A year ago, Ella Wilson had a plan. She knew where she would be ten years from now. Her path was straightforward and clear cut. But a year on and the bubbly 27-year-old has decided to head down a different path.
Wilson was living in Melbourne when she decided to re-evaluate her life after a long term relationship ended. She sold all her stuff, packed a suitcase and bought a one-way ticket back to New Zealand to explore a new direction in life.
Wilson is currently living with family and working in the Auckland Real Estate industry while she keeps her schedule open for new opportunities to step out of her comfort zone.
“The fact is, I have no plan,” says Wilson. “It’s scary and daunting but means I can be open to all the things that come my way. Now the path is free to go where it wants, and it can be windy and take me anywhere.”
Wilson’s wish for opportunity was met when one of the organisers of an event she attended told her about the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant. With her path now free and her mind open to new experiences, she took the opportunity with both hands.
Wilson sees the pageant as an excellent way to focus on herself for a while; while boosting her profile and other talents. She is a singer, an actress, an animal rights activist, a literature and philosophy graduate and has just learnt to play the ukulele. Her father is a musician also and the pair have performed together on stage since she was 12. She says he’s a huge influence and inspiration in her life.
Since making the 20 finalists in the Miss Universe NZ pageant, she admits to moments where she’s felt “out of her depth”.
“The competition really isn’t just about a pretty face,” says Wilson.
The contestants are asked to fill different requirements – one being an entrepreneurial challenge to fundraise for the Variety children’s charity. Lots of thinking and hard work goes on behind the scenes.
For Wilson, the hardest part of the competition has been the self-promotion. She’s had to overcome her fear of judgement – mainly from her herself.
But in true ‘Ella style’ she manages to brush it off most of the time, “stuff it, you can only be yourself,” she says.
“I’m not as active on social media as I’d like to be, that’s because I’m quite a private person, a country girl. I’m clumsy, quirky and weird and I don’t want to play into the unrealistically heightened sense of perception that is portrayed by the media.”
And although it is somewhat of a popularity contest, Wilson says she’s not interested in promoting a fake version of herself.
“I’m focusing on what makes me relatable and what makes me unique. This way I don’t lose moral integrity.”
Even though she finds the competition challenging at times, she feels herself changing and growing as a person. She’s surprised herself a lot and learnt so much more about who she is and what she’s capable of – which in itself, she says, is the biggest reward.
The final pageant will be held at Sky City Theatre on October 24.
Voting is open to the public at $1 per vote and sold in $5 bundles. For every bundle sold $1 goes to Variety.
Click here to vote for Ella.
Click here to follow Ella’s journey on Facebook.