Jaimee Wiggins has had to overcome a lot in her life, but her biggest challenge awaits as she aims to win this year's Miss Universe New Zealand title.

The 21-year-old actress and model, who went to Otonga Rd Primary School and John Paul College, is in the top 20 of the competition after making it through a three-day "Stiletto Camp", where participants had workshops on make-up, grooming and media.

She is currently working on her "Ladies' Night" event, a fundraiser for Miss Universe New Zealand's chosen charity, Variety - the Children's Charity, where 50 per cent of proceeds go to charity and the other half to help Wiggins' campaign.

The fundraiser, known as the "Entrepreneurial Challenge", is a key part of the competition. The top two scorers gain immunity from elimination when the top 20 is whittled down to the top 10.

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Jaimee said she was "beyond determined" to win.

"I want this title more because I like the values of Miss Universe.

"All of the girls are fully there for each other. Everyone is so talented and so inspirational.

"We've lifted each other up so it's a real sisterhood."

August 4 is when Miss Universe New Zealand 2018 will be crowned and Jaimee Wiggins hopes to be the winner. Photo / Supplied
August 4 is when Miss Universe New Zealand 2018 will be crowned and Jaimee Wiggins hopes to be the winner. Photo / Supplied

Wiggins has had to endure a lot to get to this point, though. She said she was bullied as a child and young teen.

"It was awful what people did to me. But if I did what they did in return, then I would have been no better than them.

"And if you told anyone at school, then you would get called a nark.

"So I made a vow to myself - to be the best person I was going to be despite what people were doing to me."

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She said she was one of the lucky ones to "see the light at the end of the tunnel".

"I'm a naturally optimistic person so it stopped me from digging a hole."

Confiding in someone or ringing helplines might be difficult, she said, but not confiding was damaging.

"Keeping it bottled up is worse. There are helplines that people can ring - I've had to call them at times.

"They do help you through."

Being diagnosed with dyslexia while she was at John Paul College was another challenge, she said.

"The diagnosis made sense because academia didn't make sense to me.

"I couldn't write a sentence, I couldn't spell, I took a little while to process things people said."

Struggling with traditional subjects led her to an interest in the arts and she had not looked back.

"I have a theatre background so I love being on stage. I feel unstoppable.

"When I'm on stage, I'm happy, I'm smiling. It's something that everyone has within them," Wiggins said.

Jaimee Wiggins hopes to use the Miss Universe platform to help those who may be struggling. Photo / Supplied
Jaimee Wiggins hopes to use the Miss Universe platform to help those who may be struggling. Photo / Supplied

Competing in Miss Universe New Zealand had given her a platform to help others, she said.

"Everyone has their own battles to overcome so I want to be the person to help them.

"I'm more than happy for people to reach out to me."