Cara Hunter Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland 2018
I intend to use my platform to promote the destigmatization of mental health in my community and aid in suicide prevention. I was born in a region of Northern Ireland where due to being a post-conflict society, we have some of the highest anti-depressant usage in Europe. I want to use my platform to help those with PTSD from ‘The Troubles’ and those suffering from anxiety and depression in their youth. This involves actively attending and contributing in community outreach meetings, visiting schools to hold public speeches discussing mental health, mental illness and healthy coping mechanisms.”
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen, Cara Hunter, Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland 2018.
Full name: Cara Hunter
Title/Year: Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland 2017/18
Pageant System: Miss Intercontinental
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Hobbies: Filmmaking, blogging, fashion, photography, reading, volunteering, working out and advocating for mental health.
Platform: Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention
Years competed: 1
Countries visited: America, England, Ireland, Mallorca, and France.
Likes: Coffee, chocolate, the rain, and a warm fire.
Dislikes: Celery, social injustice, and delayed flights.
World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Cara, I was born and raised in Northern Ireland until I was 16, then my family moved to the United States where I completed my secondary education. Having hated every moment of secondary school in Ireland, I loved the Californian High School experience. It enabled me to become more confident and really engage with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Not to mention how amazing the food was! I was based just outside Los Angeles, so I learned so much from my time living in the U.S. After high school I completed my degree in Broadcast Journalism with Public Relations. I graduated in July of this year with my degree and recently completed my work experience with BBC Breakfast in Manchester, England. One of my jobs at the moment is being the Official Media Correspondent for ‘The Zachary Geddis, Break The Silence Trust’. This Trust devotes itself to suicide prevention in N. Ireland and opens the dialogue on mental health issues in local communities. Working with these selfless charities and trusts and seeing the work they do continues to blow me away, I am so grateful to be raised in a nation that cares about its most vulnerable.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your pageant history.
My first pageant was Miss Derry in April 2016. I got to the top 15 and learnt so much from the lovely girls I entered with. Most of us were complete beginners and created incredible friendships from the get go.
World Class Beauty Queens: What inspired you to do your first pageant?
My late friend Zachary had said I should apply and said it would be great to challenge myself and try something new. Without his encouragement I would never have thought the pageant world was for me! Haha.
World Class Beauty Queens: Why did you choose to compete for your current title?
The beautiful thing about the Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland Pageant was that it was partnered with a Mental Health Charity based in Derry called ‘Me4Mental’. Having experienced a close loss very recently due to death by suicide, I thought what a beautiful way to memorialize my loved one and raise money for an exceptionally worthy and necessary cause.
World Class Beauty Queens: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about?
Pageantry has an unfair reputation. It is often conceived as a platform that focuses on the fake, the ingenuine, or the egotistical aspects of people, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! To put it in my words, pageantry is the opportunity to compete alongside modest, humble, intelligent and inspiring young women who are keen to change the world, allow people to see life through their lens, and help the most helpless. They do all this while doing their best to end poverty and raise awareness around different social issues and injustices. Pageantry grants young women the opportunity to gain confidence, discuss your achievements and promotes the idea of caring and bettering the society around you. The pretty dresses and glamour are not what it’s all about, it is more about the inner beauty and passion of young women wanting to helping others.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are you being judged on during the competition?
I think you’re being judged on your ability to carry yourself with great esteem, excellent communication skills and just being yourself.
World Class Beauty Queens: How was your experience during the competition.
I loved every minute, hosting events and attending events, it was just wonderful. The amount of intellectual, beautiful friends I made from the competition was just incredible. We also had a ‘Beauty Bootcamp’ which kicked me into shape, literally! We had an incredible organizer called Ashleigh, and she poured so much effort into it, everything went so well.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your platform or what cause do you volunteer for.
I intend to use my platform to promote the destigmatization of mental health in my community and aid in suicide prevention. I was born in a region of Northern Ireland where due to being a post-conflict society, we have some of the highest anti-depressant usage in Europe. I want to use my platform to help those with PTSD from ‘The Troubles’ and those suffering from anxiety and depression in their youth. This involves actively attending and contributing in community outreach meetings, visiting schools to hold public speeches discussing mental health, mental illness and healthy coping mechanisms.
World Class Beauty Queens: What appearances have you done with your title?
In the month since winning my title I have attended one fundraiser with two more in the next few days. It was a memorial karate class for my friend Zachary, a victim of suicide. This next two events are ‘coffee day’ fundraisers in his honour. Following this, I intend this month to work alongside Nexus NI, to promote their charity and help get actively involved by taking training courses. Nexus NI is a sexual assault and abuse counselling charity based all around Northern Ireland and I cannot wait to get working with them!
World Class Beauty Queens: What are some of your achievements?
At the age of 16 I had a two-page column about life in America as an Irish girl and the cultural differences I experienced. Whilst studying in America, I was within the top 5% for best grades out of 40,000 students and was a member of ‘The National Society of Collegiate Scholars’. Probably my funniest achievement was having been fortunate enough to live in a place where nobody knew me, I entered a Jazz and Blues singing competition and won tickets for my family to have a day at a rollercoaster park! In May I made a documentary regarding the rate of male suicides in my area and it won a Linda La Plante Prize for Best Student Documentary, and is now nominated for the British Journalism Training Council Award.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is your onstage strategy to win the judges over?
I think my main tactic was to just be myself. I knew that if I tried to be anything other than Cara, it just wouldn’t work. It would feel forced and inauthentic. I just put on a big smile and said to myself, “Give it a go! I’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain!”
World Class Beauty Queens: What makes you stand out from all those other beautiful girls?
Ah, that’s a very hard question to answer! All were undoubtedly beautiful in their own unique way. I think maybe just my ability to empathize and listen to others stood out. I absolutely adore people and hearing their life stories. I have a big heart, and it’s what made me want to become an honest journalist. I guess maybe the judges seen that.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did it feel to hear your name as the winner?
Complete and utter disbelief. I know everyone says, “I had no idea!” But I GENUINELY HAD NO NOTION. The other girls were drop dead gorgeous, I’ve never seen myself as an overly pretty girl, so I was a bit like huh? How did I win? But I felt extremely proud too. Because I knew in my heart how passionate I am about needing a platform to help heal my country and its wounds that are years old. I know that I would throw myself ‘knee deep’ into charity work. And, I knew that my friend Zachary was watching over me with glee at winning, just how he always wanted me to.
World Class Beauty Queens: What does it mean to you to be a Beauty Queen?
Being a beauty queen is about trying your best in all that you do. It is about embodying femininity, fighting for what is right and undoubtedly using your platform to help the most vulnerable in society.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did competing in pageants helped your life?
I have always wanted some way to help a lot of different people, organizations and charities as possible at one time. This platform gives me the opportunity to walk into a local primary school or retirement home, read books, meet the children and engage with people in my community that I usually wouldn’t have access to. It’s helped me in my ability to rid my nerves in social situations and talk to people about their life experiences. It made me realise that we are only on this earth for an incredibly small and unknown period of time and that every day is another opportunity to help others as much as possible…even if it means something as small as just smiling at someone in the street!
World Class Beauty Queens: You are an inspiration to all the girls out there. How does it feel?
It feels incredible. I just want to remind young girls that they are incredibly strong even if they don’t know it. The world will tell them they are too fat, too thin, etc. But I want to remind them that forget all that! They are precious and loved, and capable of absolutely anything.
World Class Beauty Queens: What have you learned from practicing your walk.
That I need to stop looking at the ground! And raise my head to the skies, haha!
World Class Beauty Queens: What have you learned from choosing the dress for the competition?
That a short train was a wise choice!
World Class Beauty Queens: What have you learned from the interview portion of the competition?
That maintaining eye contact is key and vital in a solid interview. Just be yourself, and talk to the judges like they’re friends. They want you to do well and succeed, so there is no need to be nervous.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your plans for 2018 as a Queen?
I intend on working with 1 charitable trust and 2 charities. ‘Me4Mental’ is a charity situated in Derry that focuses on peer support groups for mental health and challenging the stigma of discussing mental illnesses in our community. Currently I am the Media Correspondent for the ‘Zachary Geddis, Break The Silence Trust’ that focuses on lobbying for a change in Mental Health policies to ensure no more lives are taken at a fault in our mental health support systems. And lastly, as previously mentioned, working with Nexus NI on getting victims of sexual abuse the support and counselling that they so desperately need.
World Class Beauty Queens: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
I just want to lay the foundation as an active Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland who at the age of 21 helped her country to the best of her ability. I recognize how far my country as come in terms of peace, and I now want to help it heal the wounds from the past so that generations to come will not endure the same level of mental illness and the pain that comes with it.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you to Cara Hunter Miss Intercontinental Northern Ireland 2018 for this amazing interview.
Interview by Owner/Editor in Chief Derek Tokarzewski
Diary of a Beauty Queen by Cara Hunter
Pageantry If someone told me I’d enter and win a pageant and be travelling half way across the world to represent my country, I’d laugh at you. Having grown up a fat child, (no fake humility here, I was a little chubbster) I never thought baring it all in a bikini would be something I’d ever do. Like most people the word pageant had a negative connotation in my mind. I thought, “An overtly Americanized patronizing competition that put complete strangers against one another, I don’t get it?
But then, I entered… And my perceptions completely changed. Like, no going back. The reality Pageantry has an unfair reputation. It is often perceived as a platform that focuses on the fake, the ingenuous, or the egotistical aspects of people – but this couldn’t be further from the truth! To put it in my simply (without sounding like a complete cheeseball!) pageantry is the opportunity to compete alongside modest, humble, intelligent and inspiring young women who are keen to change the world, allow people to see life through their lens, and help the most helpless. They do all this while doing their best to end poverty and raise awareness around different social issues and injustices. Pageantry grants young women the opportunity to gain confidence, discuss their achievements and promotes the idea of caring for and bettering the society around you. The pretty dresses and glamour are not what it’s all about, it is more about the ‘inner beauty’ and passion of young women wanting to helping others. Notably, the Miss Intercontinental NI/Ireland pageant I entered was heavily linked with mental health charities. Most of the young ladies who have entered struggled with mental illness at some point, and wanted to use the platform to discuss their story of overcoming anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts all in the interest of helping others and reduce stigma. I have never seen such bravery. The feminist issue Many argue that pageants are tokenism from yesteryear. A thing of the past when it was a man’s world and men like Hugh Hefner were worshiped instead of scorned. “How can you and enter pageants and call yourself a feminist?” The answer is relatively simple. The foundation of feminism is that it’s a woman’s right to choose what is best for herself. For me, I knew entering the pageant would help indefinitely with my grief over the passing of my friend as it would be an opportunity to prevent others dying by suicide. Not wanting to be pitied or admired, I left any discussion of my passion of suicide prevention until the interview. Unfortunately, another untrue pageant myth is that pageant girls are dumb, uneducated or lack any form of intellect. This is not the case. In fact, many speak multiple languages, have multiple degrees and are exceptionally well traveled. In the world of pageantry, one important and vital aspect that no-one see’s is the interview. You go in to a room, sit down and opposite you are about 3-4 judges. You are asked to talk a little bit about yourself, your achievements, etc and then they will pick your brains about why you want to win. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Haha, remember you’re one person in a sea of beautiful girls who have probably done it a hundred times before. Bonding I remember people in school crying when their exchange student left to return home, and I could never comprehend that height of emotion. You didn’t know them a week ago?? But, thanks to pageants, I now get it. Having not enjoyed the secondary school experience, I never really felt close to many girls growing up. Pageantry changed that for me. It was a community. We helped each other into dresses, dried each other’s tears, congratulated each other on wins, it was amazing. You bond with people so quickly when you spend most of your days with them. Especially when it’s something to do with charity work and you hear your fellow competitor’s stories and reasons for entering. Pageants help me see the best in my fellow contestants and in people in general. My advice is, if you’re thinking of entering a pageant – DO IT
I’m only 5’5 and have never walked a catwalk in my life, and if I can do it without falling over and traumatizing myself, so can you. I could N-E- V-E- R have been able to afford to travel to South East Asia, have access to so many lovely charities or get so actively involved with young people on opening the dialogue on mental illness. I’ve only been crowned about six weeks, and so far, it has been such an eye-opening experience that I want other girls to have too. So, enter, enter, enter. And don’t look back.