AN ACTRESS who helps underrepresented groups in the entertainment industry has spoken of her delight after representing Oxfordshire in a national beauty pageant.

Maria Middleton, from Oxford, whose credits include featuring in the Disney film Aladdin alongside Will Smith, and an advert for the NHS, entered the Miss British Isles contest after winning the Miss Oxfordshire Elegance crown.

To bag the Miss Oxfordshire Elegance title, Miss Middleton created a portfolio, which saw her judged on her previous work and experience.

The Miss British Isles contest, which took place at Chester Racecourse, represented the first in-person beauty pageant for Miss Middleton. And although she didn't come away with a trophy, she said it had been a great experience.

Oxford Mail: Maria Middleton, who won Miss Oxfordshire Elegance, entered Miss British Isles. Picture: Nick PriceMaria Middleton, who won Miss Oxfordshire Elegance, entered Miss British Isles. Picture: Nick Price

The 31-year-old, who lives in Rose Hill, said: “It’s been an amazing journey. I didn’t think I’d win the Miss Oxfordshire Elegance title so I was really pleased with that.

“For Miss British Isles, I had to go for a photoshoot with three different dresses and for the actual day on the runway, a cocktail dress and evening gown.

“I really enjoyed it and I was glad to represent Oxfordshire.

“I enjoyed the day and was happy to represent my hometown.”

Read also: How did Oxfordshire’s Miss England reps do in pageant?

Miss Middleton, a former Temple Cowley School pupil, said she particularly enjoyed getting to know other contestants.

She said: “I absolutely loved meeting different girls from areas across England – the girls are so beautiful, nice and outgoing.

“We had a contestants’ lunch which was really nice, as it was to meet people from different walks of life.

“It was very empowering watching all the women have the confidence to go on the runway and I’d definitely like to do more pageants, it’s something I really enjoyed.”

Miss Middleton’s roots however are in acting, having worked with the National Theatre, in addition to voiceover work for Aladdin in 2019 and appearing in the NHS ‘we are nurses’ recruitment campaign.

“I always wanted to do acting and modelling, and went to drama school at Drama Studio London,” she said.

Miss Middleton also founded her own charity to support and promote artists from minority groups, such as those from black and minority ethnic and working class backgrounds, as well as women in general.

Bashir Productions is named after Miss Middleton’s father, with 'bashir' translating from Arabic as ‘the one who brings good news’.

“Bashir Productions supports underrepresented talent in the industry, with agents and casting directors coming to watch our shows and showcases,” said Miss Middleton.

“It’s an opportunity for underrepresented groups to get recognition, chances and opportunities.

“People come from all corners of England to get involved and we’re like a big family.

“People always come back too, which makes me really happy as it means we’re doing something that’s worthwhile.”