Three years since Miss Universe 2014, Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez and Miss Australia 2014 Tegan Martin have remained the closest of friends.
The two former Miss Universe candidates were proud to say, “We’re a close batch!
“We have a Whats App group and we all leave messages on the group all the time. We’re best friends.
“There’s pregnancy announcements in the group, there’s marriage announcements—happy birthdays, and we just always talk and say if Miss Universe is coming up.
“We’ve really enjoyed the friendships that we’ve made.”
Nia and Tegan had a reunion of sorts here in the Philippines, where they spent a weekend in El Nido, Palawan.
They also spent a day with their fans in Manila, and met up with Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa.
“I love MJ. She’s one of my favorite girls. She’s amazing,” Tegan told a small group of reporters last October 10, in Bonifacio Global City, where they graced the meet-and-greet event organized by PLDT and Smart.
The two beauty queens plan to go back to the Philippines to explore more of our islands. As Nia put it, “Cebu, Boracay, Siargao… There are so many places, so we have to go back!”
UNIVERSAL CONFIDENCE. In December 2015, Nia and Tegan teamed up to create the community Universal Confidence, which was designed to empower young women.
Nia said, “We both now train girls at Universal Confidence, so it’s great that we both coach together.
“We both have different techniques.”
As former Miss Universe candidates, both ladies know the benefit of having self-esteem.
Did you know that Nia competed in several state pageants before winning the Miss Nevada title in 2014?
“I think when I became my best was when I was 100 percent me, and I wasn’t trying to be what I thought the judges wanted.
“Because I did that so many years.
“The judges want a blonde, so I dyed my hair blond. You know?
“When I was my real, true self, that was when I won.”
Nia finished as first runner-up in the 2014 Miss Universe pageant, where Miss Colombia Paulina Vega emerged the winner.
For her part, Tegan competed twice in Miss Universe Australia.
She related, “I had the exact same experience [as Nia]. I competed twice, and on my third attempt, I won when I wasn’t trying too hard to be what I thought they wanted.
“I really just went back for a final attempt, saying, ‘Okay, I tried so hard. I’ve been overthinking everything. I’ve been thinking way too much what other people have been expecting me to be.’
“And at the final time I was competing, I was just Tegan.
“I’m very humorous. I’m not a very serious person. I love humor! I love making jokes! And I went back as that Tegan, and that’s when I won!
“Judges will know if you’re trying to be someone else.”
BE PREPARED. A candidate should be “1,000 percent prepared” when they choose to be part of a competition.
Nia intoned, “Just be 1,000 percent prepared in every little thing. Most important with your mind, with your heart, with yourself.
“You gotta have passion because you’re going to walk a thousand times, practice a thousand interview questions, but still not change who you are.
“So be prepared and be yourself, and you’re good to go!”
But no matter how ready you are in any beauty competition, remember that “it’s not meant for everyone."
Tegan, who only reached the Top 10 in Miss Universe 2014, pointed out, “There’s so many girls who are disappointed by the pageant.
“When they don’t win, they get so down and they don’t ever want to think about the word pageant again.
“But I always think it’s 30 girls' dream—because in Australia, there are around 30 girls in the finals—but one girl’s destiny.
“It was meant to be a part of the path of one girl.
“It’s not meant for everyone, it’s a hard job.
“It’s not something to be taken lightly.
“It’s a very big responsibility, and it will happen to whoever it’s supposed to happen.”
Nia also stressed the importance of timing, “It’ll happen at the right timing.
“I always say, I had second runner-up at my State pageant when I was 19 years old.
“But if I would have won, they would have eaten me alive at Miss USA.
“I wouldn’t have been mentally able to handle it yet.
“So I needed the right timing to wait for that.”
READY TO LOSE. It's said that part of the mental preparation for a beauty competition is considering the possibility of failure.
Nia said, “I heard this from one of my girlfriends, and it’s so true.
“She says, ‘If you’re not ready to lose, you’re not ready to win.’
“So you have to be okay to not win, then, you know what, you are ready to win.”
She says if you don't win, it's not the end of the world.
Tegan continued, “You have to have other goals and dreams behind you as well.
“You can’t think, ‘If I don’t win, my life is over,' you know.
“You have to have other plans, other goals, and think about what you can do if you don’t win.
“There are many ways to be successful in life.”
After Miss Universe, Nia became a lifestyle blogger and a motivational speaker. She got married to her longtime beau Daniel Booko in October 2015.
Tegan became a popular fashion and TV personality in Australia.