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Beauty with brains

Natasha Beckles

Beauty with brains

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Zhané Padmore wanted to be in winners’ row.
And in the months and weeks leading up to the Miss Holetown Queen of the Festival Pageant, she went through intense preparations.
Last Sunday the 19-year-old saw the fruits of her labour as she not only walked away with the title, but won prizes for Miss Photogenic, Best Talent and Public Speaking.
The newly-crowned queen told the WEEKEND BUZZ she was preparing for the question and answer segment since October. She also did a lot of rehearsals outside of those organised by the Holetown committee.
“At one point I said to myself I believe that pageantry is all I think about.  I wake up, I think about questions. I think about how I would be on the night. If I’m not thinking about question and answer, I’m thinking about my dance. It was always on my mind,” she said.
The former Harrison College student is not new to beauty contests. Although she did not place when she competed in that school’s pageant, she was spotted by pageant promoter Sharon Sargeant who urged her to compete regionally.
She entered and won Ms Easterval 2012 in Union Island and now she hopes to compete in other regional pageants before entering Miss Barbados World. She is already scheduled to compete in the PJD2 Caribbean Pageant in St Maarten in April.
“I love being on stage. I just love the feeling of it. I love to perform and I love that pageantry gives you an opportunity to mix beauty and skill as well as to showcase your intelligence,” Zhané said.
 The dancer impressed both the judges and the crowd on pageant night with a modern and Afro-modern fusion.
   “I wanted to change it up from the average performance because I’m a ballet dancer initially but I decided to go out of my comfort zone,” she explained.
   Choreographed by Aisha Comissiong, it portrayed the strength of a Black woman.
   “The first part of it was more about the rigours of being a woman and coming from slavery and not being able to express yourself because you were oppressed.  
“It evolved from there to a more liberated side and women being able to express themselves. I had a little piece where I kinda did a clash with the drummer . . . and that was basically to say well, I can do the same thing that a man can,” she said with a smile.
Zhané admitted she had some reservations about performing the piece: “I was like how is the Barbadian public going to take this because I’m a brown skin lady . . . . Some people may just be like ‘you’re not Black’ but yes, I am Black.”
Zhané is a “girly girl” who is into clothes, hair and make-up, but as a former national swimmer she knows that physical appearance isn’t all.
“I believe that preparing for pageants is just like being an athlete . . . . It is definitely more on the mental side because you go through so many things, whether it be preparing for the interview segment or even dealing with the different personalities of the contestants. You have to be able to handle whatever is thrown at you.”
Zhané, who is studying management with a concentration on entrepreneurship, believes that beauty pageants is not given enough attention in Barbados.
“In St Kitts you have girls doing pageants from a very young age and they take pageantry very seriously as a way of developing the youth.
For Zhané, pageantry is an art form which allows young people to showcase their talents, share their opinions and express their views on current affairs.