17-year-old Michael McLauren is Mr. Independence. The Ciceron resident was crowned on Friday February 7, at the National Cultural Centre and he calls it “a dream come true.”
“I wanted to do the pageant since last year,” the effervescent teen told YO! in an interview on Monday February 10.
“Unfortunately, I was too young,” he added.
He seized the opportunity when it arose in 2020 and he hasn’t looked back since. Michael walked away with three gold trophies (Mr. Independence, Best Performing Talent and Best Promotional Speech) and a scholarship from Monroe College by the end of the show.
Already, the future is looking bright for the fifth form Ciceron Secondary School student and he couldn’t be happier.
“I was excited about going up because I knew I was capable. I have been a chaperone twice at the Miss Ciceron Pageant and both girls ended up being queens,” he revealed.
Although it seems like he’s been on a winning streak of late, this wasn’t always the case.
According to him, “when I had just entered secondary school, I participated in the Mr. and Miss Ciceron Pageant; I did not place. I was unprepared because I didn’t know anything about pageantry; I did not even have a chaperone and I did everything on my own!”
“My Mr. Independence experience was a lot better. I liked the journey because I got a lot of exposure and it was a journey where I could just be myself and step outside my comfort zone. I used the platform to bring awareness especially to younger men like myself and to Saint Lucians in general. I focused on dialogue and cooperation. (We need to) get along to bring unity instead of division and separation,” he added.
Now, he has a bit of experience underneath his belt and he’s ready to take on the world. He loves being on stage (it’s his home!) and Michael, who was the youngest contestant at the Mr. Independence Pageant, is looking forward to doing it all over again.
“I want to take part in the Mr. Caribbean Pageant next year,” he said optimistically.
“I love theatre arts and public speaking. I also have my own dance group in Ciceron so I’m used to being on stage,” Michael added.
According to their Facebook page, “the Mr. Caribbean competition was born in Dominica in 2014; the competition targets the 18-45 age group and features contestants in talent, swimwear, costume, formal wear and interview segments.”
As for those who believe pageantry is strictly for females, Michael says think again.
“Most times boys my age would not want to go up for pageantry or would think twice about it.(By doing this pageant) I just wanted them to see that you’re capable of doing anything despite your age or background. You could step outside your comfort zone and participate in activities where you could market yourself and be a better person,” he said in closing.
Mr. Independence Results
2nd runner up: Joshua JnBaptiste
1st runner up: Daniel Joseph
Mr. Independence: Michael McLauren