Rern Sinat may have failed to bring home the Miss Universe crown weeks ago, but the 22-year-old model and radio personality received tremendous support and love from people around the world after she got involved in an issue with some of the contestants. Say Tola talks with the beauty queen.
YT: How did it feel to represent Cambodia in the Miss Universe pageant?
Rern: I’ve dreamed to become Miss Universe since I was young. When I was given the chance to fulfill that dream, I felt tremendously happy. It was an honour for me to represent the women of Cambodia in the international stage.
And it was not an easy task to bring the name of Cambodia. I had to undergo several trainings on how to walk, how to wear make-up, how to dress and how to act like a beauty queen. I needed to behave properly because I carried not only myself, but the whole nation.
YT: How do you find the outcome of the pageant?
Rern: My biggest purpose was to spread the name of Cambodia to the global arena as Miss Universe is a global event that attracts millions of viewers. I personally feel it was one of the platforms where I can effectively introduce my country to the world. And I think the world got surprised seeing me as the representative of Cambodia.
YT: Miss Philippines brought home the crown. But if you were to answer the final question – What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life, and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe – how would you answer it?
Rern: Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, deserves the crown. She is rich in knowledge, beauty and friendliness. She was very friendly to me and before we bid goodbye, she gave me a pair of earrings. I also gave her a krama. Our gifts symbolise our friendship. I’ll remember her every time I wear her gift; I hope my gift works the same way.
But if I were to answer her question, I’d say that I am grateful for the life that I have because it pushed me to be strong and independent since I was 13. Being born without any support from my father, life taught me to survive and be capable to support my family. Though I cannot make my family rich, I am still able to make my mother proud and happy for having me. I am grateful for having a strong, inspiring and supportive mother. She is my heroine.
YT: You were involved in a controversy back in Bangkok with other Miss Universe contestants. What happened there?
Rern: It cannot be denied that we don’t really know each other so differences were expected to arise. But ultimately, I treat them as my sisters. Regarding the trouble with Miss USA, Miss Colombia and Miss Australia, they were asked by their fans about contestants who could not speak English well. They mentioned Cambodia and Vietnam. I know that they were just showing sympathy towards us because we can’t communicate well. I honestly felt lonely that I couldn’t talk when I wanted to. Lots of fans reacted negatively about the video, but I know they didn’t mean to offend me. They said sorry and we were able to restore our relationship. In fact, Miss Australia went to Siem Reap after the pageant, and she will be coming to Phnom Penh to see me. I’m welcoming her to my home country and hope she can spread the beauty of Cambodia to her fellowmen.
YT: Did the language differences really matter during the pageant?
Rern: At first, I thought my ability to communicate in English was okay. But when I arrived in Bangkok, I suddenly felt uneasy when talking with other contestants. I had my translators, but they were not always with me. There were also other contestants who couldn’t speak English, but they know Spanish so they were still able to talk with others. But for me, nobody else spoke Khmer.
From that experience, I really encourage the next representative of Cambodia to Miss Universe to practice communicating in English so she can express herself well and connect with the other contestants.
YT: What are your next plans?
Rern: I will take the entrance exam to become a soldier. It’s really my dream, second to being a beauty queen. I want to do something for my nation. And I feel really proud seeing women who work in the army. It’s also my way of showing the world that Cambodian women are strong. I want to be a role model for other women who want to challenge themselves in fields that are considerably uncommon for them.
YT: The search for the next Miss Cambodia has already started. What do you want to tell the women who want to follow your footsteps?
Rern: Since the women come for all the provinces and cities of Cambodia, I hope they’ll be able to represent their places well. I hope they’ll gather as much information as they can about the place they are representing and show it proudly to the people. I also want them to remember that being crowned Miss Cambodia is not just about beauty and fame; it’s more about taking the responsibility to represent women in the best way possible.