Meet The Stunning Women Behind The Latest Cover of StarCentral Australia: Monique, Susana And Brittany

Brittany Dickson

Brittany Dickson is the recently crowned Miss Earth Australia 2020 and she’s currently representing Australia at the Miss Earth 2020 virtual pageant. She stands 175 cm tall and she graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in Wildlife and Conservation with honours. Her goal in life is to work in wildlife conservation among legends like Sir David Attenborough and Jane Goodall.

Brittany is not a stranger to pageantry; in fact, she was part of Miss Earth Australia 2014 and was crowned Miss Earth Australia Air back in 2017. Last year, she was crowned Miss Charity Australia 2019 in the Miss Earth Australia pageant. True to her title, Brittany had volunteered her time for various wildlife groups and animal organisations such as the Animal Welfare League, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Organisation, and Greening Australia.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Brittany to discuss her journey in pageantry and here’s what went down:

Please tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

My name is Brittany Dickson, I’m 25 years old and I’m your Miss Earth Australia 2020. I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, cuddling my pet birds, and getting involved volunteering with the community.

Tell us about your advocacy.

My advocacy is all about wildlife conservation. I am an animal lover and feel so connected to all creatures great and small, so this is what comes naturally to me. Biodiversity loss is amongst the biggest environmental issues we are currently facing – biodiversity provides ecological life support, impacts our global economy, and has immeasurable cultural significance across the world. The amazing thing about working towards addressing biodiversity loss is that by doing so – we also contribute to reducing the impacts of other major environmental issues like climate change, ocean pollution, and waste management.

Why did you decide to join Miss Earth Australia?

I wanted an opportunity to reach a larger audience with the messages I was already living by. I saw it as a chance to grow, learn, and to leave my mark on the world. I joined Miss Earth because I know that there is so much more that can be done to benefit our Mother Earth. I was looking for the chance to lead by example, educate, inspire, and bring excitement back into conserving the beauty of our planet.

Can you give a summary of your reign last year?

Over the last year, I had the pleasure of being a part of clean up events, tree plantings, fundraising opportunities, and community events such as our recent COVID-19 food drives and the international women’s day forum. I had an amazing time connecting with my sister queens across these various events and have made what I hope to be lifelong friendships where we can continue to work together to contribute to that positive change we want to see on the environment.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I’m looking forward to this year’s international competition! It may be virtual but it’s still such an amazing opportunity to project my message around the world for people to connect and resonate with. It’ll also be a unique chance to showcase our country that we don’t usually get to do apart from through the national costume. After the competition – I’d really love to visit the Great Barrier Reef to volunteer on reef restoration works and continue to get involved in plenty of other environmental initiatives around the country.

Any other information you want to add about yourself?

I’m absolutely honoured to be representing the land down under, my home – Australia. I hope I can make each and every one of you proud. Win or lose, I will forever be an eco angel and wildlife warrior working towards creating an earth that can be enjoyed for the many generations to come. I’ve proven my dedication and resilience and hope to have your support over this next whirlwind of a year ahead! Much love and thank you so much.

Susana Downes

Susana Downes has always been a big fan of pageants but she didn’t really get into them until back in 2015. After watching the Miss Philippines-Australia 2013 pageant, she thought she could do a pretty good job joining it, but she wanted to wait until she finished her Bachelor’s Degree (which she eventually completed in 2014). She entered her first pageant, Miss Philippines-Australia in 2015 and ended up winning Miss Popularity and the Miss Charity Queen Australia title.

A driving force is what accentuates your resilience to remain committed through the hurdles of any given profession. Beauty pageantry is one highly competitive industry, hence it is not lacking in such hurdles. Susana’s love for pageantry is her reason for her sticking to it through thick and thin. It’s the opportunity to go on stage and express herself – passion and advocacy is her biggest take-home dividend.

Susana has admitted that she actually comes to understand herself through her struggles in pageantry. Her forte is her ability to get out of her comfort zone to develop herself, concerning the problem at hand. She keeps herself grounded by sticking to an amazing workout routine, eating clean and healthy food, and surrounding herself with supportive people that encourage her every day, like her parents, her partner, and friends.

Luckily, the Downes family has been nothing short of supportive for their daughter. Always providing her with the moral, physical, and financial support she needed especially during her early competitions.

Traveling the world as an international beauty queen has given Susana the opportunity to network with diverse people. This gives her the platform to meet new and amazing connections both locally and internationally. She has been able to form long term friendships out of these acquaintances which she is thankful for.

Susana Downes is definitely fast becoming a household name in the pageantry industry. This is due to the impact she has had on the global stage and her advocacy. We can’t wait to see how Susana is going to use her platform to further promote her advocacy.

Monique Charlotte Shippen

Monique Charlotte Shippen is an Australian model, singer, songwriter, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Earth Australia 2018 and represented Australia at the Miss Earth 2018 pageant. She also was crowned Miss International Australia 2019 and represented Australia at Miss International 2019.

Shippen was born and raised in Sydney, New South Wales and she started drama and dance lessons from the age of 4, keyboard at 8, private singing at 9 and self-taught guitar at 13. She sang in the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir throughout high school, as well as the Monte Singers and College Choir at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College.

At the age of 15, Shippen did a songwriting course with Erana Clark (former Australian Idol & XFactor vocal coach), where she co-wrote her first EP ‘Not Guilty’. She returned to record a 10 track album ‘Headache’, at the age of 18, with music and lyrics written herself. Her debut single ‘Electrifying’ was released on iTunes and an official music video was released on YouTube. The debut single made the semi-finalist list of Unsigned Only (2015, 2016) and the International Songwriting Competition (2016). She also toured in a Spice Girls Tribute Band called ‘Viva Spice Girls’ in 2014, where she played the role of Posh Spice.

Shippen obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Contemporary Music) from Macquarie University, a Certificate III in Early Childhood & Care, and a Masters of Teaching (Secondary) Music at the University of New South Wales. She is also a children’s party entertainer and dresses up as princesses, superheroes, and celebrities. StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Monique to discuss her journey in pageantry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I’m a singer, songwriter, teacher, and children’s party entertainer.

How were you actually ‘discovered’?

As a singer, I entered eisteddfods every year from the age of 10-16. I also auditioned for a songwriting course with the former vocal coach of X-Factor and Australian Idol when I was 15 and got selected, which eventually lead me into recording my own album. As a pageant queen, I did my first community pageant “Miss Wow Blacktown” when I was 18 and won the title.

What are your favourite downtime activities?

I live near the beach so I love going for walks. I also love discovering new nature walks. I love singing, arts and crafts too!

How did you start with beauty pageants?

I used to watch beauty pageants with my mum on the TV when I was little. When I turned 18, we heard about a community pageant and I decided to join. After such an amazing experience, I wanted to continue and join another one.

What do you like most about pageants?

Growing as a person, especially self-confidence. I used to be shy and seeing these confident women on TV inspired me. One of the best things is meeting amazing girls and working as a team for a cause. It’s not just about beauty, it’s about friendships and collaborating to make a difference in the world.

The downside to being a beauty queen?

There is no downside! There is a big responsibility in being a role model and contributing to society – which can make you quite busy – but I love being busy. Being a public figure could be seen as a downside but I always look at the positives – which would be that it is a wonderful platform and opportunity to promote your causes or send a message to a large audience.

What has been the most memorable experience of your life as a pageant winner so far?

The most memorable would have to be coming to Japan to represent Australia and meeting women from over 80 countries around the world. The friendships are everything and I love hearing about everyone’s causes, cultures, and countries. It opens up your eyes to the world and I love to travel so I’m excited to have friends to visit on my next holiday! Working together is the biggest impact so it’s great we can all be here together in the same place to “cheer all women”.

You’ve been in the beauty pageant industry for a few years now, what has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned. This can be about the industry or about yourself. Or both!

Even though in the end only one person will win the crown, the best thing is just to have fun, do the best you can, build relationships with the community and be passionate about your causes. If you just purely go in there to win, you will regret not making amazing memories with your pageant sisters.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

I have stayed grounded because I know if you feel confident and happy within yourself, your smile will radiate beauty and rub off onto others.

Is your family supportive of your career?

Extremely. They have always been supportive of my career as a musician, teacher, and pageant titleholder. They just want me to be happy with what I do in life, they are always there at my performances and give me support when things get really busy! It does get quite busy when I’m juggling three different jobs.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are to continue my advocacy as the reigning Miss International Australia – promote Ovarian Cancer awareness and Kindness In Action World Challenge. I am passionate about education and want to continue teaching children. If I had the opportunity to teach in other countries around the world, I would love to consider that. I also want to continue singing and writing songs – release some music very soon.

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