Advocacy, training and appearances keeping Miss Universe Jamaica Miqueal-Symone busy
24-y-o to compete in 2021 Miss Universe pageant May 16
Miqueal-Symone Williams is stunning, articulate, determined and resolute, knowing all the while that she wanted to represent Jamaica in the Miss Universe pageant. But it hasn’t been all sashes and scripts for Williams, who first stepped into the pageantry spotlight in 2017 and later took a step back to heal after the tragic loss of her mother.
On her return to the pageant stage in 2020, she was crowned Miss Universe Jamaica. As she prepares to head to the grand coronation of the Miss Universe pageant in Florida, Williams said she is ready to bring Jamaica and her philanthropic efforts (raising awareness on mental health, with a focus on children) to the attention of the world.
Last year proved to be eventful for Williams. She also graduated with honours from The University of the West Indies with a Bachelor of Science degree in management studies and a minor in psychology. She has been utilising her educational background in her work with children. Amid her busy training schedule, she has also had to adjust to the pandemic. “It has certainly affected my ability to perform outreach, but it has not stopped it,” she told The Gleaner.
One of the activities the Miss Universe Jamaica 2020 has found joy in throughout her reign is mentoring children. “As a child, I looked up to several people in my life, and it is their advice and encouragement that helped me to become the woman I am today. I’m committed to inspiring more and more women of the future, and the girls at the Wortley Home for Girls are passionate with big dreams and bright smiles,” Williams said as she spoke about her outreach. Jamaicans will see bits and pieces of this in a special Journey to the Crown mini-documentary to be aired on Flow 1 TV in May.
Extremely organised, Williams has been balancing her time between advocacy and appearances but is primarily dedicated to helping the girls at the Wortley Home with homework, and sharing her love for cooking and baking as well. What she loves most about her role at the home is forming a relationship and bond with the young women. “I try to spend as much time with them as I can, baking and cooking. I absolutely adore them and will forever be in their corner,” she said.
Likewise, forming a sisterhood with other contestants vying for the Miss Universe crown is of utmost importance to Williams. “The Miss Universe pageant brings together women from different cultures who are like-minded in terms of our drives to succeed and our altruistic natures, so I’m sure I’ll make many friends. I am looking forward to meeting the other contestants,” she said.
As the reigning Miss Universe Jamaica, she is now preparing for an even bigger stage — the realisation of a dream nearly five years in the making. She will participate in the 69th Miss Universe competition on Sunday, May 16, which takes places at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. “The preparation has been gruelling,” said Williams, but at the same time, “so rewarding”. She has also been in dialogue with past title holders, including the most recent Iana Tickle Garcia, Miss Universe Jamaica 2019; Kaci Fennell-Shirley, who represented Jamaican in the 63rd annual Miss Universe Pageant and placed fifth; and Nadine Thomas, Miss Universe Jamaica 1997.
From as early as 2017, the glamour of pageantry caught the attention of Williams who started her modelling career with Pulse Modelling Agency around the same time. Over time, she became captivated by the opportunity to hone her skills, become more self-assured and mentally strong, and share her voice on societal issues and altruism with a wider audience.
She revealed that she has been heartbroken by the news of Khanice Jackson’s murder, pointing out that “she represents so many women and children that we have lost in our society”.
Williams added, “As someone who has been impacted by crime with the death of my mother, I truly sympathise with everyone who has lost women in their lives due to crime. As a society, we need to hold our citizens, especially our men, more accountable, whether they are our friends, brothers, uncles, employees or co-workers. Sexual assault is becoming too ingrained in our culture, and I think one of the best ways to solve this is with more sensitisation.”
She believes our society needs to have more serious conversations with children at home and in schools about what is and what is not appropriate sexual behaviour. “I have faith that we can tackle any issue with determination and support. To anyone who has lost their daughter, mother, sister, cousin, aunt or friend to violence, know that love is never lost or destroyed and let’s keep that legacy alive,” Williams said.
The Miss Universe Jamaica 2020, who celebrated her 24th birthday on April 1, has been taking a measured approach to her reign. This pursuit is important for the beauty, who wants to use the platform to further the causes dear to her. “I want to use the Miss Universe platform to shed light on the mental health issues that children face and how important it is to give them the tools to cope with their lives. Very frequently, we invalidate how they feel because they are not considered ‘adult issues’. I want to show as many children as possible that their emotions are valid and that they are loved and worthy,” she said.