Following last month’s untimely passing of co-franchise holder of the Miss Jamaica World competition, Aston Cooke, there have been necessary changes in the entity’s leadership structure. While Weston Haughton retains the franchise holder position he assumed last year, he has now partnered with media personality and thespian Dahlia Harris. Additionally, in honour of Cooke, the theme of this year’s coronation show will be Jamaica Jamboree, reminiscent of his 2013 production, Junkanoo Jamboree.
For 2019, it will be an event with a difference as the franchise holders have introduced changes to their sectional awards by adding Most Improved and removing the swimwear segment.
“We removed swimwear from the pageant because Miss World hasn’t done swimwear for five or six years. But we do other things,” Haughton said during the media launch of Miss Jamaica World last Thursday at The Jamaica Pegasus’ Talk of the Town.
An award has also been introduced for the contestant with the best personality. “You can’t teach personality. You haffi bawn with it,” Haughton said.
Other familiar awards will return, including Most Congenial, which will be selected by the contestants, and Most Photogenic, which will be judged by this year’s franchise photographers, Dash Photography. There will also be the Golden Scissors Award, for which furniture store Singer will donate a refrigerator and a television to the designer of the best gown and another prize to the wearer.
Those agitated at the removal of the swimsuit section can find solace in the fast-track competitions, which guarantee the winners a spot among the top 10 finalists. These competitions are Miss Jamaica World Fitness, sponsored by Spartan; Miss Jamaica World Top Model, sponsored by Maxie Department Store; Miss Jamaica World Talent, sponsored by Phoenix Theatre; Miss Jamaica World Beach Beauty; and Miss Jamaica World Beauty with a Purpose, sponsored by Kool 97 FM.
“Beauty with a Purpose is really important to Miss World and to us,” Harris stated. “Last year, we had persons working in development areas in Jamaica who wanted to judge Beauty with a Purpose,”
She explained that the judges were looking at sustainable projects, which is why she encouraged one of last year’s contestants, Jana Hinds, to make a submission to the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards. She was selected as a nominee. “It wasn’t just something she did for the show. It was a community project she did over time,” Harris said.
“So you see, Beauty with A Purpose really has a purpose,” Haughton remarked.
Last year, Harris played a major role in the pageant’s organisation and reportedly pushed a number of contestants to achieve beyond the coronation stage. According to Haughton, last year’s talent winner, Shanique Salmon, was also encouraged by Harris to enter the Songs of the UK competition, and she subsequently placed in the top three.
Harris revealed that she intends to continue introducing new ideas that can positively influence young women beyond the stage, even years before they enter the competition. “One of the things we want to do is to launch a Miss Jamaica World mentorship programme. We want to identify young women in their communities, whether it be their school or the community in which they live, who are already actively involved in projects. We want to say to them, ‘There are different types of beauty’,” she said.
With prominent past winners like Cindy Breakspeare, Lisa Hanna, Terri-Karelle Reid, Yendi Phillipps and Dr Sarah Lawrence, Harris said she hopes to have an arsenal of accessible mentors for young ladies across the island. More details will be available after the programme is officially launched later this year.
Miss Jamaica World eliminations will begin on July 21 at The Jamaica Pegasus. The 16 finalists will then be sashed on July 29. Beauty with a Purpose projects and proposals must be submitted by September 11, and the winner will be announced on coronation night, September 21.
Although applications to enter are not yet open, Harris reported that the franchise has been fielding entrants since last year’s winner was crowned..“The minute Kadijah was crowned, applications have been coming in ever since. We haven’t even opened applications. This morning, I saw one that had come in from Colombia. So Jamaican women all over the world are eager to be a part of Miss Jamaica World. Kadijah has really inspired a lot of people,” Harris said.