Sun | Dec 9, 2018

Festival Queen Winner Ready To Effect Positive Changes In Jamaica

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2016 pageant winner, Kyesha Randall at the Gleaner on Thursday August 11, 2016.
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2016 Kyesha Randall being crowned by last year’s queen, Chereese Ricketts.

The curtains may have closed on the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen pageant for 2016, but the hard work for the freshly crowned Queen is just beginning.

In case you were worried about whether the woman that walked away with the prestigious title was ready for the challenges ahead, don't be. The Sunday Gleaner sat down with Kyesha Randall just days after she copped the title in a fierce battle that took place at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre last Sunday, and she revealed her readiness to effect positive changes in Jamaica using her new platform.

The vivacious 25-year-old spoke of her undying love for Jamaica and how that love influenced her decision to enter the competition. Beaming with pride for both country and self, Randall told The Sunday Gleaner that Jamaica had a special place in her heart, but she believed that there were too many young people in the country who did not know what their purpose was and the latter is as she believes it, and this was the root cause of the many issues affecting Jamaica.

"I think one of the many problems that we have is the issue purpose. Too many people are walking around not knowing why they are here. We also get too caught up with the now, and wanting things right now that we do not understand the importance of hard work, dedication, and staying true to self," she explained. "We also need love. Most of the times you don't find that in the homes, and that causes a breakdown in communication, which leads to a breakdown in the wider society. Respect and purpose is what we're missing here."

Randall wants to use her platform to help more young people realise their purpose, hoping that it would have a ripple effect on the other problems facing the country.

"I want to reach the young people where they are, so with my platform, I'll be targeting social media," she said. "I want to change the whole atmosphere on social media surrounding Jamaica and what we stand for as a people because there are a lot of things going around on social media that don't show what we're about. I want people to catch on to posting positive things, especially the young people. I want to go in with something that will challenge people to challenge themselves to do better and be better."


Randall is no stranger to pageants, having entered both the Miss Jamaica World and the Miss Jamaica Universe competitions before. Those experiences, no doubt, prepared her for the competition, but Randall revealed that the Festival Queen pageant was no walk in the park and was by far the most challenging of all her pageant days.

"I've entered pageants before, and this one was my hardest. There is so much information in this competition. You don't know what you're going to be asked at any point in time and you must be able to have intelligent conversations," she said. "You're meeting the governor general, the prime minister, etc, and they ask questions. You're not just a pretty face that walks into a room. People in this pageant want to know what you're about, what you're doing in your community; how you plan to shape Jamaica and its culture, so you are on your toes all the time in this competition."

While making it clear that her opinions were not geared at stereotyping other pageants, Randall said that the Festival Queen competition was focused more on a woman's brains and not her body.

"People call this the 'intelligent people competition', and it's not a stigma we are shying away from because you want women with brains to be the focal point of empowering women in Jamaica," she said, explaining that the other pageants focused more on beauty.

"People look at the JCDC competition versus a Miss World or Miss Universe and say, 'A pure ugly girls or fat girls enter the JCDC', but we have come to a point in culture where we are targeting the Jamaican woman and what she stands for, so it's not about your looks. It's about what you bring to the table."

Though she walked away with the ultimate prize and the sectional award for Most Culturally Aware, winning was no easy feat for Randall, who admitted that it was a battle to the end.

"The ladies in the competition this year were some brilliant ladies. These are women who know what they want, so you're on the stage on final night not knowing how things would turn out," she explained. "In the end, everyone was happy with the results, even those who didn't make it to the top five because we formed a bond, a sisterhood, that supported each other. So everyone was genuinely happy."

Looking forward to her reign, Randall expressed excitement about kick-starting her projects especially within her parish of St James.

"My specific project is called Motivate MoBay. It's really a project that raises awareness for culture, so we're going to establish a performing arts programme where we will invite persons from different fields who have done well, and have overcome adversity to speak to children from different schools across the parish."

Randall also hopes to expand the project beyond Montego Bay diving her tenure as queen. The outspoken yet humble queen is hoping that when her reign comes to an end next year, she will be remembered as the queen who inspired a nation.

"When I hand over this crown, I want to be a household name. I want people to remember that I was a young, strong, black woman, who inspired people. I want people who are thinking that there is no getting out of the place they are in, to look at me, know my story, and see that things can get better."