Interview with Nova Stevens, Miss Universe Canada 2020 & Canada's Representative to the Miss Universe Competition

Guest Article by Randi Winter
Click on Magazine cover below to view the Nova Stevens magazine

What are you earliest memories from South Sudan from your family?

I’ve actually never been to South Sudan. My first time ever being there was just two weeks ago. I also had the pleasure of meeting the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. The reason for my trip wasn’t only to see the land and the people, but to also bring solutions. I donated 10,000 Covid-19 and HIV rapid tests. I’ve partnered up with a lab; we will be opening testing centres for Covid-19, HIV, cancer and the 15 other diseases that are currently affecting the people of South Sudan.

What gave you the courage to leave your family at such a young age to go so far from home?

I’m not sure if courage is the right word considering I was 6 when I left. I had no idea I’d be gone for so long. If I can recall correctly, I thought it was a vacation. I think I hold the record for the longest vacation ever! 21 years to be exact, since I’ve seen my family. I finally broke that record April 17, 2021.

You have always had a commitment to continue to help your family. What did you do when you were young, to help them and how did it make you feel?

Family has always been very important to me. In fact, I think my strength and motivation comes from knowing that my family is suffering in Africa and that I am their only hope, so I have no choice but to succeed. Not only for myself but for them as well. I’ve been working since I was 10 years old. My first job was raking leaves and babysitting. I didn’t start supporting my family until high school where I worked various jobs as a teenager. This is also around the time we started communicating. The first 10 years we had lost contact. Thankfully with the help of social media and globalization we were able to find each other.

From the first time competing,  to winning Miss Universe Canada on your third try, and now heading into Miss Universe in May, what do you remember most from your competitions?

I am Miss Universe Canada and excited to compete for Miss Universe because I have amazing people in my corner that believe in me and have helped me during this journey, especially as this all happened during the Pandemic with its own very unique, ever changing and restrictive considerations that meant we had to be very resourceful. I cannot say enough about my team and sponsors who stood by me with all the twists and turns every day-sometimes, minute by minute. There were lots of disappointments, but my same philosophy and ethics helped get me where I am at this moment, ready to embrace the Miss Universe experience in Florida.

Beyond the Miss Universe contest in May, what are your personal aspirations?

Beyond the pageant, I want to spend more time with my family and buy them a home to ensure they can live with a real quality of life, wherever they are. I envision my non-profit, Go SuperNova, operate internationally, be a successful entrepreneur and run for political office in Canada.

What would you tell other young women blessed with an unconventional beauty on how to believe in themselves? What was your epiphany? Were you always comfortable with who you were? Did living in a multicultural city like Vancouver help?

I think for the most part I was comfortable with myself. When it comes to beauty ideologies, I think I fell into that trap growing up. I used to straighten my hair, wear weaves and wigs all the time. This is not inherently bad, as hair is merely an accessory. It becomes bad when you don’t feel comfortable showing your natural beauty. When I cut my hair at first it wasn’t because I wanted to, but because my hair was really damaged from relaxers (chemical straightener) and so I had no choice. I hated the idea of having short hair because I thought it would make me look like a man. Once I did it, I felt liberated from the traditional constraints of beauty and femininity. 

Far right photo - photographer credit @browning_hill

With that being said, I would tell young girls to believe in themselves and not make themselves smaller, just because society expects them to. I would also tell them that being different is good. It allows you shine in your own way and that the best version is always the original, which is you. So please, don’t change for a prototype.

Your life has required tremendous discipline and values from early on. What’s your secret sauce as a social activist, representative of your country and your heritage, an international model that has graced the world’s most famous runways and represented the most famous brands?

I don’t think it’s a secret. It’s more of a having a ‘Can do’ attitude. I’ve received many ‘No’s’ I’ve told myself over the past that “No” is an acronym for ‘New Opportunities’ so when I hear those words, I continue until the right path opens. Just because you don’t achieve your dreams at your desired time, doesn’t mean you never will.

How can people find and support you on social media for your We*R One project and your foundation as well as for the Miss Universe Competition which will be televised on May 16th, 2021 from Florida?

It would mean the Universe to me, if you can vote for me on the official Miss Universe app to help get me into the top 21! You can vote once for free or pay for additional votes. Voting will end on Saturday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

To vote, just visit the official page 
or download the Miss Universe official app on your Android or iOS application.

You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter - links below - and check out my website

What kind of role model and legacy do you want to create for yourself?

I want to be remembered for challenging the status quo of what is considered beautiful. Remember me as someone who has fearlessly used her voice to fight for racial equality. Remember me as a warrior who has peacefully fought for the rights of all people. Lastly, I want to be an inspiration to people of colour who have been told the colour of their skin is a hindrance. I say to you, it is a badge of honour so wear it with pride.

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Randi Winter is the Co-Founder of The P2P Life, an umbrella of travel, events, philanthropy and media divisions which includes Travel with a Cause. Her motto is “Let your passions be your guide,” whether it is transforming #traveldreams2memories or collaborating with experts across many areas to create unique travel, retreats, and events, finding ways to dive deeper into transformative experiences. She has cruised, sailed, barged, spa-d, hiked, biked, walked, talked, shopped, and eaten her way through many countries and is still hungry for more! 

Randi is a dual US (New York) and Canadian (Vancouver) Citizen. She writes, mentors, and consults, shaping her into an excellent facilitator and connector. Whatever the company, project, or cause, she approaches it with a deep passion and a 50,000- foot perspective. She and her family have started an educational non-profit in the U.S., Diabetes and Me. She is honoured to share the new technology she used to create the linked magazine.