The Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 pageant was held as an E-Gala on the 5th of September this year. At the finals, the stunning Miss Francisca Luhong James was crowned as the winner!
Francisca is originally from Kuching, Sarawak, and has been competing in beauty pageants since 2015. Now the gorgeous 24-year-old has secured her place as the proud Miss Universe Malaysia for the year 2020.
So, since the whole of Malaysia is definitely curious to know who their new Miss Universe really is, we have listed out 10 facts about Francisca Luhong James that you definitely ought to know:
1. She said a prayer just before being crowned as the winner.
At an exclusive interview with Hype, Francisca spoke about how she was both excited and nervous to be one of the top two finalists for the Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 pageant. However, even through the rush of emotions she felt while waiting for the winner to be announced, Francisca placed her trust in God.
“I was standing there holding her (Charissa Chong) hand’s and, I prayed and said that if it was meant for me it will be. Because I’m already here (in the top two) and if I’m the winner then I will do my best for Malaysia,” said Francisca while explaining what she felt on stage moments before being crowned. “I’ve worked so hard to be here and I just left it to God.”
2. Francisca got along with all the other contestants.
While Francisca was closest to the first runner up (Charissa Chong) and the other contestants from Borneo, she managed to get along with all the girls without much drama or conflict. “Surprisingly, there’s not much drama going on,” said Francisca with a chuckle. “So, all of us are friends actually.”
Francisca also explains that the contestants got closer throughout the pageant as they all worked together and supported each other. “Everyone asked each other (for assistance) throughout the pageant. We have our manager, Alex, who will remind us on what to do and what to bring. But sometimes we’re not sure, so we will contact each other. So basically, all of us are very close.”
3. Being given the contestant number 01 pushed Francisca to do even better.
We noticed that not only did Francisca leave the pageant as the number one contestant, but she also entered the pageant with contestant number 01. Accordingly, Francisca was always the first contestant to come up on stage and this motivated her to do better and be her best.
“It’s a good thing to be number one. Because then you know that you need to always be sharp and always know what to do… I’m going to be the first to be asked questions from, I’m going to be the first to come out, where the judges will see me first. So everything falls on me. The pressure is real,” explains Francisca. “So for me I think it kind of helped me as well to be the number one contestant because it kept me focused.”
4. Her most nerve-wracking moment throughout the final was when preparing for the prejudging.
The prejudge session in the Miss Universe pageant is when all the contestants will be asked questions in order for the judges to know them better. Typically, none of the contestants will know what questions they will be asked. Thus, this can be quite a nail biting situation because no one knows what to expect!
And apparently, our newest Miss Universe Malaysia felt the same and, she overcame her nerves by going into her “own zone” to mentally prepare for the segment.
“The most nerve-wracking moment I would say was when it came towards the prejudging time. That’s when we realised oh my gosh the final is just around the corner. Before the prejudging we’re really like in our own zone where all of us just want to prepare for the prejudge session,” stated Francisca. “You will see all of us in our own zone trying to prepare ourselves for any questions the judge could just ask us.”
5. She looks forward to showcasing her rich culture and heritage on the Miss Universe stage.
Francisca comes from Sarawak with a mixed background rich in the Kayan, Kenyah and Iban lineages. Her father is Kayan-Kenyah and her mother is Iban-Dayak, making Francisca the fist Dayak woman to have ever been crowned Miss Universe Malaysia.
Accordingly, Francisca plans to showcase her unique and rich culture through her new role as Miss Universe Malaysia 2020. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and working with the Sarawak side as well. Because it’s been a while and people don’t usually see the other side of Malaysia, so we would like to share that culture on the Miss Universe stage,” said Francisca. She also pointed out that she would like to share her culture with the world by using social media.
6. She can thrive on both the Miss Universe stage and the woods!
Francisca’s father’s longhouse, with a total of 110 doors, is said to be the longest in Malaysia. This childhood home is where Francisca used to gather with her family and rough it out in the paddy fields.
“We will go back to my dad’s longhouse and we will have this beautiful celebration. All of us would gather together in the field and we would have a family day. Everyone just comes out and we would do sports activities and cook together. It’s just rich and full of culture. It’s a huge family!,” exclaims Francisca excitedly.
“You can put me in the woods and I can survive. Last time I would say no I don’t want to go to a paddy field, but my grandmother would say no you must go and you need to know how to do this,” continued the Sarawakian beauty while explaining how grateful she is for her childhood experiences. “But I thank God she brought me there because now I can share this. When I got crowned she cried and said you see now all your hard work paid off but don’t forget your longhouse.”
7. She did not seek to be a model, but modelling came looking for her.
Francisca had an unexpected meet-cute experience with her destiny to model. Unlike most models, the tall and slender beauty queen never dreamt of becoming a model. Instead she tells us the most interesting story of when she first got scouted by a make-up artist named Gabriel Padan:
“At that time, Dewi Liana was Miss World Malaysia 2014 and she was representing Malaysia. So she wanted to bring a souvenir for all the girls. So Gabriel Pandan came to my Aunty’s shop and I was working there. My aunty had instructed me to go and find this bracelet that Gabriel needed. When I stood up Gabriel said: ‘You’re so tall, you have this unique look. Have you ever thought of modelling or taking part in beauty pageants?’ And I just laughed because I didn’t feel beautiful at the time. Long story short that’s how it started.”
8. She used to be very camera shy!
While Francisca is now spending a majority of her career in front of cameras, she used to be very camera shy. “In University it was hard for me to speak in front of a camera. You don’t see me going in front of cameras and speaking like (someone with training),” explains Francisca. However, as Francisca holds a degree in Public Relations and also garnered significant experience with the media through modelling, she is now more confident than ever to work it from any camera angle.
“Right now I’m talking in front of a camera, before I was talking to people behind the scenes. It helped me to understand people more – that’s what PR does. So no matter how moody you are or how hard it is to deal with people, it taught me communication skills,” says Francisca while retelling her experiences as a PR executive.
9. She’s single but has a “very close guy friend”.
The beauty queen did not divulge much about the king of her dreams, but she did point out that she does indeed have a close male friend. We’re still not sure who this close male friend is and what exactly his role is in her life… However, she did make sure to also confirm that while she has a good male friend, she is still not in a relationship after all.
The Miss Universe Malaysia’s romantic life doesn’t seem to be set in stone right now and the public doesn’t know exactly what’s going on. However, this is exactly what she had to say about it: “But of course I have a very close guy friend, we just got to know each other, but to say I’m in a relationship – no, I’m not.”
10. If you do plan on taking her on a date, just know that she prefers fine dining over chilling on the beach 😉
Since we now know that Francisca is not in a romantic relationship, some of you handsome lads out there still have a chance to woo her. If you’re tall, charming, and a gentleman who doesn’t try too hard, then you just might be the perfect man for Miss Universe Malaysia 2020!
So if you tick all those boxes and plan to take her out, do keep in mind that Francisca likes to be dined and wined on a first date. “Chilling on the beach is good, but that will be after – if I approve!,” exclaims Francisca with a good laugh. “Of course, I love fine dining in a way that you get to speak to him and get to know him. It’s just chill and not too much. On the beach is kind of trying too hard. He would have to think of where to sit and what to bring.”
Francisca Luhong James is more than just beauty and comes from a background that has helped her into becoming a strong, independent and graceful woman. We know that she will do great things for Malaysia on the Miss Universe international stage and eagerly look forward to what’s next from this gorgeous queen!