Miss Universe Jamaica selects Top 16
16 applicants selected to ‘rise to the challenge’, says director
Mark McDermoth, Miss Universe Jamaica (MUJ) co-national director, says that the execution of the pageant has gotten more difficult, especially as the country continues to face the global coronavirus pandemic. “As it does, more than anything else, the past year has taught us that we need to ‘tun we han’ and mek fashion’. It’s very difficult in times like these, even more now when the sponsors are crying – a matter of fact everybody is crying. We are seeing that we have to plan more and in greater detail,” he told The Gleaner.
Sixteen contestants were selected on Saturday at a private elimination session held both virtually and face-to-face at the AC Hotel Kingston.
As Jamaica adapts to strict health and safety protocols, traditions like the MUJ pageant must find ways to grow and make a far-reaching impact. “It has made us better on all levels. We are more in tune with our unit ... and working closer and more creatively together. We have members of our team like Natalie Morris and Soyini Phillips, who are doing well in their respective regions to meet the main goals of the pageant, and while we are rising to the challenge, the 16 applicants selected [on Saturday] are expected to do the same and rise to the challenge,” McDermoth said.
The five regional title winners – Miss Universe Jamaica Central, Daena Soares; Miss Universe Jamaica East, Trishani Weller; Miss Universe Jamaica Northwest, Jianna Thompson; Miss Universe Jamaica Northeast, Trudy-Ann Peart; and Miss Universe Jamaica West Chavelle Kavanaugh – who were selected prior to Saturday’s face-to-face eliminations, were all present to introduce themselves to the judges and collect their golden tickets.
The applicants chosen to receive one of the remaining 11 golden tickets, which were issued by the reigning Miss Universe Jamaica Miqueal-Symone Williams, were Lloyd-Ann Daley (selected from the set of applicants based overseas), Lauren Less, Lincia Haughton, Kaydean Sterling, Aaliyah Barnett, Thalia Malcolm, Keronica Lewis, Avery Campbell, Francine Grant, Titania Mycko, and Kimmarie Spence.
McDermoth said that the challenge is not only for the fittest of contestants, but for the ladies who can become true icons of the future and realise their dream of representing Jamaica globally.
“We are excited about the training programme. Last year, we had supermodel and renowned Runway and Pageant Coach Lu Celania Sierra, and we are bringing her back this year for general training of the contestants. It is going to take intense training and grooming, and not all will make it to the sashing. The live challenge that is coming up will narrow the field down to 10,” he said.
“Of course, taking note of one of our mantras that the pageant must enhance lives, we have upped the ante with the altruism programme. Last year, the host hotel had a programme with the Ministry of Health, where we went into the community, and now, the contestants will have an opportunity to go into their communities to make similar impressions. We have to ensure we work in a way that the programme enhances lives,” McDermoth continued.
For its 70th-year milestone staging, the Miss Universe Organisation has announced that the pageant heads to Israel this December when the current Miss Universe, Mexico’s Andrea Meza, will crown her successor in the southern resort city of Eilat. American television personality Steve Harvey will return as host for the three-hour event, broadcast live on Fox in the US and globally across 180 countries and territories.