Former King Solomon High School student Jessica Simmons has made the British final of this year's Miss Universe competition.
Miss Simmons, 24, beat hundreds of contestants to secure the spot in June's three-day final, which will see her compete against 39 other women for the crown.
The dance teacher, who attends New Gants Hill Menorah Synagogue in Essex, said dancing and modelling had helped her to gain the self-confidence to take part in the competition.
"I have struggled, especially when I was little. I was very quiet. As I got older, I looked into dancing and built my confidence and, after years of wanting to, I signed up for Miss Universe.
"I feel really lucky. It's an amazing feeling and I'd like to inspire other girls who have in the past struggled in the past with their confidence.
"I've always loved to do that. To see them achieve their goals - it makes me want to achieve my goals."
Miss Simmons, who trained at the prestigious Italia Conti dance academy and is also part of an all-girl band called Alfee, said it would be "incredible" to win the tournament.