Twenty-three-year-old Kara Lord sashayed and answered her way to the Miss Guyana Universe crown yesterday morning.
It was a stunning result as she had not been seen as one of the pre-contest favourites but she seized every chance presented to her on Saturday night at the Princess Hotel.
The show started more than an hour and a half late and didn’t finish until yesterday morning.
There was a twist this year in the number of finalists, as the panel of judges was unable to decide upon just five. So they settled for six: Madonna Ghanie, Judith Sullivan, Ayana Harris, Lord, Seromanie Choomanlall, and Roshini Boodhoo.
In an attempt to mirror the routine of the international Miss Universe, the Miss Guyana Universe committee had the girls strut their stuff on the catwalk as their filmed introductions played on screen. However, despite being given almost one hour and a half extra there were still some mix- ups with the tapes and the sound. Either the girls weren’t properly rehearsed and so failed to wait their turn, or the tape was going too fast for them. When one delegate was almost off the stage, then her intro began and sometimes there was an intro being played for one delegate as another was onstage, therefore making it hard for some of the audience to determine who was who. The only contestants whose introductions were played on schedule were Lord’s and Diana Hussain’s, the former waited by first working the stage well then standing at the end of the platform and gyrating to the music. The technical team clearly did not do their job well, as there were also problems with the music throughout the show and only one microphone was available.
The event was hosted by DJ Casual and a woman who goes by the name of Dorrette and who later revealed that she had drunk a little too much, which only confirmed what the audience suspected, as she mispronounced some of the girls’ names, spoke a tad too much and even proceeded to say that one of them [Ghanie] “will one day make someone a good husband”.
From the inception, Harris and Boodhoo were the crowd favorites, the latter more than the former, but after the swimsuit segment, it was Ghanie who won over the crowd with her even-toned skin and curves in all the right places. This later earned her the Body Beautiful along with the Best Smile special prizes, causing her supporters to think she’d go all the way, only to be disappointed after she failed to deliver during the final question segment.
Following Anesha Benjamin’s appearance during the swimsuit segment, the proceedings were interrupted for the second time by the rain [the first time being right after Jamaican artiste Chris Martin did his first performance for the night]. Rain during the show caused the larger section of the audience [including the VIPs] to scatter for shelter and then return to their drenched seats to wipe off the water before being seated. It was during this same swimsuit segment that a cleaner from the hotel had to be summoned to mop up the water from the stage and catwalk in order to prevent the girls from slipping in their heels, which still ended up happening anyway. As the cleaner made her way onstage, she was met with a host of cheers. One gentleman even proceeded to assist the woman with her mopping, entertaining the crowd as he danced and mopped. As Cynthia Singh showed off her voluptuous body clad in swimwear, the tipsy hostess in her remarks about the delegate read “she was born under the sign of zodiac”, while Choomanlall apparently thought that it was not important for her to be under the judges’ scrutiny, as she passed them without stopping on the runway.
During the evening gown segment, Ghanie again passed with flying colours as her lovely, embroidered red and gold outfit hugged her figure, prompting sounds of approval from the audience. Lord’s outfit was also a crowd pleaser as well as Boodhoo’s. However, it was Singh who gained the audience’s undivided attention – a point at which a dog also wandered near to the stage – with what she thought was an evening gown but was really a black lace get up which looked more like negligee. Even the judges seemed to be in shock, and one was seen with his mouth agape for some time as she passed them. Choomanlall then appeared, and this time someone in the audience exclaimed “oh lord god is another disaster”, as her outfit was a multiplicity of ties and wraps, strappy shoes and all. Harris was the only one who exuded the grace that was needed for the displaying of an evening gown, and this gained her much approval from the crowd.
Following the announcement of the top six finalists, all the previous scores were erased, and the winner was determined by the answer to the final question, which was: “If you were the president of Guyana, what would you change about your country?” The first finalist Ghanie boldly stated that should she become president she would change nothing in the country as President Bharrat Jagdeo was already doing everything “perfectly.” Her answer left the audience speechless for a while and it came as no surprise that the beauty, after copping the two special prizes, failed to gain a place. Sullivan, who was next in line, stated that as president she would change the way the country is viewed worldwide and she would put the country on the map by developing tourism among other areas. This answer, which to many in the audience was a bit off target, earned her the position of second runner-up. Harris’s response that she would focus on the educational system and on the children, who are our future, divided the audience on the appropriateness of the answer. However, she did manage to clinch the third runner-up position.
Choomanlall, when questioned, stated that she would “like to change the fact that this country is lack of employment opportunities”, and this, though marred by her English, earned her the first runner-up position in the pageant. Lord’s response proved the best of the rest, as she stated that she would strive towards harmony in strengthening Guyana‘s population because there is not much unity in the country. She added that cohesion among all people would portray the country’s motto: ‘One people, one nation and one destiny.’ After having worked the stage with so much vivacity and bounce, the almost always beaming Boodhoo’s smile withered following her response to the question, which was that she would work on promoting her platform which is breast cancer. This eventually caused her to fall to fourth position, much to the dismay of her many fans. The Miss Congeniality prize was given to an astonished but happy Anesha Benjamin.
Apart from Christopher Martin, who later returned onstage to serenade the girls [and who managed to elicit a smile from the then unsmiling Boodhoo], the audience was also entertained by Ravi B, Nesha B and their new addition to the Karma Band, Mr Renzo, who performed some Latino music and wowed the crowd with his hot salsa foot movements. However, as the almost disgusted and tired audience was half asleep, it was Ravi B who returned to the stage as the judges were discussing their final decision and reawakened them, not with his singing but by taking a plunge into the hotel pool in only his pants and socks, much to everyone’s astonishment. There were also two red hot [literally, as they were dressed in red] dance performances by the Classique dance group.
Among the prizes was a $50,000 voucher for the queen and $25,000 each for the 1st and 2nd runners-up, compliments of Kings Jewellery World; $50,000 for the queen, $15,000 [1st and 2nd], and $10,000 [3rd and 4th] from Glamour; $50,000 for the queen from Palm Court; a gift certificate for the queen from Clairans; a one-year membership for the queen from Buddy’s Gym; dinner for the top five from Water Chris; and a trip to Kaieteur Falls for the top five runners-up.
The event was judged by Paloma Mohamed [chief judge], Richard Younge, Joel Gansham, Basil Joseph, Shamane Joseph, Sandford Solomon, Seeta Shah Roth, Steve Ninvalle, and Hisaun Nandlall.
Lord will be representing Guyana on the international stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil come September 12.