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The different sides of Jalisa

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

The different sides of Jalisa

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LIFE IS NICE for Jalisa Alleyne. The 23-year-old student knows about not giving up – and that virtue has seen her accomplish goals. She is the reigning Banks Calendar Girl, having gone through the preliminaries, semi-finals and finally winning the title over seven other finalists last December.

Jalisa, sipping on a green smoothie, is getting her make-up and hair done for the photoshoot with the EASY magazine at Ocean 2 hotel.She is trying to convince make-up artiste Renee Ifill how healthy the drink is. “It tastes wonderful. Don’t let the green colour throw you off,” she stated. Jalisa is an avid fitness enthusiast, and said the body she has now is through proper diet and exercise. “I went to the gym twice a day. I went at 5 a.m. and back again at 5 p.m. I trained with Kenny from ABC Fitness centre. He is very, very good. I was surprised at the transformation of my body to be honest.”

Jalisa who is from Wellhouse, St Philip, now lives in Christ Church and works full time at Blades Trophies. She attended Christ Church Foundation and got her feet wet in pageantry when she entered and won Miss Foundation in 2009.

“I was a popular girl in school and one of the teachers asked me if I didn’t want to enter. I was nervous at first but I won. I also entered Miss Inter School the same year and Miss Communifesta while at the Barbados Community College.”

She said each was a different experience and she learnt from them.

“It really wasn’t about winning or losing; it is about growth.”

If at first you don’t succeed, take Jalisa’s advice: try again.

“I entered the Banks Calendar Girl competition in 2012. Made it to the finals but didn’t even place. But the organisers liked what they saw and offered me a job as a promotions girl for the brand from that time.”

Jalisa said the exposure she got from being a promotional rep worked for her.

“It was easier this time around to enter it. I knew the brand. People knew me from the events, even the rum shops,” she said, laughing.

“A lot of those rum shops have different characters and interacting with people and selling the brand at functions and events I already knew what being a rep for the brand entails.”

Jalisa, though, only entered the day before the competition closed.

“I still was undecided. It was last-minute. I said, let me see what this year will bring. I went with my mind made up that this year I wanted to win it.”

On the night of the competition while many would have seen a confident, smiling Jalisa on stage at the finals, that wasn’t entirely the case.

“I was actually sick. I tried not to show it. My body was where I wanted it to be but I was very, very nervous. I tried to be consistent throughout the contest but I knew I had strong competition. I didn’t want to be cocky and overconfident.”

Jalisa brought out family, friends and even sponsors to the finals held at Bay Gardens, Oistins and made Team Jalisa shirts.

“I went on stage and went for the best. When I won I was shocked and was very emotional,” she said, remembering the tears she shed onstage while being crowned and sashed and presented with her winning cheque.

“It was overwhelming. Knowing everything I went through, everything I sacrificed was finally worth it.”

Jalisa said being in the competition came with its challenges.

“Mentally, balancing it with work and my personal life was challenging and frustrating at times. Added to that, the charity component only gave me three weeks to pull everything together to make my charity efforts count.”

Jalisa’s luck of the draw was the Geriatric Hospital, which she has continued to work with even after the competition has ended.

“I sent out proposals. Got sponsors to come on board and I was able to raise over $8 000 for them.”

Jalisa said she has become part of the family there and some of the elderly have taken a huge liking to her.

“At first it was heart wrenching as many of them didn’t have anyone to visit them. If you tour that hospital you would see first-hand what they face. I visit them a couple days a week. I interact with them and do what I can to ease the boredom.”

Out of that Jalisa has gone a step further and formed her own charity to aid the Geriatric Hospital – Adopt A Ward: Embracing The Elderly is the slogan.

Jalisa holds an associate degree in accounting, economics and English literature and is now part-time at the University of the West Indies doing a bachelor in economics and law.

“I really wanted to be a doctor at first but the sight of blood makes me sick so that was a no-no,” she said, laughing.

Jalisa said that while she hates mathematics her studies would enable her to be diverse.

Jalisa will be making the rounds throughout Barbados doing her tour – signing calendars, meeting people and promoting the brand.

“I loved the calendar shoot for the calendar. It was at 4 a.m. in Coves Cave, St Lucy, and we left there about 8 a.m.,” she said, chuckling.

“The photographer made it very interesting. The concept came together and we had a lot of fun.”

Jalisa said more and more people are recognising her and she is the first calendar girl under the rebranded beer slogan – Life Nice.

“I like the direction of taking the brand regionally. Life nice in Barbados, Trinidad . . . all over the Caribbean. So that push will also see me repping the brand in the region.”