By Zoisa Fraser
Putting the academic achievements and the fact that she is now a beauty queen aside, Miss Guyana Universe Tamika Henry is just an ordinary girl with a craving for the simple things in life.
“I think I am pretty simple. I am a simple girl who likes simple things. I like having fun!” the Queen’s College old girl told The Scene recently.
At last Sunday’s pageant, she showcased her ability to turn heads and she and her many supporters are counting on this ability along with her pretty face and intelligence, to help her do well at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, USA next month. The University of Miami graduate loves food, cooking and pets. She dislikes litter bugs, lateness and time wasting.
Earlier this year when she returned home, Tamika said, her sister encouraged her to participate in the pageant since it needed a facelift. “I always thought that I would do a pageant in Guyana but I was never motivated before,” she said with a smile. She later gave in, and at the last moment she handed in her application form. Two days later she was doing an interview and before she knew it, she was a contestant.
For her, she was always confident that she would do well but knew that all the other contestants had her confidence.
“All the girls were all talented, smart and pretty. They all had a good head on their shoulders,” she told The Scene.
The contestants only had two weeks to prepare, but Tamika said that was adequate and she is proud that so much was achieved in such a short period of time. She said that it was a hectic two weeks and expressed the view that this was one of the positives of the pageant as they had to support each other and it forced them to bond. It also taught them how to work under pressure, she told The Scene.
Tamika said that every day there were photo shoots, gym sessions and wardrobe planning. “It was fast paced and full of pressure but there was an awful lot of fun in it as well,” she added.
She said because of the good line up, more preparation time was not needed.
For her the most memorable experience was staying at the Princess Hotel, for two days leading up to the pageant.
The big night
Tamika had mixed feeling but once she hit the stage last Sunday night and performed the opening dance, all her nervousness vanished. Tamika told The Scene that in the hours leading up to the pageant that she ensured that she had a good nap and was relaxed.
According to her, once she became comfortable, she just started enjoying herself and feeling the music.
“I realised that I am going to be the one wearing it. I am going to be honest, I am not a fan of dresses but I wanted to be sure that I was going to be comfortable in the gown before I wore it so we had a lot of consultation about it,” she said. In the end she loved the gown and had fun wearing it on stage. Tamika was also awarded the Best Gown prize.
Among her prizes is an all expenses paid trip to Jamaica, cash and jewellery.
Tamika thanks God, her relatives, friends, sponsor Forest Enterprises Limited and all those in the pageant world particularly Deryck Moore for their support. She also thanked the franchise holder Odinga Lumumba for giving her an opportunity to be part of the pageant.
Tamika has several weeks more to prepare for her next big night and she told The Scene that she intends to pass the time, toning her body in the gym and carefully planning her wardrobe.
Tamika – the model
Tamika loves modelling and easily captured the attention of the audience on pageant night as she glided effortlessly across the stage and catwalk. She revealed that while in Miami, she gained quite a lot of experience in modelling.
“I love performances. I love being on stage, dancing, public speaking, so I feed off of the audience,” she said.
“Modelling was never my thing,” she recalled, but a friend approached her to do some modelling for charity and she was loved. After that she began doing more and more until she mastered the art perfectly. “I was reluctant but I was encouraged. I was told that I was good. I just did it for the fun of it but apparently I was good at the runway. I think it more or less came naturally,” she chuckled.
She entered the Ms Diamond Scholarship pageant held at her university and placed second runner-up. She explained that this pageant is laid back as the students compete for the scholarship prize which is to be used for purchasing text books and meeting other school needs. The queen reigns for one year during which events for the school are planned.
She said she had more fun in the local pageant.
Be a dreamer
A smiling Tamika who is the youngest of four children said that women who possess beauty and intelligence should be role models to others. “I think that if you are given those qualities it is not for your benefit; it is to help someone else.”
Tamika said people should always be dreamers, noting that Guyanese in particular tend to settle for mediocrity. She explained that in most cases we don’t try mostly because there is no encouragement.
She added that we all must have “these big, bright, ridiculous dreams and work hard towards achieving them. That is what I try to do”. She opines that pageants are a good way to get exposure and experience. She admitted that in the past the face of pageants has been tarnished but believes that it is up to stakeholders to bring it back to what it should be.
Pageants weren’t meant to be derogatory, she said but should be prestigious.
For her it is the beautiful, talented young women who could bring pageantry back to the standard it ought to be.
Tamika grew up in Tucville, Georgetown and has always been active in her community.
She said that being the youngest child she was always pressured to do well academically.
“We had it a little bit tough growing up. We had our hardships but along the way my parents worked very hard. They made so many sacrifices for me and my other siblings and of course we had help along the way,” she added.
She said that she is very active in her church – House of Prayer, Tucville Assemblies and has been working with youth tackling issues such as abuse and promoting racial equality. She is also involved with the Rights of the Child organisation.
Commenting on furthering her education to become a forensic scientist, she said that she intends to do that but right now she is concentrating on Vegas.
“I do intend to continue studying. I think I am more of an academic person before anything else, so I don’t want to be away from school for too long and I do want to solidify my career some more.”
Tamika has a BSc in Forensics. (email@example.com)