This year’s Independence pageant had a twist—the pageant, which usually features new faces, was a ‘Queen of Queens’ show.
Four young women who had participated in the event before, and emerged victorious, would be competing against each other in the most elegant manner, and one, later, would be crowned the ‘Queen of Queens’—the best of the best.
The pageant, (a Gregory Lorde production), took place on February 21, at the National Cultural Centre.
Chelsea Toussaint (2007), Syma Faucher (2009), Anya Edwin (2013) and Pauline Francis (2014) were “the lovely four”.
The girls appeared in six segments namely: introduction, promotional speech, motivational segment (which replaced the talent segment), evening wear and interview.
The judges would have a hard time deliberating some agreed, as the girls all brought their A-game—they were experienced after all.
Though the segments were all pleasing, it was the motivational segment that stood out most. It was a new addition to the pageant and possibly (locally), the first of its kind. In this segment, the girls sat across each other on stage and had to inform the audience on how they would help dysfunctional youth; the question was posed by host Herma Demacque, a former Miss Independence contestant and runner-up, and ‘The Wave’ radio personality.
According to Gregory Lorde, the girls, initially, were to converse with each other and present their solutions. However, the approach changed ultimately. But unlike the interview segment where most responses (arguably) sound rehearsed, this segment required girls to speak as if they were having a conversation in a natural setting and go in depth with their answers.
The theme for this year’s pageant was ‘Reflections of our Commonwealth, values and principles’. Each contestant was given a ‘value’ which they were required to speak on in their promotional speech and were later questioned on said value in the interview segment.
The values for this year’s pageant were: empowerment (Chelsea), equality (Syma), democracy (Anya) and dialogue (Pauline).
The pageant, unfortunately, was poorly attended; attendance has been an issue for the past few (consecutive) years. The organizer is hoping to improve the situation, however, by implementing new methods, which according to him, he will soon be working on.
In the end, it was Anya Edwin who was declared ‘Queen of Queens’; the first and only runner-up spot went to Syma Faucher.
The newly crowned queen also walked away with the prizes for Best Promotional Speech, Best Evening Wear and Best Interview (an award she shared with the runner-up—the tie was a welcome surprise for both the audience and contestants).The runner-up also walked away with the prize for Best Discussion (motivational segment).
But though it was Anya and Syma who stole the show, the other contestants, (luckily), did not walk away empty-handed; each contestant received a scholarship thanks to Monroe College and Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute.
In an after show interview, Anya who stumbled (just a little!) in the early stages of the show, informed reporters that this year there was added pressure as the event would determine who was the best of the best; the victory she said, undoubtedly, was a special one.