Roxanne Didier Nicholas’ name isn’t unfamiliar on St Lucian turf, but lately she’s been making her mark on the regional pageant scene. No doubt pageant organizers from both the Miss Carival and more recently held Jaycee’s pageant were wondering what hit them when Roxanne emerged onto the stage glittering with confidence, her beauty and glamourous attire battling furiously against each other for the spotlight.
Roxanne was crowned Miss Carival in St Vincent the day before the St Lucia Carnival Queen show, and just as soon as she returned home it was full steam ahead with preparations for Jaycees. The pageant unfolding on Friday, August 3 and the results left much to be desired for some who attended.
With a marvelous all round performance on the night Roxanne placed second runner up and St Lucians weren’t the only ones who weren’t pleased. An article in the Antigua Observer described the way some members of the audience literally walked out of the venue when the announcement was made. Roxanne had won the hearts of the judges and the audience with a dance to Michael Jackson’s “Have You Seen My Childhood” and won both the Best Talent and Best Swimwear awards.
According the article a new system of judging was responsible for what played out at the pageant. In the new system scores from various segments are not combined to determine the winner.
“Those criticizing the new judging system felt the fact that the delegates went into the interview segment on a clean slate negatively affected the selection of an all round queen,” the Observer article read.
According to one contestant: “What was earned in the various segments in the battle among the final 10, had no value in the final leg of the competition that consisted just one segment—Interview. Each person has certain strengths and certain weaknesses and you have to look at how rounded the individual is by looking at all aspects of their being or performance. With this system, Jaycees organizers could have just forgotten about all the other segments, called the 15 of us on stage and asked questions because that’s basically how they determined the queen this year and we were the guinea pigs.”
On the Jaycee’s show controversy Roxanne commented: “A lot of people came up to me after the show and congratulated me, they thought I should have won. They said it was honestly my crown and all the contestants agreed I should have won, but the judges’ decision is final. I can’t do anything about it. I’m very happy I made people proud, proud enough that they thought I deserved to win.”
“It was a different experience from Carival,” she expresses. “I would have to say Carival was better for me not only because I won but the hospitality. I made a lot of new friends at Jaycees. Overall it was still a fun experience.”
There’s no doubt about it, Roxanne Nicholas shone on the night of the pageant as she does every time she gets on stage. The 20-year-old St Lucian beauty lives for the performing arts and has been dancing from the moment she learnt how to walk! Her progression into the performing arts begun at the Ave Maria School with Cam Dancers and later the St Lucia School of ballet where she says her training really started. She joined Avad Dance Ministry at the age of 11 and has traveled with the group numerous times to Caribbean territories like Trinidad and Barbados to perform.
“It’s been fun,” the light hearted Roxanne tells the STAR. “You learn different styles and techniques…”
Roxanne certainly was one to watch in her secondary school days, particularly on the occasions she took part in the Secondary School’s Drama Festival. Her talent was
unmistakable and her passion for self expression through the arts was apparent even then.
When asked what she loves about dancing Roxanne responds straight away: “What don’t I love about dance? That’s a better question,” she smiles. “Dance comes to me naturally and it’s just a way of expressing myself onstage. It allows people to read whatever emotion I’m trying to portray.”
Her boyish personality and versatile skills often made her the ideal candidate to fill the roles of male actors in school presentations, but Roxanne then is in some ways worlds apart from the one who’s now taking the pageant world by storm. However did she find herself in the addictive world of pageantry, where one dose of fabulosity and a win makes it impossible to walk away without another attempt at some other crown?
“I’ve realized pageantry is a great way to network and to meet different people in various aspects of the industry including designers and coaches,” she says. “It also helps with your confidence, esteem and interaction skills.”
Roxanne says her ultimate ambition in pageantry is to represent St Lucia.
“The two regional pageants I did, the fact that St Lucia had representation and apparently good representation, I got a lot of positive feedback,” she comments.
“I think my life would be much different if I hadn’t taken this route,” she says of her decision to immerse herself into dance. “I think my talent would have gone to waste and I would not have been offered the opportunities I have been since I decided to develop my dance training or enter the Carnival Queen pageant. From last year when I won I realized a lot of young people look up to me and it makes me happy that I can be an inspiration for young St Lucians.”
With so much happening in her life in the short period of a year we wanted to know what Roxanne felt about her own personal growth thus far: “I’ve never really been a shy person but when I’m thrust into new situations with new people I tend to be a bit reserved. Taking part in pageantry has helped me grow out of that. You definitely have to let your personality shine as soon as you reach wherever you’re going.”
Roxanne speaks positively about her carnival queen experience. With her 2011 title she was invited to a number of prestigious events, was a special guest at the islands’s independence celebrations and was given the honour of switching on the lights at the Festival of Lights. One of her most memorable moments: “Meeting Prince Edward at a cocktail at the prime minister’s residence!”
With all her queenly duties she also did some fund raising of her own, for a children’s home in Gros Islet. The former carnival queen says her outstanding experience and all the nostalgic moments made giving up the crown quite an emotional moment.
“Every day up until just before I gave up my crown I kept getting congratulations on winning Carnival Queen 2011,” she retells. “St Lucians were very supportive. I think they were very excited that I won because I did not change who I was after I won the crown. I still walk in town with my jeans, vest and Sebagos. I think because I’m a very down to earth person St Lucians have been very receptive. I really enjoyed my reign. I thought I would just be able to give up my crown but when I handed it over to Janelle Desir I was like Oh… my reign is over, that’s my crown. Being crowned carnival queen of St Lucia was such an honour.”
Her last walk as carnival queen was bitter sweet because she’d acquired the Miss Carival crown the day before giving up her crowning piece. During our interview she reflects on getting ready for all three pageants and speaks about the way she often found herself practicing while out with friends!
“I would go to the beach with friends and I would be rehearsing my swimsuit walk!” she admits. “Then I would check myself. I did that quite a bit. I was in pageant mode for about a month. I had the music for my talent on my phone so wherever I was I’d be listening to the song to get in the mood and mind frame because of the type of song it is and the type of emotion I’d have to portray.”
Never mind how random it may have been Roxanne says her friends were tremendously supportive—even in those moments when she’d spontaneously break out in full pageant splendor!
“They’re always supportive in everything I do,” she shares. “They were a little annoyed sometimes because I didn’t get to spend as much time with them this summer but they supported me 100 percent. Even when I was in St Vincent and Antigua they were all over Facebook promoting me, all over Twitter and BBM.”
Her mother is just as supportive, if not more so. Roxanne’s mother accompanied her daughter to both regional pageants and certainly is her number one fan!
“My dad would’ve come but he gets too nervous,” she laughs. “I wanted to take part in the Carival Queen pageant in 2010 but my Daddy didn’t want me to so I didn’t. He doesn’t really like the competition aspect of it because he get scared whenever any of my siblings and I take part in something. He doesn’t want us to feel bad if we don’t win. I wanted to take part because being in a pageant is different from just dancing and performing onstage.”
Roxanne says her parents were never overly concerned with the type of exposure that comes along with taking part in carnival related pageants. In 2011 she auditioned, then casually mentioned it to her father.
“He was like Rox, but I told you not to,” she admits with a smile. “Then he said, “I hope you’re prepared for whatever’s coming.” He was okay with it throughout the month of preparation and on the night he was very nervous.”
“My parents are very much into carnival,” she adds. “I’ve been jumping carnival from the time I was eight years old. Carnival Queen is a title that is so prestigious, they didn’t mind one bit. They were actually very excited about the swimsuit I went to Antigua with!”
Currently Roxanne is completing her final year of studies with the University of the West Indies (Bachelor’s Degree in Management studies). She’s not done with pageants just yet though. Roxanne is considering taking part in Miss St Lucia World 2013!
“I would like to take part in Miss World, if St Lucia would allow me to represent them,” she says, before ending our interview on just the right note: “If I could get a message out to young people I’d just like to let them know, it doesn’t matter what you want to do, as long as you set your mind to it, you can be successful. Even when you don’t reach the highest point of success you try and try again, you don’t give up. I’m just so glad I can be an inspiration to so many young ladies in St Lucia, young people overall!”