Miss Jamaica was a confidence builder for Mitsy SeagaSunday, September 26, 2021
By KEVIN JACKSON
In 1964 a bubbly Marie Elizabeth Constantine, popularly known as Mitsy, was crowned Miss Jamaica.
She is now 78 years old, still bubbly, resides in Florida and is grandmother to four. She married former prime minister, the late Edward Seaga, in 1965 . That marriage lasted for 30 years and produced three children — Christopher, Anabella and Andrew — before ending in divorce. She is now married to Zia Mian, former director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).
Today, 57 years after winning the Miss Jamaica title, she credits the pageant and that experience for developing her confidence.
She revealed, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, that pageants were never really her thing, but she was encouraged by family and close friends and decided to give it a shot. She won her first beauty contest at a church fair when she was 13 years old and went on to win the Miss City of Kingston title in 1962.
“I sometimes wonder what made me enter beauty competitions because I have never been a vain person. Somehow, I was encouraged, firstly by my mother and secondly by a family friend who was a member of the Jaycees in Kingston. In those days the Jaycees used to sponsor the Miss Jamaica competition. In 1962 Jamaica became an independent country and naturally there were several events to mark this memorable occasion and one was Miss City of Kingston beauty pageant which was sponsored by the Mayors Parlor in Kingston. To be honest, I was not aware of the significance of the pageant because the contest was among the cinemas in Kingston, one of which was where my mother worked for years, the Carib Theatre.”
“My mother and her friends, who also worked at the Carib, thought that I would be a good candidate for the theatre. So, they encouraged me to represent the theatre. After being successful as Miss Carib, I went on to be a part of Miss City of Kingston. Being crowned Miss City of Kingston at our Independence celebrations was a memorable night for me, my runner-up was the lovely Shirley Anderson, the sister of Beverly Anderson Manley,” Seaga Mian recalled.
In 1964, Mitsy was approached to enter the Miss Jamaica contest, which at the time was promoted by the Kingston Jaycees, a reputable men's club.
“There was a cocktail party at the then Courtleigh Hotel, where sponsors would choose their candidates. In order to attend that sponsorship party, I selected Miss Flossie Thomas, the most popular dressmaker of that time, to prepare my wardrobe for the party. She took charge of my wardrobe and made the most exquisite black and white dress for me. In that dress, I felt very confident that I would receive a great sponsor which I did. J Wray & Nephew chose me and I became Miss Appleton,” she shared.
It aas at that function that she would be introduced to her future husband, the then Minister of Culture Edward Seaga. She later learn of his interest in beauty pageants as Carole Joan Crawford, the reigning Miss Jamaica and Miss World 1963, shared that Seaga had also encouraged and supported her in her competition.
“Winning Miss Jamaica at the National Stadium was incredibly exciting. The stage was erected across the football field and the stands were filled with spectators. I remember well my dress was close fitting and I had not gone to Flossie for a final fitting, so when she brought it to the stadium that night and I put it on to go on stage, I realised the hem was very narrow and I wasn't able to walk normally. Oh dear, I was worried as the runway was so long! However, I came out on stage to a pretty full stadium and strutted my way on stage to the shouts of 'Suzy Wong yuh dress too tight,'' Seaga Mian said with a laugh.
Her runners-up in the 1964 Miss Jamaica contest were Erica Cooke (second place) and Joy Gossen (third place).
Seaga Mian didn't attend the Miss World contest in 1964. Cooke was the delegate at the 1964 Miss World pageant. She finished in sixth place.
“Unfortunately, I didn't attend Miss World as I had requested that my mother accompany me and the Jaycees denied my request. I must mention that the previous year, when Carole Crawford won and went on to the Miss World competition her mother Edna Crawford accompanied her.”
Shortly after her reign, Mitsy worked at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation as a broadcaster at JBC Radio and JBC-TV.
Originally from Christiana in Manchester, Mitsy attended Knox College and later relocated to Kingston, where she was among the first 40 students to attend The Queen's School.
Years later, she led and spearhead a renewal in the culture of volunteerism and social conscience, which saw her leading the charge to provide proper State care for neglected and/or abandoned children, as well as creating opportunities for the underqualified through new programmes and patronage. Being the patron of and establishing the SOS Children's Village in Stony Hill is considered one of her marquee achievements. Another such achievement is the founding of the HEART School of Cosmetology.