Queen Davina returns to a warm homecoming
Miss Universe second runner-up Jamaican Davina Bennett arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday to a heartfelt homecoming orchestrated by Uzuri International Designs and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.
Though battling the flu, which came suddenly after the event, Bennett exuded poise, grace and confidence, which radiated during the press conference held within the Executive Pineapple Lounge at the Kingston airport. She was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from all in attendance and the welcome far exceeded her expectations.
Coach Karl Williams from Uzuri International Designs beamed with pride as he congratulated Bennett on her success in the competition. While Grange praised her on portraying authentic, natural beauty throughout the competition.
Bennett shared with The Gleaner her experience being in the competition.
"This journey was hard. There was a lot of gym time that I had to put in, along with dieting, speech training, training with Yendi in terms of stage presentation and runway. A lot of persons came on board. The whole experience was based on revamping my complete self to fit the part of a queen," she explained.
This helped to prepare her for the gruesome prep days of the competition that sometimes took her from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. At one point, she was uncertain if her body would hold up, but it did.
Bennett also admitted that the composure that many saw on stage was a bit of a faÁade, as she was nervous. The traditional tricks that people gave her did not quite work, but she developed some tricks of her own.
One thing that was not difficult for the queen was making friends. The bond that she created with many is one that she will hold dear.
PRAISED FOR AFRO
Several international magazines such as Essence and People praised Bennett on competing with her natural Afro and being crucial to changing the perception of beauty. This is something that she is proud of.
"I had the Afro before the competition and I decided that I was not going to change to fit the standard of beauty of how pageant girls should look. My hair should not be a barrier from succeeding in the pageant. I am happy that I made the decision to follow my mind," she explained.
While some believe that she was robbed of the coveted crown because of her Afro she disagrees.
"If it was the Afro or my skin tone, I would not have made it to the top 16. I would like to think my hard work and dedication allowed me to get this far and created the impact that I wanted," said the beauty queen.
When the cameras stopped rolling, Bennett received a standing ovation within the The AXIS at Planet Hollywood auditorium in Las Vegas, United States.
"I was on stage and I got the standing ovation, and everybody from the crowd was chanting Jamaica. That moment will stick with me forever," she beamed.