Chantal Zaky is Miss Universe Ja

Richard Johnson

Monday, May 14, 2012

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THE second time around proved to be the charm for newly crowned Miss Universe Jamaica Chantal Zaky at the National Indoor Sports Centre in St Andrew on Saturday night.


After finishing a disappointing third place in last year’s contest, the young Portlander dusted off her stilettos and gave the national pageant another shot and it all paid off.


Speaking to the Jamaica Observer immediately following her crowning, an elated Zaky said this time round she was a more focused contestant. "I am just more polished this time. I looked at my performance last year and just went into this one more focused, using the power of positive thinking. It has truly paid off and now I am honoured to have been chosen especially at this time — Jamaica 50."


The 24-year-old emerged from a field of 16 beauties to earn the opportunity to represent Jamaica at the Miss Universe Pageant set for South Africa later this year. Model and art student Racquel Jones finished strongly and earned the first runner-up spot while Sherece Cowan placed third.


The top five was completed with ebony beauty Danisha Scott and the statuesque Amanda Mitchell. The crown could have easily gone to either of these ladies. Scott, with her stunning face, flawless skin and wellproportioned body was well on her way to the international pageant, but her strut was halted during the dreaded interview segment. While Mitchell, who definitely has that ‘international look’ was overcome and ultimately undone by her youthful exuberance. Given another two years of intense training and maturity, Mitchell could definitely be a stronger contestant and should open herself up to the possibility of re-entering the pageant.


Kudos must be given to the new franchise holders of the pageant — headed by hotelier Dimitris Kosvogianis — for stepping up the quality of the show, following on the nightmare that it was a year ago.


Although not filled to capacity, the venue had a fair-sized audience, who were treated to a decent evening of entertainment.


The set and decor were commendable and allowed for adequate viewing from wherever one sat. Sound and lighting were adequate. And the added bonus of the presence of the reigning Miss Universe, Angola’s Leila Lopes, was truly commendable and served to raise the profile of the local pageant from the pits to which it had plunged.


However, there are areas that threatened to ruin what was a great night.


The evening’s comperes were frequently left to "stretch" and ramble while the flow of the production stalled. The producer of the event is to be blamed here. A rule of thumb in productions of this kind is to save the speeches and performances and use them to plug the ‘holes’. Instead all these were used up at the top of the evening, even before a single beauty took to the stage.


The evening’s comperes Kerie Ann ‘Kiki’ Lewis and Andrew Lawrence, kept on announcing that the evening’s guest of honour — Lopes — was the fourth black woman to be crowned Miss Universe. However, in listing the past black winners, they repeatedly omitted the two winners from our sister Caribbean island of Trinidad & Tobago — Janelle ‘Penny’ Commissiong, 1977 and Wendy Fitzwilliam, 1998.


It was never explained as to why 11 beauties being named in the top 10. Production flaws reared its head again as six finalists were named and while they were on stage MC Lewis had to request house music be played while she dashed off stage to get the other names, returning with the names of five contestants. However, by the end of the night, all these were forgotten as the audience was given a title holder of worth.

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