Miss Jamaica 2000 Ayisha Richards
Loud cheers greeted the announcement of Ayisha Richards as Miss Jamaica 2000 at the Le Meridian Jamaica Pegasus ballroom Saturday night.
An obviously shocked Richards gracefully made her walk down the ramp as the crowd, which she had won over with her warm smile and unaffected charm, gave her a standing ovation.
The 24 year old law student who wore the sash Miss Suave got the nod over favourite, Melanie Owen (Miss Bibibips Bar and Grill) and Marsha Ann Hay (Miss Twin Gates Shopping Centre), who stood out as the intellectual of the batch of 20 entrants.
Moments after winning, Richards said, while she knew she had a chance, she never expected the crown. “I’m ecstatic, speechless, breathless… It’s a tremendous honour. I believe I stood a very good chance, and I try to be confident in everything I do. So up to that point, I tried to maintain my composure.”
This she had to do when her prepared statement on what areas she would focus on if she won, made by all the top 10 finalists, was interrupted by an unco operative sound system.
“When the mike went, it threw me off. But I remembered what the instructors told us, to try and keep our composure in any situation.” She recovered beautifully, and got more support from the large audience with each appearance.
The girls all showed the results of voice and speech training, with no obvious gaffes. Hay and Nicole Brown were particularly well spoken.
This year’s presentation must rank among the best by the Spartan Health Club team led by Mickey Haughton-James, with a beautifully done intergalactic set depicting the theme ‘Beyond the Horizon’.
Upcoming vocal quintet, Voice Male, did very well, but veteran performer, Gem Myers stole the show, earning an encore after she once again proved herself the Queen of Cabaret, ably backed by the Unique Vision band. Tony Gregory serenaded the contestants. Other entertainment was by six members of the NDTC, who impressed with their strength and flexibility, particularly in the futuristic opening number.
The swimwear by Spunk was well fitting, with the iridescent highlights in the beautiful silver full suits sparkling as the girls presented themselves, stepping out in some truly fabulous shoes.
The evening gowns were also very attractive, with some interesting designs by Mark McDermot and Karl Williams for Uzuri International.
These included Richards’ gown, a shimmering champagne coloured form fitting sheath with a bodice covered in dangling bugle beads, Rowena Banton’s rich velvet gown which shifted from purple to gray and Pasha Campbell’s creation in white, with a bodice highlighted by beads which looked like feathers and a thigh-high see-through panel on one side. These were a far cry from the piece worn by Melanie Owen, whose red satin gown from the same designers did no justice to her well toned body.
The upset of the night was Pasha Campbell, who came in a favourite but failed to make the top 10.
Hay was named the Most Congenial contestant, earning herself $10,000, while Richards won a similar prize for Best Smile. This is in addition to the winner’s booty of a Peugeot 206 motorcar valued at almost $1 million, a $100,000 wardrobe and shoes, a trip to London to compete in the Miss World finals and other prizes.
Richards returns to Barbados today to make arrangements for a year’s leave of absence before returning to begin preparations for the finals in November.