As with every year that we actually have a contestant in an international beauty showcase, pageant lovers, and people who really have nothing better else to do, will find themselves glued to the Miss Universe finale this weekend. This year the island is represented by Louise Victor, a woman who is no stranger to the beauty stage, who has also made a name for herself in the realm of youth advocacy (she’s the immediate past president of the National Youth Council). With numerous other educational and professional accolades under her belt, Louise seems just the right woman for the job.
It’s been three years since Saint Lucia last had a contestant in the international Miss Universe competition – Roxanne Didier Nicholas in 2014 – and this year, competing in the Dark Horses category, Louise’s participation is a most anticipated occurrence. In the official introductory video for the event Louise speaks of her love for the Caribbean, and of introducing others to her homeland.
“When someone says I’m not sure where Saint Lucia is, or where the Caribbean is, being able to take them back to how the Caribbean was formed, that melting pot of cultures in having so many different ethnic backgrounds and so many other races that would have been brought to the Caribbean, and still being able to just celebrate who we are as West Indians . . . that is something that I pride myself on celebrating.”
At 26, Louise will be competing against 92 other pageant hopefuls from across the globe. Excitingly, there are several other island ladies to look out for this year, including Trinidad and Tobago’s Yvonne Clarke, Haiti’s Cassandra Chery, Jamaica’s Davina Bennett, Lesley Chapman-Andrews from Barbados, Khephra Sylvester from the British Virgin Islands, Anika Conolly from the Cayman Islands, Yasmin Cooke from the Bahamas, Guyana’s Rafieya Husain, Esonica
Veira of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Curacao’s Nashaira Balentien, Aruba’s Alina Mansur, and a host of other beautiful faces.
Into the 66th year, one might well wonder, what are the chances of a Caribbean woman winning the Miss Universe title? The odds are hardly in our favour, judging by early predictions on the Miss Universe website that put Miss France, Miss Philippines, Miss Brazil, Miss Peru and Miss Indonesia all somewhere in the top ten, with Russia, Mexico, Thailand, South Africa and Columbia in the top five. While speculations vary, Miss Jamaica is, at the moment, the only Caribbean name appearing in early predictions for top 25.
Though Caribbean ladies don’t always make it to the top five in the final pickings, the region still has a notable history of unforgettable wins. In 1977 Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad and Tobago was the first woman of African descent to wear the Miss Universe crown. The contest was held in Santa Domingo that year. Wendy Fitzwilliam would follow in her footsteps in 1998, and for her performance, simplicity seemed to do the trick, as did her willingness to roll with the punches, even when challenged to break out A cappella style during an interview segment, in a song of her choice, considering her love for singing.
“Nothing throws her,” commentators memorably said. Her wit, combined with “exotic and striking features” were used to her advantage, and that year Wendy was left standing with Miss Venezuela and Miss Puerto Rico. Still, with her alluring and unforgettable smile, she emerged winner of Miss Universe, with Miss Venezuela as first runner-up.
Authenticity certainly won that year as it was clear Wendy wasn’t trying to be anything less than her true Caribbean, easygoing self, down to her love for partying!
Her win is something the Caribbean hasn’t quite been able to replicate since. Of course, for an island girl to even be able to get as far as the international pageant stage is quite a feat. The challenges of winning the crown in this cash-strapped part of the world are no secret – it takes much more than beauty and brains to be a queen. Connections
help, as does ease of acquiring sponsorship.