She may have competed in a beauty pageant but Courtney Thorpe is out to prove it takes a lot more than good looks to wear the crown.
You can call Miss World Australia Courtney Thorpe a lot of things. An aspiring author, a university graduate, a qualified makeup artist, magazine editor, an entrepreneur, big sister and a born and bred Brisbane girl. Just don’t call her a beauty queen.
The stereotype that Miss World is just about strutting down a catwalk and smiling sweetly to the crowd is just one of the misconceptions the newly crowned 24-year-old hopes to break down during her reign. It’s been a whirlwind few days for Courtney after taking out the title of Miss World Australia title over the weekend, after competing against 42 other beauties at Cypress Lakes Resort by Oaks Hotels & Resorts in the Hunter Valley.
“Miss World is a bit of a dream, for every girl I think,” she says. “But what really made me want to enter is that, unlike other pageants, Miss World Australia is fundamentally a fundraising organisation. So we got to work very closely with charities and I still plan to work with Variety, The Children’s Charity, so I get to make a difference to children’s lives. It’s not just about getting up on a stage and looking beautiful.
“There is a perception out there regarding pageants but it’s not just about beauty, it’s more about educating people. It’s just such a different world and not many people are familiar with it. My family and friends knew nothing about it, they didn’t really understand it, but once people take the time to chat to me and the other contestants they very quickly realise there is a lot more to it. There are so many elements we are judged on when trying to find that holistic girl.”
Another misconception Courtney is hoping to break down is the way female relationships are depicted. When asked about how the 42 girls behaved while spending time together in such close quarters under pageant pressure, she knows most people would be quick to assume they’d been at each others throats.
“We all spent six days together down in the Hunter Valley at the resort and I can safely say that not once did I ever see any bad behavior,” she says. “In saying that, it is a beauty pageant and emotions do run high so there were definitely a few teary moments and a few tense moments. But overall everybody was just really supportive of each other and we had a lot of fun.”
The pageant itself was a roller coaster of emotion for Courtney, who gave herself an added case of nerves by switching her pageant talent at the last moment.
“I have written a children’s book so I was going to read that but at the last minute I decided to showcase my singing and dancing ability. Although I don’t know how that went,” she laughs. “I’ve been told that I need a bit more training but it was a lot of fun performing Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend. They are going to get me a singing teacher and former Miss World Australia Erin Holland is going to work with me as well.”
The last minute switch obviously didn’t hurt her chances, and although the Miss Talent sash ultimately went to fellow Brisbane beauty Lauren Ashlea Fraser, Courtney was crowned the overall winner — an experience she labelled “a mix of excitement, nerves and happiness”. But now that the judging is over, the real work begins.
“In just a few weeks I will be traveling with Erin Holland, Miss World Director Julia Morely and — most excitingly — current Miss World Megan Young to the aboriginal community of Lilla in the Northern Territory to continue the work that Miss World Australia has been doing there,” she says. “I only have until December before the Miss World crowning in London so there’s a lot of training to do in terms of exercise and perfecting my walk, my speaking and my talent.
“I am just really still in shock. It’s not every day that you wake up and realise that all your dreams have come true.”