Shaunice Griffith, Miss Holetown Queen of the Festival 2017. (Picture by Shaka Mayers.)
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Shaunice Griffith doesn’t want to be seen as a pageant girl. After all, entering three of them isn’t too much in the grand scheme of things – based on the island’s make-up.
The Miss Holetown 2017 wants to be seen as beauty with brains.
The aspiring criminologist at the University of the West Indies wants the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of her island. She also made that speech in the question and answer segment at this year’s pageant.
The former student of Westbury Primary, Alexandra Secondary and Christ Church Foundation told EASY magazine her degree would enable her “to work with relevant agencies to eradicate gun violence and violence on the whole.
“I have seen first-hand the issues they have caused in our society and I believe I have an obligation to speak on the problems, and hopefully my platforms I have access to can help.”
Shaunice who was the Face of Cave Shepherd 2016, was also Miss Christ Church Foundation in 2015 and second runner-up in Barbados Talented Teen 2015.
“I am kind of shy, so I use these pageants to expose myself more. I welcome the criticism and the positive feedback. It was also to showcase my talents. It was really to challenge myself. When I won the first pageant I said, “Okay, I can keep doing this’.
“I get really nervous every time. But I use the nerves to propel me. The adrenalin makes me excited and I just try to put my best foot forward at all times.”
Shaunice is heavily into the arts. A member of New Dimensions Eagles she has won medals at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts in dance, she has a distinction in music from the London School of Music.
Shaunice was the youngest person in the Miss Holetown Pageant at age 17.
“I wanted to be the youngest winner. I went in to win. I knew it would be challenging. But I look at my dedication to anything I do as my hubris.”
Shaunice had to attend various events before the pageant and some prejudging. She got extra training, especially in the dreaded question and answer segment.
‘I always used to feel that was my least good segment. My nerves would kick in and I would struggle to answer my questions, But Sharon Sargeant helped me a lot. I focused on developing my answers, finding my points and then expanding.”
Shaunice’s talent for the pageant was a spoken word piece. She had it written from last year August. It was about All Lives Matter and she dealt with all the “isms”.
“I want us treat each other better as individuals. See ourselves as equally capable of achieving anything we put our minds to . . . . So that was just my message in my piece.”
In the audience on the night was Shaunice’s mum, brother, friends and close relatives. Wearing a Lucy Lui gown in the colour of her birthstone, she took to heart the advice to “stay calm”.
From opening segment, through swimwear, talent and gown, she wowed the audience with her charm and smile.
“I said I wouldn’t pressure myself as that sometimes makes you not give your best. I said I was going to have fun, even with winning in mind.”
Shaunice revealed that she got a little worried at the end when the names were being called for runners-up and she didn’t hear hers.
“I was, like, ‘I didn’t even place’?”
But she kept the smile on her face and it turned into tears when she heard her name announced as the queen.
“I was, like, ‘Whew’,” she said, laughing.
While the pageant comprised six girls, she grew extremely close to Kaitlan Marshall and Alicia Lloyd, with daily conversations even though the pageant is long gone.
She called the pageant a learning experience, from which she also won the Miss Punctuality, Personal Style and People’s Choice categories, and said she would encourage more ladies to enter.
“Just wearing the title of Miss Holetown means so much. There is a history behind Holetown. I would like to go into the schools and encourage the young girls about entering. I really learnt a lot when I entered the pageant . . . . Learning about the first settlers and so on. I want more publicity for the festival. Yes, it is only for a week but I want to expose it more.”
As part of her winnings, Shaunice will be representing Barbados at Miss Jaycees in Antigua in July next year.
The beauty grew up in a single parent home, seeing her mum work hard to provide for her and her older brother Sean.
Her mum runs a salon, and Shaunice helps out most times when she is not hanging out with her friends.
“I am still Shaunice at home. I do not get any special treatment. I still have to do chores. The crown isn’t worn at home. At school I am treated as regular Shaunice.”
Shaunice said she was happy to make her mum proud, making up for her mum, Sandra Yearwood, not taking the crown in the same pageant in 1989.
Sandra, who was at the interview, said she was also very proud of her daughter’s accomplishment.
“I know that while she is young she is very capable of doing what she puts her mind to. I am happy to be with her on this journey.” (NS)