Amber-Lee Friis, the beauty queen who went on to become a finalist in the 2018 Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, passed away on Monday at only 23 years old.
The sad news was confirmed by the boutique talent agency that represented her, The Talent Tree, who wrote in a Facebook post:
“It is with immense sadness we acknowledge the sudden passing of a beautiful and talented Wahine Amber-lee Friis. Amber-Lee was one of our original Models for The Talent Tree and a finalist in 2018 Miss Universe NZ (Miss World New Zealand). Our sincere aroha and condolences to Amber-Lee’s family and friends. R.I.P beautiful lady.”
What a terrible and untimely loss for the beauty community and Friis’ family. She was way too young for her life to be cut short so soon.
At this time, very few details about the cause of her death are known. However, in a statement shared with People, the New Zealand Police Department confirmed they responded to a “sudden death” call on May 18 and that the death had been referred to the coroner. The Daily Mail has since reported her passing as a suicide.
Back when she ran for the Miss Universe NZ title, the former pageant competitor told a local outlet called Stuff about how she struggled with self-confidence for years before reaching a turning point and deciding to pursue pageantry:
“I remember sitting in my room one night and thinking how hard life could be. At a young age you feel the world is weighing on your shoulders. 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.”
Ugh. How sad…
Amber-Lee is remembered fondly by those who knew and worked with her including CEO of Miss World New Zealand, Nigel Godfrey, who described her as “a force to be reckoned with” in an emotional Facebook tribute post on Tuesday. He wrote, in part:
“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.”
The official account for Miss World New Zealand also wrote on its FB page:
“Our sincerest condolences to the friends and whānau of Amber-lee Friis, whom we have just learned from The Talent Tree has passed away. Continue shining brightly, Amber-lee, just as we remembered you.”
Very, very sad, indeed.
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