Tarea Sturrup worked hard to ensure that she prepared herself to be put in the position to don the Miss Bahamas Universe crown and sash, but when it happened, in that moment, she said it felt like a dream.
“I was so shocked. I was like oh my gosh, this is really happening. And as the names called down and my name wasn’t called, I was like oh my goodness, it’s really, really happening. My coach was in the audience, and me and him made eye contact, and he was just like you did it; and I was like we did it, it’s actually happening. In that moment, even though you think you’re prepared for it, and it’s something you really worked towards, when it happens it feels like a dream.”
Miss Bahamas Universe is a title she she’s always dreamt of attaining, but she also suffered through periods of self-doubt.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue the dream of Miss Bahamas. For me it was something that I’ve always felt I wasn’t qualified for, or good enough to accomplish. When I felt sure in myself I thought now is the time, go for it – you’re old enough, you’re confident enough and more than capable of carrying the crown. And I’m very happy that I was selected.”
Sturrup, 23, was crowned Miss Bahamas Universe on Sunday night at the Atlantis Theatre.
“Miss Bahamas is something that a lot of Bahamian girls dream of, so to be wearing the crown and sash is honestly unreal. I’m really excited. I honestly can’t even put into words how excited I am,” she said.
After winning the title, Sturrup stayed awake until the wee hours of Monday morning, which she followed up by catching up on sleep all day Monday.
“I didn’t know I would be so exhausted, but it was a lot of work, and it really showed that day,” she said.
She visited her sponsors on Tuesday to thank them, which turned into an interesting day for her.
“People actually started to recognize me which isn’t something that I’m used to, so it was really different.”
On Wednesday she visited her beloved grandmother Myrtle Scavella, 76, who has been front and center in Sturrup’s run-up to the crown as the newest beauty queen’s platform addressed dementia awareness, having first-hand knowledge of the disease which her grandmother suffers with.
“She is so proud that I won,” said Sturrup. “I went over to her house and brought my crown and everything, and she was so excited.”
Sturrup caught her grandmother on one of her more coherent days, which made her happy.
“Some days she does recognize who I am and is able to say ‘hey, Tarea, how are you?’ and she laughs and jokes with me, and other days she may not recognize who I am, and those are the hard days, but I caught her on a good day and we had an amazing time,” she said.
Sturrup said she and her grandmother are like two peas in a pod.
“We are very much the same. We love music. We love dancing and laughing, so we always have a good time together.”
She worked hard to win the Miss Bahamas Universe crown – a title which she says she brings joy, happiness and a lot of vision – but she knows the work will get even more intense to prepare her for the Miss Universe stage, even though she does not officially know when and where it will be held.
“I definitely know what I want to do with my reign, and afterward. I really want to take The Bahamas to the world stage, but also really put us on the map. I’m bringing a lot of planning – Virgos love to plan, so I’m bringing a fully fleshed-out vision,” she said.
“We have definitely gotten our head in the game. We’re working on getting our platform fully fleshed out and we’re starting our programs nationally very soon and I’m looking forward to that. And I’m also looking forward to training to really be prepared to take the Miss Universe stage,” said the Bahamian representative.
“I’m just very excited. I’m so looking forward to this year. I can’t even imagine what’s in store.”
Other than continuing to push her dementia awareness platform, Sturrup said she would like to be a role model for other young women who see their dreams as too large to achieve.
“I definitely want to speak for the creatives in the world who are having struggles with pursuing a job that’s not so traditional. For me I’m a model and my parents didn’t always see the value in it, but now that I’m putting myself in positions to really be successful, I just want to speak to the persons who may feel as though they are taking a risk in pursuing something they really love.”
Tarea’s biggest modeling campaign to date has been a Gap commercial shoot. She’s also done runway work around the United States.
The newest Miss Bahamas Universe describes herself as a family-oriented person who loves food.
“Unfortunately, I’m not the best cook – that’s kind of my downfall, but I know where all the good restaurants are, so that’s good.”
She’s also an animal lover, and dogs hold a special place in her heart.
Sturrup also embraces life.
“Since dealing with my grandmother’s ailment, it’s really taught me to be thankful and just embrace every day.”