Twenty-two-year- old Debora Lopes de Oliveira has been chosen to represent Macau in this year’s Miss Grand International Beauty Pageant.
Currently working as a professional dancer and a fashion model, Debora recently graduated from the University of East London, where she studied Urban Dance Practice. She then joined a female hip-hop group in London with whom she has been performing in different events.
Interviewed by the Times, Debora Lopes de Oliveira talks about her expectations as a local representative in the international contest.
Macau Daily Times (MDT) – How did you get involved in the pageant?
Debora Lopes de Oliveira (DLO) – I visit Macau every year to see my family and friends and this year I came back and I learned about the beauty pageant [Miss Grand Macau] and my brother supported me and motivated me to apply. I really never thought about applying to this kind of contest, as my goals have always been focused on dancing. But, I did look into it and it looked pretty fun and like a really good experience. Then I start to realize that I might be a good representative for Macau as I am part-Chinese and part-Portuguese and also because when I was in England I realized that many people do not know about Macau and its culture, so I was starting to feel like that I wanted to be the voice to promote Macau (through the pageant).
MDT – How does participating in an International Pageant like this change or challenge your daily activities? What are your advantages?
DLO – It is going to be something new to me and definitely is going to be a challenge, but I am a very hard-working person and I want to work hard for this and really help to promote Macau. I think I can use what I already have and the experiences I collected from my years in London, and also the fact of being a dancer. I feel that somehow that part already prepared me to get into this beauty pageant. I think my stage experience will also help me, as I have been performing all my life, since I was very young and that gives me a lot of confidence on stage.
MDT – As with any pageant, this is also composed of several activities and would call for your performance in different areas. What is it that allows you to feel more comfortable and what can provide you with an extra advantage?
DLO – I have been modeling already for some time for my brother [designer Nuno Lopes de Oliveira] for his collections and new fashion designs, so I have also that runway walk experience and I am pretty confident with that. That is one of the areas where I want to shine.
MDT – Do you think that the fact that you were living abroad for some significant time gives you a different sense of belonging to Macau?
DLO– Yes, definitely! Going abroad contributed to me learning how to be more independent as well. Macau is quite small and many people are quite reserved – sometimes overprotective. I went to England to study when I was 15 years old and that gave me some sense of independence. Also, because I was abroad, I often had to explain where Macau is and what it is like. That pushed me to learn more and search more about my own place.
MDT – Talking about dance, how do you see the Macau scene at the moment?
DLO – I think it is definitely getting a lot better. I remember that when I was studying in Macau in high school there was not much dancing going on, and that is what pushed me to go abroad to study dance. Now I see a lot of dance studios appearing and also some events happening in the dance industry, and I think it is going to grow. Macau is a diverse city itself. It has a cultural side and a glamorous side but my feeling is that people do not really know much about the cultural side. That is what I will try to do, to provide more insights in[to] this field.
MDT – We have been talking about your experience but we also know about your brother. Do you think there is space in Macau and opportunities for this generation that both of you can be a part of? To return to Macau with the added value of the learning collected abroad.
DLO – Yes, I do think there are some opportunities, but most importantly I would like to say I am really grateful that I have my parents. Not all parents would allow their daughter to go and pursue their dream when they are 14. My parents really believed in me and my brother. They understood that we had a goal, and they really wanted us to be able to do what we wanted to do. I feel that I’m very lucky to have parents like my own. That was definitely a very important part, that support from my parents, that I am really grateful for. I know a lot of people who did not have that chance and I am very grateful for all the support that my parents provided along the way.
MDT – Is this the year that Macau will get its first Miss Grand International Winner?
DLO – I sure hope so [laughs]. I will work very hard for this and I really hope I can be the one to boost Macau and let the world know more about our region.
Finals to be in Myanmar
Established in 2013, the Miss Grand International has been gaining momentum over the last couple of years. Among the previous winners are Maria Jose Lora, Peru (2017), Ariska Putri Pertiwi, Indonesia (2016) and Claire Parker, Australia (2015), among others. In Miss Grand Macau 2017, Kayii Lei represented Macau in the contest. Debora will now represent Macau in this year’s Miss Grand International finals to be held on October 25 in Myanmar.