Not your typical Miss World hopefuls

Maria-Anna Zenieries

If there was a perfect resume for a Miss World Singapore contestant, then Singaporean Maria-Anna Zenieries, 18, is likely to have it.

Her background reads like a winner in the making, she lived in places like Ghana and China when she was younger because of her dad's work.

Settling in Singapore only when she was 12, Miss Zenieries - whose mum is Singaporean-Chinese and father, Greek - prides herself in having helped children from third-world countries because she was living among them in Africa.

She recalled: "In Ghana, it was a way more simple life... so you have more time with family and friends.

"I used to climb trees instead and didn't use the Internet at all.

"My mum would hold plenty of fund-raisers, where people would donate things and we'd sell them. The proceeds would go to the people (living) in poverty there." Her mother, Yvonne Ng, in her 50s, encoura

ged her to do charity work. She was also the runner-up of Miss World Singapore in 1978.

Talent-wise, Miss Zenieries can act, dance and sing. She's a trained opera singer as well as a ballet, jazz and hip-hop dancer.

The United World College graduate, who majored in English and psychology, said: "My future goal is to go to all the disaster areas and help out, either with the United Nations or Red Cross some day.

"I joined Miss World Singapore because I also believe in beauty with a purpose.

"The whole charity concept is what I'm all about and I love meeting people and just talking to them."

Although her mum was a Miss World Singapore contestant back in the day, she said that she's under no pressure. That's because her mum has reminded her that it's important that she just puts in her best.

While she has only been living here for the last six years, the Anderson Primary School alumnus claims she's "as Singaporean as can be".

For one, she's a huge fan of durian and can eat lots of the creamy fruit in one sitting.

Even though she's in a relationship with an officer who is serving his national service, she's crazy about the male cast of local film-maker Jack Neo's hit army flick Ah Boys To Men .

Miss Zenieries, who hopes to snag a role in the third instalment of Ah Boys To Men, said: "I've watched the movie five times and I can recite all the lines in it.

"Oh goodness, it's hard to pick a favourite because I like them all.

"Tosh (Zhang), (Wang) Weiliang and Maxi (Lim) are so enjoyable to watch.

"If I saw one of them on the streets, I'm sure I would be thinking about running up to him and telling him 'I love you', and I think he would freak out."

Elizabeth Houghton

She has never met her biological father.

Singaporean ITE College East student Elizabeth Houghton is thankful that her British stepdad has been her pillar of support. Her Eurasian Singaporean mum, Ms Emelda Paulo, 40, married him when Miss Houghton was just two years old.

Her real dad, who is also British, walked out on her mother when he found out that she was pregnant.

They were never married.

Miss Houghton, 18, said her mum, who has Spanish-Portuguese-Filipino ancestry, had revealed her lineage to her when she was nine.

The runner-up of Miss Singapore Intercontinental 2012 told The New Paper: "What my mum told me was that she was working in Kuala Lumpur when she was dating my dad, and he left after she told him about the pregnancy.

"She then came to Singapore to give birth to me and met my stepdad who, as it turns out, knew my birth father as they had worked in Hong Kong together as bartenders years ago."

She added: "I would never look for my birth father because I would never want to find someone who hurt my mum.

"If he came to look me up now, I will want to ask him why he left her.

"Other than that, I'm a very happy person because there's a lot of love and support from my family."

Currently dating her schoolmate, the only child - she has no step-siblings - is a self-confessed tomboy.

She loves longboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking and doing volunteer work on weekends as a cadet lieutenant for the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps.

The latter requires her to teach secondary school students about first aid, fire safety and crime prevention.

She is also about to realise her dream of being a paramedic - she will soon be embarking on an internship with Changi General Hospital.

Miss Houghton works part-time as a guest relations agent at local nightspot Ku De Ta and as a bartender at Thai restaurant Bangkok Jam to earn extra money during the school holidays.

She said: "I've been helping people with first aid since I was 13, wiping scraped knees with alcohol swabs whenever someone fell in school (St. Hilda's Secondary).

"I'm not squeamish about blood but then again, I haven't seen anything that bad yet."

Does she think her parentage would help her stand out in Miss World Singapore, which she joined because she "enjoyed" her experience of competing in Miss Singapore Intercontinental 2012?

"People's eyes always pop when they find out that I'm so mixed," she replied. "But I don't think that gives me an advantage here. They will just call me rojak!



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