WHEN THE CROWN has been placed, the sash straightened and the million-watt smile splashed across the front page the following day, how do pageant winners fill their subsequent reigning year? Acting? Adverts? Dodging the phone calls of certain tycoons who take a notoriously keen interest in the competitions? Perhaps a combination of all three? However, the current Miss Brasil 2020 (we’re giving the title its native spelling) and Miss Universe first runner-up, Julia Gama, is making good on pledges often made by contestants under the spotlight. If not directly reaching for world peace, Gama is contributing to it by travelling to Dubai this week in order to raise awareness about a cause close to her heart: female empowerment.
In partnership with the United Nations Higher Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), on Saturday Gama took her place as a panellist at the #UnitedTalk Series to speak about women in the workforce among other gender equality topics at the SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences in Business Bay. Sat alongside other locally-based females of influence such as UNHCR Solidarity Circle Member Zel Ali, the event titled Global Trailblazing Women Leaders of Society was moderated by Josh Yugen, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of XPEDITION magazine.
We spoke to Gama to find out more.
How do you reconcile being a beauty pageant winner with female empowerment in today’s world? Many people would think those two spheres at odds.
Nowadays being a beauty queen is so much more than representing outside beauty. We are talking about what kind of message you bring to the world, what is the purpose of your title and what you do with your title. The title gives me a platform. I don’t feel like the ‘standard of beauty’. I feel like someone who tries to bring inspiration to people and is trying her best to be very conscious of her actions. I’m not only trying to represent my people, Brazilians, or Latin people but all women from all over the world. This is my role. It’s not just about being beautiful.
How important was charity work in your life before you became Miss Brasil?
For me the work brings purpose to life. My title just gives me a reason and I can really work for my community. Thanks to the title of Miss Universe runner-up, now I can touch more lives. It’s very meaningful to me. Being in Dubai now it’s such a pleasure to see how globally we are working. If I can contribute with women on this side of the world then I feel empowered and inspired. I’m really excited to be here because we’re gathering women for an amazing reason: empowerment. I believe in the power of togetherness and it’s such an honour to be part of it.
Do you believe it is a celebrity’s responsibility to shine a light on issues, which perhaps do not enjoy a great deal of traction?
We live in a world where celebrity has a really strong voice. We have a lack of representatives for causes in many countries so if we can connect with people and they can feel close to us it’s our duty to inspire people, to bring positivity and hope. We need to help people focus on core values because it’s what our society needs: more empathy, more unconditional love and more unity. As a celebrity I do feel it is my responsibility and I’m really happy other women from this event also feel the same.
How do you deal with social media attention, both good and bad? Do you feel the exposure sometimes goes too far?
Social media is an incredible tool that, if we use it correctly, can bring the world together. With the pandemic especially we spend more time on social media than with our loved ones, so what we consume makes us who we are and influences what we think. That’s why it’s so important to be very critical about what you consume. As a public person I’m also very conscious about what I post to bring something positive to this platform.
What for you is the ultimate aim from participating in events such as these in Dubai?
I believe here we are talking to the entire world. We are gathering professionals from each area. I know anyone who listens to our talks will be touched by the message and feel represented. I want as many women around the world to feel their power and feel supported, that they’re not alone. They are important to society.
How have you found Dubai during your visit?
I have only been here a few days but I am so impressed with the city. Everything is so beautiful and magnificent. People are so kind. I feel a real warm welcome. I am in love with Dubai and I want to come back many times. The food is awesome. I love hummus so much! I feel this is the place of opportunities and possibilities. Everyone has a dream and I will take this inspiration I find in Dubai and show it to the whole world. I have Lebanese blood so I love the Arabic culture. Being here is like reconnecting with my roots. I feel at home. I cannot explain it, but it’s so amazing to be here.
Josh Yugen on why he conceptualised the trailblazing women leaders event.
“We always support women and it’s a celebration of women from all over the world regardless of what industry they come from. It’s also in acknowledgement of the UNHCR which supports a lot of children. I am so happy Miss Brazil came all the way here to be with us.”