Villasmil who must wait until today to receive the crown and the band from his predecessor Thalía Olvino. (Facebook)
Mariangel Villasmil, a 24-year-old psychology student who represented the western state of Zulia, was announced last night as Miss Venezuela 2020.
After a completely recorded “show” without major emotions, which lasted for more than two and a half hours, the election of Villasmil was announced, who will have to wait until today to receive the crown and the band from the hands of his predecessor Thalía Olvino , in a unprecedented in the history of the popular contest.
For the first time in almost seven decades, the so-called “most beautiful night” in Venezuela was not so pretty.
The coronavirus pandemic gave a new blow to Miss Venezuela, which in the last two years has been involved in scandals and lawsuits, forcing its organizers to make a much more modest pageant, without any musical entertainment. This year spectators had to settle for recorded parades.
Miss Venezuela, like many television programs around the world, had to adapt to the demands of social distancing imposed since mid-March and to strict biosafety regulations to ensure that none of the 22 candidates, the dozens of people who work around they and the team of the private channel Venevisión, which produces and transmits the program, will be infected.
“Necessity sharpens ingenuity,” said the general manager of the organization, Nina Sicilia, speaking of the challenges that, in the midst of a pandemic and the complex crisis that is hitting Venezuela, represented to carry out the 67th edition of a contest which has resulted in seven Miss Universe crowns, six Miss World crowns, seven Miss International crowns and another 100 centers, and which has made the South American nation a world benchmark in beauty pageants.
“What we have done is rearrange ourselves, readjust the available resources, the opportunities, and always have something in mind that is the focus and the objective: to make a Miss Venezuela,” Silicia, Miss International 1985, said in an interview with The Associated Press .
Two years ago, Sicilia, María Gabriela Isler (Miss Universe 2013) and Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World 1995) assumed the executive committee of the organization, which underwent a restructuring after the abrupt departure of Osmel Sousa, the so-called Venezuelan beauty czar , who ran the pageant for nearly four decades.
For Ricardo Di Salvatore, executive producer of Venevisión, this year's edition of Miss Venezuela was an “experiment” that led to a great rearrangement. “Doing a program that you have been doing for so long and experiencing the adrenaline of the 'live' for 3 hours became two and a half months of individual recordings with the participants, where biosafety standards were also protagonists,” he said.
The absence of references to make an event of this type under the current circumstances led the organizers to innovate and rely on “reality shows in Spain and the United States, a film award in Italy and the occasional virtual parade of renowned designers”, Di Salvatore specified.
This is how the organizers decided to record each of the candidates separately without masks, in the different parades and stage appearances, and then assemble all the shots in post-production to simulate that they were together. The result will be seen on Thursday night on Venevisión.
In other countries in the region, such as Panama and Colombia, beauty contests have also been held amid the pandemic.
In July, the election of Miss Mexico Grand was held, a minor contest that according to the national director of Miss Mexico, Adán Sotelo, was the first to be held in the region in times of COVID-19 under a virtual selection scheme with girls from their homes, who were interviewed and examined via Zoom.
“We had almost 700 thousand users watching it via Facebook, but we lacked the excitement of the live contest and the young woman who won said she lacked the hugs,” Sotelo said. The manager announced that the election of Miss Mexico is scheduled for the end of October, which will go to Miss World.
In Argentina, last month the preparation of the candidates for Miss Argentina began with virtual classes on makeup, catwalk, general culture, oratory and singing, and by the end of October the winner will receive the crown and scepter at her home from the hands of the outgoing queen.
The coronation of the new Miss Venezuela and two other finalists will not be seen on the private channel until Friday, in another recorded program.
Sicilia ruled out that the fact that the contest is prerecorded is going to detract from its emotion. He recalled that during the “opening” of the show all the candidates cried in the parades and had to retouch their makeup and record them again while parading.
This edition, the process of preparing the candidates, which lasted about six months, also underwent changes, since it was carried out almost entirely online and only had a face-to-face class weeks before the event, in a large conference room. Venevisión, where the young women were divided into small groups to maintain social distancing and had to wear masks.
Under strict confinement in their homes, the 22 applicants – women between the ages of 18 and 26, including doctors, lawyers, journalists, educators and even a former Navy catwalk – had to learn at a distance to walk the runway, put on makeup and deal with the cameras, with the help of apps like BlueJeans and WhatsApp.
Learning to speak in public through a screen may seem like an impossible task, but Miss Venezuela's public speaking teacher, Dave Capella, is confident of the results achieved by his 22 students.
Capella reported that in a first stage he worked in groups with the candidates, and then went on to individual training on WhatsApp in which he concentrated on teaching them to breathe, perform on stage, diction, public speaking, and the use of the teleprompter.
Speaking of the difficulties she had to overcome to train the young women remotely, she admitted that it was difficult to identify the “manifestation of stage fright”, but that she managed to overcome that obstacle by asking the candidates to be honest and acknowledge their fears.
To train them, he said, he turned to videos of international competitions and used the questions they asked the participants at those events to interrogate them and develop their improvisation skills.