Miss Universe Germany 2019, Miriam Rautert, is half-Trinidadian, and hopes to visit Trinidad next year. That, however, depends on how she fares at the upcoming Miss Universe pageant. If she comes, it would be her second visit to the her mother's native country.
Rautert, whose father is German, was born in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. She last visited TT in 2016.
"I absolutely fell in love with TT," she told WMN in an e-mail interview from Berlin, where she lives. "I am so looking forward to visit again, probably in 2020."
From what she recalls of that trip, "The people were super-friendly. I love the beaches in Tobago. And the food is everything. Bake and shark was my favourite. I miss the weather, the food, the beaches. I really look forward to go (sic) back soon."
But Trini food does not appear to be absent from her Berlin home. "My grandmother always cooks Trinidadian food. When we have a family dinner there is always everything from roti to bake."
Rautert, nicknamed Miri, said she keeps in touch with her Trinidadian relatives via social media.
"I am in a good contact with my family in Trinidad. They sometimes come to Germany as well, or we talk via Instagram or WhatsApp."
Given her affinity to this country, Rautert wishes TT were better known to people across the Atlantic. "It's sadly a very unknown place. Not many people talk about TT even though it is so beautiful."
What she prefers to keep private are details about her parents. "I want to respect the privacy of my parents." She disclosed that her mother had lived in Sangre Grande, but declined to reveal her profession. Neither would she give her father's.
She said her parents' first encounter was through a mutual friend. "My parents met because of a friend of my mom who introduced them to each other."
Rautert, however, posted an old, undated family photo of them in an Instagram story on September 7, six days after winning the German pageant. It shows her mother and father standing with Rautert as a little girl along with an older sibling. The accompanying caption reads: "My sisters (sic) first school day back then."
Providing some insight into Rautert's past is a story on the news website conandaily.com. According to the story, "When she was 15, Rautert moved from Viersen, Germany, to Hagen, Germany, where her parents and three close friends currently live. Oftentimes, Rautert visits her family in Hagen.
"Eventually, Rautert studied at a private university in Iserlohn, Märkischer Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. In 2018, she moved to Berlin for the sixth semester."
The accuracy of these details could not be verified (Rautert did not answer all the questions sent to her by WMN), given that Conan Daily's online report contains some inaccuracies. (It says she was "born in TT").
Rautert, who told WMN she has a BA in journalism and business communication, works as a full-time fashion model under the name Miriam Anderson. Online reports say she is represented by Two Management, a Copenhagen-based modelling agency, and is signed to agencies in Germany, Denmark, Austria, and the UK (where she does much of her work). She stands at a petite 1.67m tall.
Her Instagram page is replete with modelling and beauty photos as well as casual, fun shots showing her without make-up, her freckles, and her naturally curly hair. She even posted a video to demonstrate "how I style my curls".
In an IG post on June 26, Rautert told her 24,000 followers that she has been in the modelling arena since childhood.
"Modelling is not only a job for me, it's a passion," she wrote. "I started so early, and at a young age of five or six I already knew that I want (sic) to be a model one day..."
Some posts reveal her pride in he multinational roots, as it is accompanied by hashtags such as #trini #trinidadian and #german. In fact, her dual heritage is mentioned in most online reports on her victory as Miss Universe Germany 2019, describing her as a "German-Trinidadian model."
The website angelopedia.com went further to note that Rautert "made history by being crowned as the first black Miss Universe Germany."
WMN asked the German-Trinidadian beauty, "What positive and/or negative responses have there been to your victory as the first black woman to win the Miss Germany crown?"
Rautert replied: "There are always people on social media that try to bring you down or leave negative comments but I honestly don’t give them any attention.
"I can proudly say that I have made history with being the first petite girl standing at 5’5" and the first half German half Trinidadian woman winning the crown for Miss Universe Germany."
Rautert said she had long set a goal to participate in the global beauty pageant, and entered Miss Universe Germany when she felt she was sufficiently prepared.
"It was always a dream of mine to be part of the Miss Universe show. I watched it since I am very young and always found those women inspiring. They are intelligent, beautiful, and confident, and they all have a mission that they want to bring into the world. I prepared for Miss Universe Germany until I felt ready and decided last year to apply for this year."
Come competition time, Rautert will not be the only bi-racial woman vying for the Miss Universe title.
Birta Abiba Þórhallsdóttir, 20, Miss Universe Iceland 2019, is her country's first part-black titleholder. And Kaliegh Garris, 19, is the first Miss Teen USA to win sporting an Afro hairstyle. They both grew up in overwhelmingly white environments, and have had to navigate their self-identity journeys.
If Rautert wins Miss Universe 2019, she would be the second titleholder from her country. Germany’s first and still only Miss Universe is Marlene Schidt, now 81, who was crowned way back in 1961.
The last time Germany even placed in Miss Universe was in 2002 when Natascha Börger, of Hamburg, made it to the top ten at the 51st edition of the pageant which was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rautert knows TT's record of capturing the Miss Universe crown twice in the pageant's 67-year history: in 1977 when Janelle Penny Commissiong became the first woman of colour to win the title, and in 1998 with Wendy Fitzwilliam.
When she goes to the international pageant, she said, she will be looking out for the representative from TT. "I would be super happy to meet Miss Universe Trinidad and Tobago."
Raugert, however, may not get the opportunity as TT representation at the international pageant is unlikely. There is no current pageant director. In fact, there has been no Miss Universe TT since Yvonne Clarke appeared in the 2017 pageant in Las Vegas.
The reigning Miss Universe 2018 is Catriona Gray, 25, of the Philippines. She is the fourth Miss Universe from her country and the 67th woman to hold the title. The 68th edition of Miss Universe pageant is scheduled for December 19. The host nation is yet to be announced. The contest has been held on every continent except for Africa. It was held in Trinidad in 1999.
The pageant is run by the Miss Universe Organisation, which is currently owned by the WME/IMG talent agency.
American businessman Donald Trump, now US President, owned the Miss Universe Organisation from 1996 to 2015.