The beauty pageant community is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Former Miss Universe New Zealand finalist Amber-Lee Friis passed away earlier this week. She was 23 years old.
“It is with immense sadness we acknowledge the sudden passing of a beautiful and talented Wahine Amber-lee Friis,” The Talent Tree shared on Facebook. “Amber-Lee was one of our original Models for The Talent Tree and a finalist in 2018 Miss Universe NZ (Miss World New Zealand).”
The boutique agency, which represents a tight-knit community of talent, added that “our sincere aroha and condolences to Amber-Lee’s family and friends. R.I.P beautiful lad.”
Soon after the news was revealed, many in the pageant world began expressing their condolences to the model.
“Our sincerest condolences to the friends and whānau of Amber-lee Friis, whom we have just learned from The Talent Tree has passed away,” Miss World New Zealand shared on Facebook. “Continue shining brightly, Amber-lee, just as we remembered you.”
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CEO of Miss World New Zealand, Nigel Godfrey, also shared fond memories of the talented finalist.
“She was a force to be reckoned with,” Nigel recalled. “She was feisty, definitely took no prisoners, but she was a beautiful soul and you 100% knew what you were getting. She was genuine, honest and she had an energy few others possess, her heart was most definitely in the right place. We liked and respected her and were very proud to call her a friend, long after the competition had finished.”
“Amber Lee turned her life, and indeed her experience with us around, and into an incredibly positive force for good. In the years since she has been loyal and supportive and we value that above anything. Tragically she passed away yesterday, the world is a lesser place without her in it,” Nigel continued. “She had a great deal more to give and it is a dreadful tragedy that she won’t be here to realize her unlimited potential. RIP Amber Lee you have left us far, far too soon”
Details surrounding her death remain limited at this time. E! News has reached out to police for any additional information.
Although she found success in beauty pageants, Amber-Lee previously opened up about up being bullied during her childhood.
“I remember sitting in my room one night and thinking how hard life could be,” she once shared. “At a young age you feel the world is weighing on your shoulders.”
Amber-Lee continued, “I was like a lost sheep before I started writing down goals and started focusing on what I wanted to do. I felt stuck and helpless. No one ever has to feel that way.”