Twenty-three year old model and account student Jillian Grandison talks exclusively about being crowned the winner of the 19th Miss Jamaica UK beauty pageant.
Why did you enter Miss Jamaica UK?
I was scouted by June Daley, the President and co-ordinator of the pageant and as a proud Jamaican (born and raised) I decided that it would be a good experience for me to take part and also because I wanted to win so I could use the opportunity to promote Jamaica and Jamaicans in a positive manner here in the UK.
How did you feel when you won?
The moment I heard #12 (which was the number on my sash) being called out my heart started beating uncontrollably fast and then they called my name. It was such a surreal moment; I was bursting with excitement and couldn’t stop smiling. I was elated and very proud of my achievement. It was a brilliant experience and I’m happy my family and friends were right there with me to share my moment, which made it even more special for me.
Why do you think they choose you to win?
I think I was chosen to win because the judges felt I delivered on the night based on the criteria they were asked to judge and I was chosen not only because of physical beauty but also because of my stage presence, poise, charisma, intelligence and personality which was portrayed through my speech which was also very eloquently delivered.
What does it take to win a pageant?
To win a beauty pageant you must first of all be comfortable just being yourself which will in turn show your level of confidence. One must also be poised, very well spoken with a charismatic stage presence.
What do you plan to do now that you’ve won?
Now that I’ve won I plan to use my title as a platform to promote Jamaica in a positive manner and also to gain recognition of issues affecting our young black community and I will be helping a few charities to generate funding.
What have you done since you won?
It’s been a month since I’ve won, but so far I’ve been to quite a few events and met some Jamaican dignitaries. I’ve also been working on my 2009 Charity calendar, which will be out by the 15th of December. All proceeds will be presented to charity (From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation, based in Peckham, South London and The Early Childhood Education, based in Kingston, Jamaica)
What field would you like to get into?
I am currently studying for a degree in Management Accounting which is initially my chosen career path; however I am also a part-time model and would also like to continue pursuing my modelling career and hopefully winning this title will open-up a few more doors along the way. I am also open to new experiences so who knows, maybe I’ll find interest in another field and decide to pursue a new path in the future.
What have you made of the media’s representation of Jamaicans here In the UK?
It’s quite sad to see that Jamaicans here in the UK are represented negatively most times by the media. There are so-called ‘bad’ people everywhere, from every nationality, race and class; however I think the focus on Jamaicans here in the UK is sometimes, down to them being misunderstood. I admit that some of my fellow Jamaicans can be a bit more outspoken and their approach can be a bit more abrasive than others, but there are a lot of Jamaicans here in the UK that have quite a lot to offer to society and have been doing so for many years without any acknowledgement. We have a saying in Jamaica, ”we likkle but we talawah” which basically means we are a very small Island but with an immense effect on the rest of the world, whether it’s through our music, our food, our athletes or just our ‘patois’ we have the ability to make an impact everywhere we go and unfortunately the good comes with the bad, but it would be nice to see the media focusing on the good we have to offer rather than the bad.
Your dress on the night was fabulous? Who was the designer?
I loved that dress; it was designed by the fabulous Kimalie Darlington from KD Designs.
What was the best part of being in the contest?
I enjoyed being in the contest, meeting the other beautiful girls and just the experience on a whole, but for me the best part was being crowned.
What are your plans for 2009?
For the year ahead I plan to continue my studies and also continue with my charity work and In general doing my duties as Miss Jamaica UK, undertaking allocated tasks, going to events and meeting more influential people. I also have a free trip to Jamaica, which is part of my prize.
I’m sure the fellas would like to know if this beauty queen is available? Do you have a boyfriend?
lol… no, I’m single at the moment.
Are beauty pageants out dated?
I don’t think beauty pageants are out dated rather I think that they have been up-dated. They’ve come a long way from just the stereotypical ‘pretty face’ to the focus being on intelligence.
What’s the best thing about being Jamaican?
For me the best thing about being Jamaican is having such a rich heritage and remarkably strong and exciting culture, with the best food, music and overall talented, warm-hearted, friendly and fun-loving people (regardless of what the media says).
Interview by Annika Allen