COLLIE-BORN Samantha Smith is through to the semi-finals of the Miss World Australia WA competition, which makes her pretty rare.
Only one in 10 of this year’s entrants has got this far, but the judges know a good thing when they see it.
The 22-year-old pageant contestant is pretty, charming, smart, thoughtful and has a sense of humour.
Samantha was born in Collie but was taken north when she was three, when her family moved to Tom Price and then Karratha.
Now, she has moved to Bunbury and regularly travels to Collie to visit her family, including her grandmother, Ainslie Smith.
Samantha said she considers herself a country girl at heart.
A favourite childhood memory is visiting her grandmother and playing with the kangaroos on the land.
Samantha said she was “definitely not a city girl” and “I’d love to settle on a farm with lots of animals”.
Her grandparents, on her mother’s side, the late Vince and Adelina Audino, ran several businesses in Collie, including a Throssell Street deli that was sold in 2000.
Samantha said the pageant judges would choose a contestant from every state to enter the finals in Sydney. She hoped they would choose her to represent WA.
“I want to use this opportunity, to be more involved with charities,” Samantha said.
She was passionately dedicated to anti-bullying campaigns and young people with depression. She planned to be an ambassador for Inspire Foundation, she said.
Samantha felt personally involved because she knew first hand how depression could affect people’s lives.
She described herself as a “walking zombie” after leaving a long-term relationship several years ago. It was a hard time, she said.
“Everyone asked ‘where’s your happy smiley face gone?’ I just didn’t have it anymore.
“Getting help was the best thing I did”, she said, and she strongly encouraged others suffering depression to do the same thing.
There is an attitude that “no one has to know” and “a lot of people suffer silently”, she said.
Sometimes a lifetime experience could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”, triggering depression.
Samantha said she got her life together and was now studying human resources at university.
While it was disappointing she did not have a job to pay her way through university, she could still pursue her “many aspirations and dreams”, Samantha said.
She submitted an application form for Miss World Australia, not expecting to hear back when she did not attend the auditions in Perth.
She believed she was not “tall or lanky enough” to have a chance.
With a laugh she remembered the moment the pageant officials told her in May that she had been short listed.
She did not believe it at first, thinking it was “revenge” from a friend on whom she had played a practical joke.
“They rang and asked what my talent is,” Samantha said, adding they hoped she could dance or sing.
“I’m not going to lie,” the surprised contestant responded. She did not have any such special talent.
Not having a talent could be a drawback in the national finals, but Samantha intends practising Waltzing Matilda on the piano if she gets that far.
She will know if she is in the state finals after the judges’ make their decision on June 20.
There is another way to enter the national finals in Sydney — an online voting contest.
The public can vote for any of the 200 contestants across the country and the young woman with the most votes will enter the national final.
Samantha said she would have to rely on the judges to progress, because while she has attracted a respectable 4500 votes, other girls have more than 30,000.
Samantha believes she might have an idea what the judges want. Only “half the competition was about looks” and “snobs” were not going to last long throughout the pageant, she said.
The Miss World Australia website says the pageant’s theme is about “beauty with a purpose – caring, giving and inspiring”.
It continued: “Miss World Australia identifies young Australian women who exemplify beauty, talent, intelligence and compassion.”
Her grandmother, who used to volunteer at the Collie Meals on Wheels, said she was “very proud, definitely” of Samantha,
She described Samantha’s sociable personality as “lovely” and said she was a “good mixer.”
Samantha said she wanted to show Australia there was kindness in the world. “Being genuine is really important,” she said.