Last Friday, August 18, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the Miss Universe Bahamas Toast to the Queen & Delegates Debut Champagne Reception. It was held at the beautiful Cafe Channing Noelle/Shimmer and Sparkle Lifestyle in the Caves Village on West Bay Street.
The event, hosted by Rissie Demeritte, began with an interview with the 2016 Miss Universe Bahamas, Cherell Williamson. She spoke about her reign, the continuation of her contract with The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, and how the pageant has helped her to break out of her shell and gain confidence. Although she did not place, Williamson represented The Bahamas extremely well at the Miss Universe competition in the Philippines.
Williamson wore a floral embroidered cold shoulder jumpsuit by Theodore Elyett.
Current and former beauty queens such as Geena Thompson, the newly crowned Miss World Bahamas 2017, Celeste Marshall, Miss Universe Bahamas 2012, Daronique Young, Miss World Bahamas 2012, as well as Erika Adderley, Miss Universe Bahamas 2016 2nd Runner Up, were in attendance.
My floral striped dress and black heels are from ohsheque.com (Bahamas), and my straw bag was handmade by Cleola V.
In addition to attending the reception, I also got the opportunity to accompany the contestants on a boat ride to Rose Island with Seahorse Sailing Adventures. It was there that I got to know the young women a little more.
Meet the contestants of the 2017 Miss Universe Bahamas Competition:
The youngest contestant vying for the Miss Universe Bahamas 2017 title is Miss Grand Bahama, Tiasha Lewis. She just graduated from St. George’s High School in Grand Bahama as salutatorian, where she also served as head girl.
A delayed flight out of Freeport forced Lewis to be late to the champagne reception, but she made it in time to introduce herself to the remaining guests and socialize with the other contestants. I get the impression that Lewis likes to have fun, as she had no problem dancing to her favorite songs played on the boat, while many of the other contestants stayed in their seats.
Danielle Gaitor, a Spelman College graduate, is an aspiring doctor. While at Spelman, she studied Biology and has presented her research on cancer biology at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Washington, D.C., Gaitor, an Andros native, has traveled to various countries including Panama, where she participated in a Medical Brigade, providing medical care to the less fortunate.
Ever fashionable, Gaitor has worn Bahamian designer, Theodore Elyett, to all official Miss Universe events and activities so far.
Miss Blue Water Pools, Gabrielle McIntosh, a Grand Bahama native, was the first to arrive at the port for the boat excursion. McIntosh, who has been an athlete most of her life, traveled to Nassau to compete in the Miss Bahamas Universe pageant. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from St. Francis University, and one day hopes to create a fitness clothing line.
Miss Governor’s Harbour, Ashley Hall hails from Eleuthera. Hall is passionate about empowering young women. She has been volunteering for most of her life, and credits her aunt who she lived with in Eleuthera for teaching her how to to live an unselfish life.
After the boat excursion, Hall could be seen packing away tupperware and trying to “tidy up” even though it wasn’t her job and no one asked her to.
Miss Frank’s Auto Body Service & Repair, Colina Kenny, is no stranger to the pageant world, as her older sister has competed in a pageant before. Kenny says that ever since she was a little girl, she always wanted to compete in a pageant, and she saw now as the perfect opportunity to do so. Although the shortest, she is as confident as they come.
Kenny holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from the University of The Bahamas.
Miss Island Luck, Yasmine Cooke, is a pre-medical student at the University of the West Indies. When she arrived at the champagne reception, I noticed that she wasn’t wearing heels like the other ladies, and had a cast on one of her big toes. When asked about her injury, Cooke said that she was injured trying to help her mother who was in distress.
Cooke is no stranger to the world of fashion/beauty and has been modeled for brands such as Dklypse Swimwear, and was named 2nd runner up in the Miss Uwiverse, The University of the West Indies’ Beauty Pageant.
Miss Caribbean Sweat Fitness, Sasha Anderson, is a health and fitness enthusiast and it definitely shows on her body. She was one of the first to strip down into her bikini, lying off on the boat.
Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from The University of The Bahamas.
Five out of the eight ladies competing have natural hair, Anderson being one of them. She is the only one with locs, making her stand out among the other contestants. She wore her locs in bantu knots for the champagne reception, but wore a ponytail on the boat ride. Her locs are majestic!
Lastly, Miss Crowned by Faith, Azaria Clare is a medical doctor who plans to specialize in Gynecology. She has been participating in pageants from 2008, being crowned Miss Global Bahamas 2009 and Miss Global International 2009. She has also participated in the Miss Universe Bahamas pageant in 2010.
Because she works in Freeport, Clare takes frequent trips to Nassau to attend official pageant events. Her parents and siblings are very supportive of her efforts to win the crown, and her father could be seen excitedly snapping photos of her at the champagne reception.
Can we please get into Tiasha Lewis’ cousin’s ‘fit of the night. I’m loving the monochromatic look. Yes!
The ladies in this pageant debunk the belief that women who participate in beauty pageants are shallow. All of the women, with the exception of Tiasha Lewis (because she just graduated high school), are college educated or in college. They are well-spoken, their subjects and verbs agree, and they are beyond confident.
I love seeing beautiful women who can speak well and hold a conversation. I had conversations with just about all of the contestants and they seem to have beautiful souls. They interact well with each other and have fun. After Lewis had arrived late to the champagne reception, Gaitor walked her around the room, introducing her to attendees.