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12 to vie for Miss Bahamas Universe crown

Twelve young ladies will vie for the title of Miss Bahamas Universe and a $70,000 prize package.

Samia McClain, Danielle Grant, Vernique Chandler, Gabrielle Collie, Ianthe Kellman, Raven Hepburn, Selvinique Wright, Shantera Brown, Shauntae Miller, Devyevette Nagee, Dimarcia Bethel and Sasha Anderson will take to the stage on Sunday, August 12 at the amphitheater at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas for the contestants’ debut event. The pageant will take place September 16 at the Atlantis resort.

They are vying for prizes that include an all-expense-paid trip to the Miss Universe pageant, scheduled for December 16 in Bangkok, Thailand; a four-year scholarship to attend Midwestern State University; a wardrobe; a cash prize; jewelry; air travel; personal coaching and media training; as well as make-up, skin and hair care products.

The contestants will compete in the pageant, which has once again changed ownership, with Anthony Smith having acquired the Miss Bahamas Universe pageant franchise license in March.

Smith serves as president of the new team, which includes PJ Douglas Sands, second managing partner, who is also director of pageant affairs; Dr. Lorneka Joseph, director of personal and career development; Darron Pickstock, legal advisor; and Brett Claywell, co-executive producer.

At the contestants’ debut, Smith said the women would share their vision for the country and their aspirations for the social and cultural platforms they are most passionate about, giving the public the opportunity to get to know each of them, as they choose their favorite contestant through a special people’s choice vote that will fast-track their top choice into the top six, as the pageant preliminaries and events progress.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to build something that has long been a cultural tradition, as well as a part of history and heritage in some families,” said Smith.

In early July, the Miss Bahamas executive board hosted a two-day event for the ladies, dubbed “Chasing the Sash Leadership Workshop”.

“Our main goal was to ensure that our young ladies undergo the basics of what was needed in order for them to get a better understanding of the history of pageantry, what is expected of them as contestants and moreover, as the new queen,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of entrepreneurial training and other aspects of platform development the young ladies are undergoing, so that they understand the Miss Universe system more significantly, and the idea of its motto – ‘Confidently beautiful’.”

This year’s contestants range from college students and athletes, to entrepreneurs and working professionals.

There is a three-month period from crowning to taking to the Miss Universe stage.

“Given the limited time, organizers are developing a program that is broad in scope and will assist the new queen with her platform,” said Smith.

He added: “A lot of what we have implemented is simply to move the pageant program in our country into a 21st century marketplace. Our team’s aim was to restore ideas or approach evolving concepts. We’ve brought Toastmasters Club 1600 onboard to partner with us in the training of the ladies in communication and public speaking. That has been a part of the tradition in the Miss Bahamas Universe franchise for years,” said Smith. “We have to take our young ladies into multiple levels of training, because we do not have a proper three or four-tier pageant system… therefore many of the young ladies enter with little to no experience. We have modeling and media sessions that are done extensively, and lectures by various individuals who are experts in their areas of Bahamian history as well as what’s contemporary.”

Reigning queen Yasmine Cooke will crown her successor, and Smith is optimistic that the Miss Bahamas Universe winner, whoever she is, will make an indelible impression at the Miss Universe competition.

The Miss Universe pageant will be televised on Fox on Sunday, December 16 at 7 p.m.

Miss Bahamas Universe’s sponsors include Midwestern State University, Jergens, Biore, Beauty Shack, Shoreline Distributors and The Shoal Restaurant.

For ticket information visit or Facebook at MissBahamasPageant. Tickets can be purchased online from the organization’s website; at EyeCandy Make-Up, Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza; Rare Finds, in the Prince George Plaza, Bay Street; or Mon Qir Fashion, Carmichael Road, opposite Scotia Bank.

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