Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Miss Universe Jamaica eliminations today - Largest number of applicants since 2013, says franchise holder

Published:Saturday | October 24, 2020 | 12:16 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
From left: Shanique Thompson, Miss Universe Jamaica Central; Soyini Phillips, franchise owner, Miss Universe Jamaica Eastern; Alexia Royal Eatmon, Miss Universe Jamaica East; and Iana Tickle Garcia, Miss Universe Jamaica 2019.
From left: Shanique Thompson, Miss Universe Jamaica Central; Soyini Phillips, franchise owner, Miss Universe Jamaica Eastern; Alexia Royal Eatmon, Miss Universe Jamaica East; and Iana Tickle Garcia, Miss Universe Jamaica 2019.
Miss Universe Jamaica 2019 Iana Tickle Garcia is serenaded by singing sensation Gyptian during last year's Miss Universe Jamaica pageant.
Miss Universe Jamaica 2019 Iana Tickle Garcia is serenaded by singing sensation Gyptian during last year's Miss Universe Jamaica pageant.
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With beauty pageants and related activities barred under existing COVID-19 protocols and quarantine rules, Miss Universe Jamaica (MUJ) franchise holders are taking the necessary steps to find this year’s queen, and the response has been second to none with over 90 applicants.

“This is the largest number of applications we have received since acquiring the franchise,” said Mark McDermott, one of the MUJ national directors and franchise holders. He added, “It is ironic, being that it is the most we’ve ever had, and during a pandemic, for that matter, but it is also the smallest number we will choose to run the competition.” Last year, approximately 45 applications were received.

Five regional queens have already been selected. Miss Universe Jamaica East Alexia Royal Eatmon, Miss Universe Jamaica West Ashanti Findley, Miss Universe Jamaica Central Shanique Thompson, Miss Universe Jamaica Northeast Samantha Williams, and Miss Universe Jamaica Northwest Lineisha Davis have each secured an automatic placement in the national beauty, fashion, and wellness pageant.

From the private eliminations that take place today, ten ladies will be selected to compete, making a total of 15 contestants vying for the 2020 crown. The applicants include Jamaican women based not only locally but internationally. “A few arrived from the US and have been in quarantine,” said McDermott.

Eliminations consist of two rounds. The first is an interview in business-casual attire, and the other is swimsuit modelling. It will be executed in rotations of 10 applicants per session. “We have organised the eliminations taking into consideration the restrictions due to COVID-19, and likewise, the finals will be a virtual event,” he shared with The Gleaner.

He indicated that the franchise is committed to hosting the competition virtually and that all plans for the event, which is slated for the end of November, are on track and in line with global standards. However, details will be announced at a later date.

McDermott, along with his business partner, Karl Williams, with whom he owns couture fashion house Uzuri International, acquired the MUJ franchise in 2013.

“There is a lot to look forward to. Starting with today’s interviews, we will see who receives a silver ticket in the first round and then see who will be successful in earning a gold ticket to be one of the finalists,” McDermott explained.

The franchise holders have repeatedly said that their mission is to make a meaningful contribution to the pageant landscape with regard to the local competition, and the move to have a virtual staging of the grand coronation, McDermott said, has provided them with the scope and flexibility to meet their goals.

Rather than apprehensions, he said, “We are extremely excited because, to be honest, it presents us with a lot of opportunities for a very rounded competition when we add all the different elements into one.”

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com