THIS THURSDAY, DUBAI’S large English population will toast their country’s patron saint at The Westin hotel.
The St. George’s Day Long Lunch will welcome special sporting guests John Barnes, a former Liverpool FC and England midfielder (and part-time rapper), plus England rugby world cup winner Steve Thompson.
Adding a healthy dose of glamour to proceedings will be the current Miss England, Alize Mounter. The 22-year-old raised eyebrows last summer when she took the title, due to the fact that she isn’t actually English but a native of Wales.
Nonetheless, the former Britain’s Next Top Model contestant went on to compete in November’s Miss World pageant in London, where she finished in fourth place overall.
Currently taking a year out from her degree in journalism, Alize has focused her charity efforts on breast cancer research before she hands over her crown in June.
At this weekend’s lunch, the beauty queen and her sporting co-hosts will field a Q&A from Dubai presenter Tom Urquhart, and meet revellers paying tribute to Queen and country.
City Times phoned Alize for a chat.
You’ve judged several regional beauty pageants of late around England. How does it feel being the other side of the judge’s chair?
It’s great, but it’s awful as well, because I get too emotionally attached to the girls. I think it’s because I’ve been there before, so I understand it can be quite nerve-racking, but it’s wonderful to see the girls having a good time.
What do you look for in a winning contestant?
I chat with them before, and I think it’s just someone who’s likeable, easy to talk to and has lots going for themselves. And onstage someone who is really interested, confident and having a good time.
What are your plans after you’ve completed your reign as Miss England?
To go on holiday! No, I’m going back to university in September to finish my course in journalism. I’m looking forward to that, and over the summer I’m going to start blogging more, send my presenting showreel off and see if I can get work experience at some fashion magazines.
So you’d ultimately like to work as a fashion journalist?
Definitely. I like writing feature pieces geared towards fashion, beauty and travel, and from being Miss England I’ve discovered that I quite like presenting as well. It has definitely boosted my speaking skills, I’ve gained the confidence and it comes a lot more naturally to me now.
Is there anyone in your possible future careers that you see as a role model?
Lots – presenting-wise I’d say Holly Willoughby (Dancing on Ice, The Voice UK). You can’t help but like her and she’s very down-to-earth. Journalism-wise, I read Cosmopolitan a lot and I admire the editor of the British edition, Alexandra Shulman.
Would you like to follow the popular Bollywood route from beauty queen to actress?
My journalism course is paired with drama, and I hope to join a drama school and get an acting showreel together. I did always want to be an actress, but it’s ever so difficult. Maybe I could end up being a Bond girl!
The Daily Mail newspaper ran an article announcing your Miss England victory, but placed a question mark over it by insisting you were “as Welsh as daffodils and leeks”. Have you faced much criticism or dissent over your non-English heritage?
Obviously people must have criticised it. Amy Childs (from reality show The Only Way is Essex) criticised it on TV, my friend told me. I just thought it was quite flattering that she was talking about it. At first, I was in so much shock from the media attention because I didn’t expect to win, I found it quite difficult. But now I’ve got used to the concept and I think it’s added an interesting element more than anything. It’s actually made me learn a lot more about England too, and a lot of my friends call me ‘Wenglish’! And I love London to pieces, which is why I went for Miss England, because I live there.
How did you end up entering the Miss England pageant?
It was on a whim. Last June, my friend said I should try for Miss England. I’d done two pageants before and placed, and I wanted a break to concentrate on my studies. But I had the summer off and had time to kill, and I don’t like not doing anything so I looked over the entry form. I was happy whatever the outcome, because either I wouldn’t win and I could get on with my studies and modelling, which I love, or win and it would change my life, which it has.
How different was the competition to your time in Britain’s Next Top Model in 2010?
Completely different. I really didn’t like Britain’s Next Top Model. I’d never worried about my weight until I went there and was faced with girls who were very tiny. That was a bit uncomfortable, but being in a beauty pageant the girls are all very healthy looking. I don’t like not being myself or people acting up to cameras, and I’ve learnt I don’t like people controlling me as well. I’m very much my own person.
What did you take away from competing in Miss World?
I remember seeing my friends and family for the first time in four weeks at the coronation night, everyone was celebrating and it was like a dream come true. It was a very intense four weeks, you don’t get a day off, but you bond so quickly with the girls it’s unbelievable. I’ve made friends for life from across the world.
· What: The St. George’s Day Long Lunch
· Where: The Westin Dubai
· When: Thursday, April 19
· Cost: Dhs5,500 per table
· Tickets and more info: Visit www.urbanevents.ae or call 04 445 6842
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