Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Surge of support for Fennell

Published:Sunday | January 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

Jamaica has never won the Miss Universe competition, but came very close in 2010 when Yendi Phillipps placed second. This year, many eyes are on Kaci Fennell, who has been getting a lot of support locally and internationally.

Since arriving in Miami for the competition last week, Kaci has gained almost 5,000 new followers on Instagram. Her pageant pictures are also being posted constantly on Facebook and Instagram and have become the profile pictures for several persons on these social-media platforms. And her name is constantly being mentioned on Twitter.

In addition, in its people's choice poll, a Facebook page, Miss Universe Poll Fanpage, has Fennell at second with 119,000 votes behind Philippines with 140,000. On YouTube, she has also been racking up thousands of views for her official Miss Universe interview.

she'll bring it home

Kim Fennell, Kaci's mother, says she is blown away by the support her daughter has been receiving on her Miss Universe journey. "She stands an exceptional chance. She is going to bring it home," Kim Fennell said excitedly.

"I feel excited, proud, overwhelmed and anxious, and all of those good things. She is doing well and she is loved."

Although very close to her daughter, Kim Fennell said her conversations with Kaci have been minimal since the competition started. However, she is very pleased that it is only because of Kaci's heavy involvement in the competition.

And it is that involvement which has been helping the 22-year-old model gain support.

However, Kim Fennell said some family members are disappointed that they will not be able to root for Kaci in person at the Miss Universe finals which will be held at the FIU Arena in Miami on January 25, as tickets for the event sold out days after they went on sale. While there will be some family members present at the finals, Kim Fennell said many will have to make do with attending the preliminary competition and national costume show on January 21, for which tickets are still available.

In addition, the public can show support for the beauty queen by attending the Miss Universe viewing party at Triple Century Sports Bar in New Kingston at 7 p.m. on January 25.

Jacqueline Jackson, marketing and sales director and pageant manager for Miss Universe Jamaica, says she is not surprised by the level of support Fennell has been getting, based on the work that was done leading up to the event. She added that the young model's charity, Style For Change, her personality and overall appearance have propelled her in the Miss Universe competition.

At this point, Jackson says Kaci only needs to remain calm, maintain her composure, and remember that she is a huge part of Brand Jamaica. With that, she believes Kaci's chances of winning the competition will continue to improve.

"She is doing great. Her photos are amazing. I think she is a good contender for the crown. She has all it takes to do that and it would be the first Miss Universe crown for Jamaica," she said.

Kaci's best friend, Candice Belnavis, said Fennell has always wanted to be a model, but over time wanted to do more, and the pageant was the perfect platform.

"I am definitely seeing a huge amount of growth in her speech, confidence and how she carries herself. I believe she is going to do very well," Belnavis said.