing on this national stage? 

Find out more in our eye-opening interview down below! 

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1. For someone that doesn't know, what is the Miss Universe Canada competition?

The Miss Universe Canada (MUC) pageant is a national level pageant from which the winner advances to Miss Universe. MUC had approximately 640 applicants this year, from which 65 finalists were chosen through a 3-step interview process that narrows down the applicants to 65 finalists. 

Miss Universe Canada is more than just a beauty pageant, it's a selection of the top females who demonstrate incredible strength, perseverance, confidence, compassion, creativity, and brilliance. Anyone can put on makeup to look pretty, but you can't draw on a personality, that comes from within and from experience.

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2.  How did you become interested in the competition? Did you grow up watching pageants? Is this your first pageant?

What made me interested in the competition is the immense reach and the powerful platform that it provides for all current issues, including charities, fundraisers, political events, networking opportunities and so much more. Teaching you about self-growth and self-acceptance, the pageant helps build friendships for a lifetime with girls that share the same vision for change and improvement in our communities. 

I actually only watched a few Miss Universe pageants and never competed in any myself! Though I never competed, I was previously chosen as a finalist for Miss Teenage Canada when I was younger and stayed in communication with those who were experienced in competing. Now that I am a part of Miss Universe Canada, I have analyzed every pageant video, especially those internationally as they professionally train from a young age!

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3.  Have you competed in pageants before? Describe that experience! If this is your first pageant, describe your experience so far!

This is my first pageant! My experience is incredible, I initially was going to hire a runway coach and someone who went through the competition before, but the Miss Universe Canada organization actually helps the girls with everything! We have biweekly training for public speaking, runway, poise and body image.

Contrary to popular belief, the organizers and judges of the pageant don't require girls to be very thin or to go on crazy diets, their main priority is for the girls to be healthy. All the finalists know what it takes to be competitive and that definitely means working out more, eating healthier and checking in with their physicians. It's important to remember if you are dieting, that it's safe and custom to your body, someone else's diet and workout might not be the right one for you!

We're planning on attending many events this summer which is exciting for strengthening our public speaking and networking skills. Once the final Miss Universe Canada is chosen, she needs to be representing Canada at the highest level of sophistication, beauty, intelligence and philanthropic ambition.

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4. What kind of preparation do you have to do before competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada?

During the competition, we are evaluated based on our health & fitness, interview portion, gowns and most importantly each constant's contribution to our designated charity. This year, we are partnered with SOS Children's Villages, each finalist prepares a creative way to raise funds, awareness and showcase their ability to effectively reach an audience. One of my chosen fundraiser ideas is a Go Fund Me page for the charity. 

For our question portion, the finalists must be prepared to answer questions on any topic whether it's political, current events, or simply a question of opinion. Delivering a concise yet insightful answer in under 30 seconds might sound easy, but it takes a lot of training along with keeping yourself grounded on your views and stance on important issues. 

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5.  If you win, what would the title "Miss Universe Canada" mean to you? How would you use this platform?

I was forced to grow up very quickly, having to take care of my 90-year-old grandmother since the age of 13, I learned many lessons that kids my age haven't gotten around to experiencing yet, or perhaps never will. 

With Miss Universe Canada as such a powerful platform, I know I will have the opportunity to team up with numerous schools, youth shelters and organizations both in Canada and internationally! I think it's incredibly important to be a role model, share my experiences and what motivates me to keep pushing with the generation who is still figuring themselves out, growing up and learning about what life has to offer.

The platform I have even as a finalist has allowed me to have my voice heard, respected and taken seriously. I have personally struggled through several forms of abuse, bullying, mental illness and learning difference and feel strongly about promoting an image of a woman that is greater than physical appearance. 

I am a passionate advocate for homeless youth and troubled children as well as orphans. I know that if I'm chosen as the winner for Miss Universe Canada, it will be my duty to show how important it is to be present and consistent in duties, responsibilities and constantly advocating to help those who aren't aware or strong enough to unleash their potential.

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6.  Do you feel pressure to present yourself at all times when you're competing in this type of competition?

There's definitely a lot of pressure to impress as many judges or attendees as possible but I believe that if you're presenting yourself as your complete honest and true self, it shouldn't feel stressful, pressured or fake. It should just be you! If you're feeling that you constantly need to pretend to be someone you're not, simply to impress a judge, they will see through it and if they can, then so can anyone else.

As a Miss Universe Canada finalist, and as a woman leader, I believe it's important to showcase elegance, sophistication and knowledge of current events as much as possible. You never know who you're going to run into or network with, especially during this competition, finalists are given a platform to represent themselves and Canada; it's always important to present yourself as professional as possible.

Via Jacqualine Silk

7.  Tell us something about the competition or pageantry that people may not know!

Pageants are taken very 
seriously internationally but Canada actually only has provincial and national levels whereas other countries have it by state. We are currently training at a national level and are constantly reminded that some of the girls we will be competing against have been training from an extremely young age. 

Other than biweekly training, the week of the competition we learn 10 choreographies in the span of 3 days, which definitely means our bodies need to be in shape and ready to perform our best. For me personally, the trickiest learning experience has been not looking down at your feet when you walk down the stairs in a gown head to toe, with 6-inch heels!

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8. Let us know how people can vote this summer for Miss Universe Canada!

There is online voting open to anyone, even internationally! The link will be released in July, voters are allowed to vote up to 4 times a day and whoever is top voted automatically qualifies for a spot in the top 20! Make sure to keep checking missuniversecanada.ca to see when the link is uploaded! I would love to have your vote! 

You can follow Jacqualine on Instagram @sassysilky or on Facebook!

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