Representing my country has always been a dream for me. Though the route it has taken was not my choice, through it all I have learnt and grown and met the most awesome souls along the way..
My mom reminded me the other day, that I had told her while still young, that I will be the first female tourism minister (that didn’t happen) but, I still haven’t given up the dream of using the gifts I have, to work for Jamaica, my heartbeat. (maybe Senator…what you think?)
So, what had happened wuuuz…I was approached to enter Miss Jamaica World; me, tomboy Roxene, who stress out her mother when it’s time to comb my thick maroon hair 😔 always climbing trees, running tyres and building juice box trucks. I remember one Saturday evening after a day of hard, sweaty playing, this ‘dirty, chip up’ person, passing my mother in the hallway, she shaking her head and saying to herself, “I know I left the hospital with a girl”.
So, my transformation actually began a year before the pageant which was held in 1990. I was still not sure about entering so I took my time to get prepared as best I could; I started working out for the first time and after the initial ‘pain up’ I grew to love working out, even till today; learning to apply makeup (which I still cannot do so well, but I managed); then personal grooming (waxing/shaving, sweet Jesus! ) and knowing how to style my hair, ugh!!! (notice how my hair is always pulled back in one 🙂 )
The brain ole, so I do not recall all the details of elimination into the top 18, but I made it, duhhh. But what I do remember, is that it was a whirlwind of intense preparation leading into final night. Filled with voice and speech sessions, learning the ‘pageant walk’ and of course getting up to speed on current and international affairs for the interview segments, to be able to strike up conversations when we were on the different engagements as finalists. We never knew who the judges were until pre-judging, so at any event at which we were guests, any one of the persons engaging us in conversation could be a judge. Knowing that, we made sure to always be on point in everything, from head to toe.
There were many memorable parts of the pageant and one was travelling the length and breadth of Jamaica. Any former pageant entrant can correct me but I believe in our year, 1990, we went to almost every parish in Jamaica. I met some incredible people and the experience with the girls is something I have always cherished. I have kept in touch with a number of the girls to this day; my pageant roommate Cheryl Gore, Kay Chin (who went on to be Miss Jamaica Bikini and Miss Body Beautiful), Jillian Henry, Hillary Henry, Bridgette McDonald and all the other awesome ladies.
One lifelong friend who to this day calls me his right and left hand, is Weston Haughton. He was and still is the creative mind behind the Miss Jamaica pageants. With Weston, you never know what the theme will be each year, just that it will be unforgettable. In my year we arrived at the National Arena via a cruise ship (yes mi dear! ) it was exciting, we were met by the Captain and serenaded by cabaret singer Nicky O.J.
Did I tell you I was contestant number 13? Well it became a thing after I was sashed. Bless their hearts, Dorraine Samuels (sleep in peace, she always encouraged me when I started my journey in media) and Allan Magnus always said ‘Lucky number 13’ when they introduced me. I loved that. There were moments during interviews that I was told “you are good looking for a black girl”, (still don’t know what that means) but I took it in stride, said thank you and kept going, absorbing the experience that no one can ever take from me.
I had entered the Pulse Fashion Model pageant in 1988 as I was gonna be the next Iman (sashay Shonte, finger snaps in a circle, guurl! 🙂 )and in early 1990, I entered the Miss Universe Bikini and the Miss Spartan Body Beautiful so I was quite comfortable being on stage by the time I got to the competition on September 1.
I say with pride that in all the competitions I have entered I have made top 10 and or top 5. I won the semifinal of Miss Cactus Bikini and have trophies and medals for stage presence and poise.
My pageant days are behind me, but never forgotten as they helped to shape, figuratively and otherwise, the woman I have grown into today. Even though I retired from entering pageants, I am now pageant coach and chief chaperone of the Miss Jamaica World Pageant and have been blessed to still be able to work with such beautiful ladies as they pursue their goals and dreams of representing this beautiful and blessed piece of solid rock… my home, my heart JAMAICA.