She is not just a pretty face, far from it. Taking on her new role of Miss Universe Malaysia 2018, Jane Teoh is more than ready to be seen – but she also wants to be heard.

The recently crowned 20-year-old Penangite thinks that it is important for women to have a voice and speak up. According to her, everyone should be able to stand up for what they believe in.

“Now that I’m in the public eye, I realise that I’ll have the ‘strength’ to highlight important issues to do with society. I’m passionate about helping the underprivileged, for example.”

On the subject of giving a voice to the voiceless, she adds: “ All women should be able to feel empowered. Knowing that you’ll be heard, it gives you confidence. And helps foster self-respect.”

Teoh thinks that social movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up (started in response to sexual harrasment allegations in Hollywood) are really important because it shows how public figures can play their part.

“Those with a following are using their influence to stand up for others. It has helped victims to find the courage. The support being shown for those in need is really encouraging.”

Jane Teoh

The 20-year-old Penangite wants to be an agent of change and to inspire those around her.

Regarding her plans for the near future, Teoh says that she will focus on just one thing – getting herself ready for the Miss Universe grand finals at the end of the year, where she will be representing Malaysia.

She is deferring her studies for a year as well. This includes a scholarship with Help University, received as part of the prize for clinching the title of Miss Universe Malaysia 2018.

“I’m feeling excited about my journey. But I’m still coming to terms with my win. It has not fully sunk in yet. Yes, it still needs some getting used to,” the accounting and finance student adds.

When asked about the perceived behind-the-scenes drama that everyone seems to be interested in, Teoh says that it detracts from the real message of beauty pageants. She understands the fascination though.

“Everyone thinks that the experience is glamorous. No, it’s hardwork. What actually happens off-camera is the extensive training we received. People always think negatively of those who join, but they don’t know the reality of it,” she points out.

“Most of the time, I just ignore the haters. I try to focus on the positive. Sometimes, I’ll just joke about the hateful comments I get. I’ll share them with my sister and we’ll just laugh it off.”

Joining the pageant was very much a leap of faith for Teoh. She explains that she made the decision after having modelled part time for some time, and that it was on an impulse.

As it is, Teoh’s parents have her back. She relates that they were watching the live broadcast of the Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 finals in Penang, and have been far more excited than she is about the whole thing.

“I had a very happy childhood. I grew up doing things that I liked and I had the freedom to pursue my own interests. It was a laidback life,” Teoh states, about life in Penang.

“My parents have been supportive of me when I first started modelling. They were very positive when I decided to join the pageant too. They called me right after the crowning,” she concludes.

Jane Teoh

The 20-year-old Penangite wants to be an agent of change.

Venue: Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur
Official makeup partner: Lancome
Official haircare: L’Oreal Professionnel
Official hair salon: Miko Galere
Crown: Ceres Jewels
Dress: Khoon Hooi