Joanna Gunay is a 33-year-old wife and proud mother of two beautiful children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. She was born in the Philippines and raised here in Sydney, Australia. She graduated with a Bachelor in Oral health from the University of Sydney in 2008 and currently works as a specialist in Orthodontic practice.
Joanna enjoys an active lifestyle, being outdoors, and spending time with her family. Some of her passions include fitness, fashion, health, and well-being. She started modelling after being scouted by an agency and since then has worked with different photographers and walked the runway for various well-renowned designers.
She was Miss Philippines-Australia 2012, and during her reign, Joanna represented the Australian-Filipino community through various social and charity events in Australia and the Philippines.
Her advocacy promotes awareness of women and children suffering domestic violence and helps create change. She believes that true beauty radiates from within and would like to use this platform to inspire, uplift, and empower other women to value their self-worth and reach their full potential. Some of the Mrs. Universe Australia Official pageant titles and awards she recently won include Mrs. Universe Australia Official 2022, Mrs. Chocolate Day Spa 2022, Best in Catwalk, and Best in Swimwear.
We recently caught up with Joanna to discuss her journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the pageant industry?
I would watch the annual Miss Philippines -Australia pageant, and I always had the thought of joining at the back of my mind. I never had the confidence to participate until a visit to my hairdresser, Ching Mercado. She encouraged me to go for it, and she also became my pageant coach and hair and makeup artist. That same year, I was scouted by a modelling agency which also exposed me to the fashion world and sparked my interest in exploring the pageantry world.
What do you like most about being a beauty queen?
women to value their self-worth and believe in the beauty of their dreams. As a proud wife and mother of two children, being a beauty queen with the title ‘Mrs’ adds more meaning because it is a testament to my strength as a woman and as a mother to lead by example and to be a role model for my kids that nothing is impossible and no dream is too big. Being able to share this experience with my children, especially my 5-year-old daughter, has been so special. To see her face light up with pride when she sees me on the stage has been absolutely endearing.
Downside to being a beauty queen?
One of the challenges is finding the balance between being a beauty queen and family life. Sometimes, my schedule can get quite busy, and juggling work, motherhood, and the responsibilities of a beauty queen can be difficult.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the industry so far?
I had the opportunity to do some charity work in the Philippines, which included visiting and donating to an orphanage and providing scholarships to some college students. It was very rewarding to see all our efforts and hard work in fundraising come to fruition and extremely uplifting to know the significant impact this would have in the lives of so many disadvantaged and less fortunate within the community.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far in the industry?
I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Miriam Scott, the CEO and founder of Barelife Naturals Australia and owner of Chocolate Day Spa- one of the sponsors for Mrs. Universe Australia Official. Coming from an impoverished background and achieving everything she has accomplished today, her life story is one of resilience and unwavering determination.
I am honoured to be one of the Barelife Naturals Australia and Chocolate Day Spa models to help bring her vision of a peaceful and sustainable world to life through this organic hub of beauty products.
It’s also been an honour to get to know Maryrose Salubre, the CEO and founder of Mrs. Universe Official, and the different candidates during the Mrs. Universe Australia pageant and hear and be inspired by their different life journeys.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the beauty pageant industry.
With the pressures and expectations of the beauty pageant industry, you can easily lose sight of yourself. I have learned the importance of being humble, staying true to yourself, and being confident in who you are despite criticism and negativity. To have the courage to stand by your beliefs and value your self-worth.
Is your family supportive of you being a beauty queen?
Absolutely. They are my biggest supporters! I am truly grateful to my family for their relentless love and support over the years and their unyielding faith in me. They are my inspiration and driving force to continue doing what I love.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
To be honest, as cliché as it may sound, I really wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve enjoyed every part of my journey, and I’ve learned and grown through each experience to better myself.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My parents instilled in me to always believe in myself at a young age. That advice has brought me to where I am today.
What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.
I will continue to promote my advocacy of domestic violence and women empowerment and be involved in charity events to help those underprivileged within our community. It is a privilege to have this platform to promote awareness, help create change, and be a voice for those who feel silenced.
Pageantry has also ignited my love and passion for modelling, and after a few years away from it, I would like to continue modelling again. I am very excited for my reign as Mrs. Universe Australia official 2022, leading up to the big event of the Mrs. Universe Official International pageant later this year.