From ‘World to Universe,’ Michelle Dee treads path taken by queens before her
MANILA, Philippines — Actress Michelle Dee has now won both the Miss World Philippines and Miss Universe Philippines crowns. By no means is it an easy feat, but she is not the first from the country to take the leap from “World” to “Universe.”
Catriona Gray was the first Filipino woman to accomplish this. Before she became Miss Universe in 2018, the Australian-Filipino singer and model first represented the Philippines in the 2016 Miss World pageant in the United States where she finished in the Top 5.
She handily won her national titles in the 2016 Miss World Philippines and 2018 Binibining Pilipinas pageants, also taking home the lion’s share of special awards in both contests. She also went to her international competitions as a frontrunner, getting the attention of international pageant fans right after earning her national crowns.
In Dee’s case, the Miss World Philippines title fell on her lap with a convincing win. But she had to make two attempts before scoring her Miss Universe Philippines victory. She first joined the national competition last year and finished with the Miss Universe Philippines-Tourism crown.
But the two Filipino queens are not the only ones who made the courageous move of crossing major pageant lines. Other Miss Universe winners have also seen action on the Miss World stage before bagging the crown, like Gray.
The most recent of whom is 2020 Miss Universe Andrea Meza from Mexico, who finished second in the 2017 Miss World pageant where she was also proclaimed as Queen of the Americas.
And then there’s Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana’s first representative in the Miss Universe pageant who snuck the international title from Filipino contender Miriam Quiambao in 1999. She was a contestant in the 1997 Miss World pageant, where she did not even place.
The African beauty queen’s case was similar to Dutch beauty Angela Visser’s, who went home empty-handed in the 1988 Miss World pageant held months before she captured the 1989 Miss Universe crown.
Michelle McLean became Namibia’s first, and so far only, Miss Universe winner in 1992. Months before the contest, she competed in the 1991 Miss World pageant where she finished in the Top 5.
But for Dee, winning the Miss Universe crown will not only be a story of a successful pageant crossover. Bringing home the title will also mean that she has continued her family’s legacy of asserting the Philippines’ dominance on the global pageant stage. Her mother is 1979 Miss International Melanie Marquez, while her cousin is 2017 Reina Hispanoamericana Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez.
Dee will represent the Philippines in the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador later this year. There, she will try to become the fifth Filipino woman to bring home the crown, after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), Pia Wurtzbach (2015), and Gray. EDV