POINT Fortin beauty Yolandra John left Trinidad on January 7 to represent TT in the Mrs World beauty pageant.
A glamorous ceremony is scheduled for Westgate Resort, Las Vegas, on January 15, for the crowning.
Founded in 1984, the pageant was especially designed to celebrate the uniqueness of married women and their families.
Originally, 75 married women were slated to compete this year, but only 58 delegates who have survived covid19 and US restrictions imposed against countries on its blacklist, remain in the competition. Mrs Brazil World delegate tested positive on her departure date last week.
John, a flight attendant with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is accustomed to having her head in the clouds. This time around she is hoping to soar to greater heights with her eyes focused on winning the enviable crown.
After 25 years in the industry, representing the country at numerous local and international competitions, including the Miss World Pageant, she is ready to bid farewell to active competition.
While final results has placed her in the top three slots at previous competitions, capturing an international crown has eluded her. At this, her last hurrah, she is hoping she will bring the curtains down, with this aspect of her career, with the prestigious and elusive crown on her head.
Prior to her departure, John spoke with Newsday about her dreams and aspirations, including a desire to become a national director for the Mrs World pageant.
“I will continue being the franchise for the Miss Point Fortin Carnival Queen competition and pageant organiser for other shows, but this is definitely my last competition.”
While beauty competitions have attracted a lot of negativity, John said it has empowered her and brought a sense of joy, fulfilment and achievement.
The mother of three – two biological and her husband’s son – said she would not be the person she is today without that aspect of her life.
A former teacher, journalist and now a student of pharmacology, John defended pageants saying it is not just a shallow parade of women in swimsuits and gowns.
“It is an empowering place for women and a stepping stone to greater achievement. The camaraderie, the friendship that exists among women competing against each other is unparalleled.”
It has brought her unimaginable growth and pushed her in the forefront as a brand ambassador for her country and people.
In this role, she is meeting the pandemic challenge head on to continue promoting her country as a tourism destination.
As the pageant opens doors for her, she too is opening doors for others, especially young women – two of whom have travelled with her to Las Vegas.
They are hairdresser Marissa Edwards and make-up artiste Maya Marcelle who is only 17. Both are from Point Fortin as well.
“Point Fortin has so much talent and it is my intention to utilise that talent, especially of our youth. By empowering myself I am also able to inspire other people, young women in particular.
“For Maya and Marissa this is their first international pageant and they are very excited for the opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Her daughter, Alyssa Jackson, 11, reigning Miss Princess to Queen TT, 2019, is also one of the young women she has inspired.
Motherhood, she said, is a role she takes seriously and her children are her greatest cheerleaders.
Asked if winning the title will conflict with her maternal duties, she said with her varying and packed agenda over the years she has learnt to multitask.
“Being a mother is a critical role for me. Every child/mother relationship is vital for healthy development.
“My family comes first. As a flight attendant, being away from home so much I have learned how to juggle and manage both roles.
“Being a queen would entail commitment for about a year, but with the pandemic some of my duties may be done on line.
“This would also be a critical year for Alyssa who is writing Secondary Assessment Exams (SEA). She is my primary focus. I am also studying pharmacology, which was my first love, but was shelved due to unforeseen circumstances.”
She admitted some concern about the effect of the pandemic on the pageant, which saw the postponement of the Miss World competition to March as some of the contestants, including TT delegate Jeanine Brandt, contracted covid.
“During these uncertain times, this could be very daunting and worrying. While I am anxious and a bit afraid, I will do my best to practice all the health protocols and stay safe.
“I am going with confidence.”