When a video of her explaining her project during the preliminaries emerged on social media, many pledged their support to Naomie Nishimwe and hoped that she would be the next beauty queen. True to their word, the 21-year-old won the most votes and was eventually crowned Miss Rwanda, and Miss Photogenic, 2020. Miss Rwanda competition was not the first time she appeared in social media circles. Nishimwe has also been among the popular quartet known for their entertaining videos. On a chilly Thursday morning, The New Times paid a visit to her home, where she shared her experience about the beauty pageant and her aspirations in life. Coming out to meet the crew, she appeared very vibrant and lively throughout the entire interview, often pausing to crack a joke and laugh out loud. Her striking beauty, petite body and simplicity reflecting the sophistication of the beauty queen that she is. Growing up, Nishimwe always dreamt of being a beauty queen, particularly Miss Rwanda. Even though she was not sure she would go back home with the crown, she decided to give a try. “When I was a kid, I used to wear my mother’s heels and walk around the house saying “I’m Miss Rwanda”. My mother thought I was crazy but I love participating in groups that have a cause and I also wanted to represent my country which is why I had to participate in the pageant. “I was inspired by the need to help and seeing how the pageant enables young girls to showcase their abilities and reach out to the people. The support from people was one of the things that helped me push to be Miss Rwanda, they kept encouraging and telling me how I was already Miss Rwanda even though I didn’t believe it and I cannot thank them enough,” she said. During the competition, finalists had the chance to tour different parts of the country as well as interact with professionals in different fields like culture, media and business. Nishimwe left the boot camp with some lessons: “At the boot camp I met a lot of girls who were friendly, smart and I quickly connected with them. I learned how to support the people you are competing with, accept criticism from people and be more confident. The canopy walk was the most challenging task I had during my time there. Her project, addressing mental disorders, specifically depression was inspired by her social media popularity. “What influenced this project was people texting me for advice on how to handle their depression and it meant something really big for them. People think that the only way to tell that someone is depressed is if they are crying or feeling sad but no, you could also show signs by eating a lot or laughing a lot, you’re simply not being yourself. Depression is common among Rwandans and it concerns all of us.” Away from the competition and her project, she describes herself as brave, friendly, sociable, funny and very honest. “I can fit into every group. Contrary to what people see on social media, I’m friendly and funny. I love meeting new people talking to them and giving advice where I can. If you notice in the videos I’m the one making people laugh. I also tell the truth as it is, right or wrong,” she says. The senior six graduate from Glory Secondary School added that her passion is in entertaining people, and although she has always wanted to be a professional singer, she has been discouraged by many people who say she cannot sing. More about Nishimwe Hobbies: Singing and entertaining people Role models: My parents. They encourage me to be a better version of myself. Fondest childhood memory: The time I said ‘hi’ to a thief. He had come to rob my auntie’s home one time when I had visited. Some of us had slept in the living room and upon seeing him, I just shouted ‘hi’. He immediately put off his flashlight and walked away. Favourite dish: French fries and meat. Personal style: Casual wear (jeans, t-shirts, jackets, sneakers) Skincare routine: I drink a lot of water. I also use black soap and body cream on my skin.