Just a little under an hour into the 65th Miss Universe pageant, the Top 13 finalists were announced by host Steve Harvey.
The first 12 candidates garnered the highest scores from the preliminary swimsuit and long gown competitions on January 26, and the subsequent closed door interviews. The 13th finalist, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, secured a spot from online voting scores.
As they were called onto the stage one by one, Harvey had a quick exchange with the candidates, most of whom showed wit, confidence, and a unique story of their own.
The Top 13 are as follows:
1. Kenya – Scarlet Were
2. Indonesia – Kezia Warouw
3. USA – Deschauna Barber
4. Mexico – Kristal Silva
5. Peru – Valeria Piazza
6. Panama – Keity Drennan
7. Colombia – Andrea Tovar
8. Philippines – Maxine Medina
9. Canada – Siera Bearchell
10. Brazil – Raissa Santana
11. France – Iris Mittenaere
12. Haiti – Raquel Pelissier
13. (Chosen by fans via online voting) Thailand – Chalita Suansane
Kenya’s Were is the first candidate to represent her country in the competition while Brazil’s Santana is the first black woman to represent the South American country in 30 years.
USA’s Barber is a military reservist while Thailand’s Suansane is a microbiology student.
Early favorite Miss Venezuela Mariam Habach, who pageant experts considered a strong contender, failed to make it through the first cut.
Judging the competition are former Miss Universe titleholders Dianara Torres (1993), Sushmita Sen (1994), Leila Lopes (2010) with model and entrepreneur Cynthia Bailey, Paper magazine editorial director Mickey Boardman and social entrepreneur Francine LeFrak.