Saluting Sharon’s success
Talent, intelligence and confidence are key traits of any good queen, and Sharon Sargeant, the woman who has moulded many a queen, is royalty in her own right.
The local franchise owner of Barbados Talented Teens (BTT) said she has been in the pageantry business for two decades. To her, pageantry struts far beyond walking on a stage and wearing a pretty dress – it’s filled with life and career opportunities and self-development.
“I don’t know if pageantry chose me or I chose it, but I am here with it now,” she said.
In the last ten years, she chaperoned local girls to regional shows in hopes of capturing coveted crowns. She got a taste of the industry when designer Clayton Maynard asked her to assist a young lady he had designed for in the Miss Bikini Barbados competition many moons ago and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since working with young people and catapulting them to reach their pageantry goals, she tries to encourage them to understand they are valuable.
“I want to help each young person to recognise that they are important and that anything is possible as long as they give it a try and believe that it would work. Through working with young people I help them to believe in themselves because my working with them will not help them to gain self-confidence; they have to first believe in themselves in order to get that self-confidence.”
Sargeant, who has assisted her protégés in regional competitions in islands such as Union Islands, Carriacou, Curacao, Antigua, Anguilla, and British Virgin Islands (BVI), is also a judge for shows such as British Virgin Islands’ Miss Teen BVI, and St Vincent’s Miss Heritage beauty pageants.
Initially, the franchise holder began taking her girls to the Digicel Haynes Smith Caribbean Talented Teen (CTT) pageant in St Kitts.
While there two years ago, she realized entering them into regional shows meant they needed to have a local show of their own. The other girls at the show had the advantage of formal training and competing in a local pageant of some sort. She decided to give her girls that plus as well, and so BTT was born.
She explained that pageantry is a labour of love and dedication. “It is a lot of hard work day and night. If I enjoy anything, for sure it’s pageantry and I am at my best when training. I love to work with young people. I don’t only train them for pageantry; I train them for life as well.
“We have a family setting and I see them as my own children and for them I know I have become like another mother to some as we have become very close,” the mother of none said matter-of-factly.
Sargeant’s franchises include Miss Aquaval and Miss Petite Martinique and Whitsuntide in Carriacou, Miss Easterval in Union Island, Miss West Indies in French St Martin and Miss Caraval in St Vincent, along with BTT.
She encourages all the contestants in BTT to strike a balance and explained that having a talent is very important but to complement their raw abilities, they must excel academically.
She explained, the contestants go through seven months of training they and are taught to balance academics with etiquette, walking and public speaking.
Since training for this year’s pageant began thee contestants gained exposure by appearing at several cultural events such as the Prime Minister’s Crop Over Reception, Soca Royale, ScotiaBank Junior Calypso Monarch and tours of Atlantis Submarines and Harrison’s Cave.
The training also consists of a developmental attachment programme, in which each contestant is paired with an upstanding person in the community. The BTT committee views that person as a positive influence to offer guidance. The delegates will put their poise, pizzazz and wits to the test on October 24 when the pageant comes off at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
When asked how long she foresaw herself continuing to head BTT, she smiled and said, “I can’t say when I would ever stop; I would leave that to the Almighty.”