Tomorrow night, eight young women who each believe that they have just what it takes to be a queen both locally and internationally will vie for the coveted crown at this year’s Miss Guyana Universe Pageant.
The event which will be held at the Princess Hotel and Casino will see the girls competing in the swimsuit, and evening gown categories; the intelligence segment having already been dispersed with on Saturday last week.
In a recent interview with The Scene, Odinga Lumumba franchise holder of the of the pageant and proprietor of McNeal Enterprises – the label under which the pageant is held – said the event promised to be an exceptional one when compared to previous years.
He said that apart from the fact the contestants are all well rounded, the evening will have live entertainment from the popular Karma Band and performances from Guyana-born singer Aubrey Mann and lots more.
When asked to comment on the standard of delivery the audience can expect from the girls, Lumumba stressed that though he remains optimistic that the promising bunch would perform creditably, the most he can do is, “give the women an opportunity by putting them out there;” but that “they will ultimately have to use that opportunity to the best of their abilities.”
In addition to winning the crown, the lucky lady will also be representing Guyana at the Miss Universe Pageant slated for August 23 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas at an all-expense paid cost by the McNeal Enterprises of US$10,000 which covers both accommodation and food. The queen will also be presented by the franchise organisation with spending money and a ticket for two to Jamaica where she will be accommodated at the Pegasus Hotel. She will also win for herself $200,000. According to Lumumba, the winner will be the beneficiary of some $2.5 million in cash and prizes.
When asked about the support given to the organising committee by the wider community, Lumumba said that it has been both overwhelming and encouraging from sponsors and the corporate society as a whole as it has always been.
When this newspaper sat to have a chat with the Miss Guyana Universe hopefuls on Sunday after their photo shoot at the Princess hotel, though admitting that they were all exhausted owing to the rigorous training, their sentiments were all unanimous responding that they were having a fun time nonetheless as they bonded with each other.
Twenty-year-old Rushauna Harris, contestant number one who is a resident of Hadfield Street said she has always had an insatiable love for pageantry and attributes that passion to the inspiration for being part of the pageant. The young woman said she enjoys reading and interacting with people. When asked what she thinks is that unique quality she possesses that gives her the edge over the other girls to capture the crown, she said confidently, “I deserve the crown.” She explained also that she has experience having participated in the Miss Guyana Talented Teen Pageant.
She said also that she has a good chance of being the winner because of her height. She stands at 5’10½”.
Rushauna, who said her platform is truancy, revealed that, “after winning the crown I will work with the Ministry of Education and other officials to craft ways and means of keeping truants in school.”
Contestant number two, Grove resident Cindy Craig, 19, whose favourite pastime is reading said that her confidence will definitely allow her to surpass her opponents and take away the crown. She said she likes pageantry and decided to give it a shot.
A phlebotomist by profession, 19-year-old Melissa Carter, contestant number three, resides at Ramp Road, Georgetown. She said it was her workmates who encouraged her to be part of the pageant. “They said I should give it a try and so I decided to,” she said.
Like Craig, Carter also said that her confidence will put her in the running.
Contestant number four, Crystal Benn who said it was her mother who inspired her to take part in the pageant said that her beauty, charm, brains and sincerity will allow her to win the pageant. Crystal, a nurse of South Ruimveldt Park said she has a passion for children and enjoys working with them.
The eldest in the group, NCN anchor, contestant number five, 26-year-old Natasha Smith said she decided to be a contestant in the pageant because of her desire to be the first Amerindian woman to win. With climate change being her platform, Natasha who said that the crown belongs to her is planning to play her part as an individual to contribute to a change in the behavioral patterns of people and ultimately a change in the way we treat the environment.
Natasha, who said she is the most articulate in the group, told The Scene that she will win the pageant because she can better express herself.
Twenty-two-year-old Tamika Henry, contestant number six, said her inspiration to be part of the pageant was a decision she took to showcase that Guyanese and Caribbean women by extension are both beautiful and intelligent. She enjoys reading.
Jovial Xandra Pierre who is contestant number seven said she will win the pageant simply because she is charming and fun to be around. The 18-year-old who hails from the Pomeroon in the Essequibo said she is having lots of fun being in the pageant. Dealing with teenage pregnancy as her platform, Xandra said that by winning the crown she will be given an opportunity to establish counselling sessions aimed at dissuading teens from becoming pregnant, “before they are ready both psychologically and physically.”
Ogle resident Chrystelle Mervin, 18, is contestant number eight and her platform is the less fortunate. She said she decided to enter the pageant because she wanted to show that even the less fortunate can follow their dreams, coming from what she calls “humble beginnings and a less fortunate background,” herself. When asked by this newspaper what is the one thing they will take away from the pageant, the contestants said that they will definitely take away cherished memories and new friendships.