SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Miss Heritage Croatia 2024 Marija Vukašina


Marija Vukašina is a Croatian beauty queen who currently holds the title Miss Heritage Croatia 2024. She is expected to represent her beautiful country at Miss Heritage Global 2024 in Johannesburg, South Africa in September.

Get to know more about her in this special PAGEANT Circle interview:

Please tell us about yourself. How young are you? Family? Educational background?

My full name is Marija Vukašina. My age is currently 21, soon will be 22. I am a model, beauty queen, blogger, and economics student.

I was born and raised in a small Croatian city near the Adriatic Sea, Zadar. My childhood was very beautiful there. I had a lot of friends, a big family, and attended many sports activities. I finished high school in Privatna Gimnazija Nova.

Although I moved to a bigger city called Zagreb at the age of 18 to attend college, I still have a special place in my heart for my town. 

When someone asks me what is my favourite place in Zadar, it's hard to choose only one. My go-to places are definitely the Church of St. Donatus, Sea Organ, and The Greeting to the Sun. The Sea Organ is a unique architectural object that plays music with the help of the sea waves.

What got you into pageantry?

It all started when I was 17 years old. I was invited to compete in a regional pageant in my city. Although at that point I didn't know anything about beauty pageants and modeling, I gave it a try. I didn't win anything at that time, but it was my first step into modeling and pageant work.

Now at 21, I have 8 sashes at home that I achieved with dedication and hard work, and I'm soon going to my second international pageant Miss Heritage Global in September 2024. 

I will also appear on Croatian TV Drama in a smaller role, as a model in the 60s. That will be my first acting role in life and a new opportunity for the future.

It still feels unreal to me, but I am so grateful and happy for everything that is happening now. I wish my journey inspires young women to go for their dreams and take their steps into a better future. 

Tell us about your first pageant experience.

My first modeling job was actually after my first beauty pageant, a few days later. At first pageant, it was hard to relax and I didn‘t know how to do a catwalk, but it was still a nice experience. I did show a lot of personality on stage, especially on the Q&A part. After the pageant, Croatian designer Ela Dusevic booked me for her fashion show and bikini shooting. I still have those photos and I can't believe I'm only 17 there. 

Do you have an advocacy? If so, please tell us about it.

I believe we can accomplish everything we want with hard work, consistency, and strong belief in our hearts. My advocacy is to inspire young women to go after their dreams. I also have a strong advocacy towards mental health, because you have to take care of yourself to be able to inspire others. 

Who is your biggest inspiration in life and why?

My motivation comes from my heart. I love what I do, so it helps me motivate myself on hard days. I feel grateful for every new day because each day is a blessing from God and a new opportunity to do something you love.

While growing up, my mother was my strongest role model. She showed me how to be strong and share love. She showed me how to be grateful, humble and confident.

Name three things you can't live without.

Family, friends, and love.

What makes you happy?

I am happiest when I do what I love. My heart is also full when I see people around me achieving their goals. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I actually have a lot of hobbies! The first one is modeling of course, but I also love writing blogs on the Lux Vitalis platform. Although my blogs are mostly based on fashion and beauty, I am currently working on a new blog about mental health. That theme is really important to me because before pageants I was an anxious girl that never showed up in public. Pageants helped me to overcome that and I want to share my powerful message to all the girls watching me.

When it comes to sports I am mostly into dance. Dance is my way to relax and train at the same time. I love learning new languages. I can speak Croatian, English, and Italian and I'm also learning Spanish and Turkish. 

What is your opinion about people who get plastic surgery?

I don't judge people who did it, I am happy they fixed something they were maybe insecure about. Personally, I didn't do any plastic surgery or fillers. I turned my insecurities into something that makes me unique. We don't need to be perfect to be beautiful. That is what I want to show to young women watching, we are all beautiful just the way we are. If you decide to change something, don't do it just because society expects you, do it only if your heart wishes.

Should transgender women be allowed to compete with natural-born women in beauty pageants?

Yes! I believe the World/Universe has a special place for all of us. It is about the message we send to society and I believe transgender women have a really strong message for our community and that is to not be afraid of who you really are. You are beautiful, capable, and unique!

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

I believe we don't need a superpower to be a superhero in the world. My superpower is my heart because it is the only key to change the world for the better. Everything should be done with love and compassion.

If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs — such as food and water — were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

As a Christian, I believe only God could help me in this situation so I would choose my Christian necklace and a Bible. God showed me many times in my life that He is with me so I would put my faith into God.

You were recently named Miss Heritage Croatia 2024, what does the title mean to you?

It means dedication, inspiration, and fulfilling my mission.

You are expected to represent your country at Miss Heritage Global 2024 in South Africa this September, why should you be the next winner?

I believe we are all valuable, unique, and beautiful, that is something we should never forget. When I do something or focus on something, I put my whole me in that task. Even when the days are hard and challenging, dedication is the only key to success. I work hard to make results, but I also never forget I am human. It is really important to stay grateful and humble at every point of your life.

When I started my journey, people thought I would never make it, but I refused to listen to them. Instead, I went after my goals and now I am showing my beautiful women and men who are watching that you can do it.

How would you convince the rest of the world to visit your country?

Croatia is a beautiful country with so many beautiful islands, clear rivers, and national parks. It also has one of the clearest seas in the world. The largest islands are Krk and Cres and they are full of beaches and culture.

I am coming from Zadar, a city in Dalmatia that is famous for its sea organ. That is the place where I go when I need to take time for myself and just relax while listening to the sea sound. Historically named Zara, it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia. Zadar was a Liburnian settlement, laid out in the 9th century. The famous church is St. Donatus, named after the bishop who built it. It survived a lot of wars and has been standing since the 9th century.

Dalmatia is also famous for olive oil and a lot of fish food which is really good for a healthy diet. I personally use olive oil for pretty much everything I eat and even for my skincare routine. It has a lot of vitamin E and benefits for our body and skin.

For people who like nature, national parks like Plitvice and Krka are places you need to see. My favorite one is Plitvice and it is really hard to explain with words how beautiful it is. It is a place you need to visit to understand. It also offers many activities like riding a horse or winter tourism activities.

Croatia has also a lot of grains, especially in Slavonija. We have high-quality wheat. In Zagorje you can find many traditional foods like zagorski štrukli.

Croatian people are also really proud of our national football team, which is ranked second place in the world.

To sum up, Croatia has a really special place in my heart and I am really proud and grateful to represent it.

Do you have a message for young girls out there who want to venture into the world of pageantry?

We all need to start somewhere. The start is the hardest, later it is much easier, so I would advise them to take that first step. One of my favorite quotes is: "Trying and failing is better than not trying at all."

Don't be scared, believe you have what it takes and the Universe will listen to you. Magic happens when you do not give up even though you want to. The Universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.

Photos: Zlatko Srbelj, Marija Vukašina / Instagram

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