Interview with Miss Caribbean U.K. Finalist – Ashlea Smith
Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey for my pageant lockdown blog. It’s lovely getting to know fellow pageant queens and more about the systems that they represent.
What made you enter pageants?
I was born in the Cayman Islands; however, I was raised in Suffolk in the UK. Being mixed race and living in a place lacking diversity, it didn’t lend much opportunity to embrace my Caribbean heritage. After moving to Loughborough to attend University I took part in my first Caribbean Carnival (2016) performing as part of a Leicester based troupe. My carnival experience was so empowering, that I was eager to explore more opportunities to embrace my Caribbean roots. I searched for UK based opportunities which led me to Miss Caribbean UK. I was extremely excited at the opportunity to learn more about my culture and challenge myself in an unknown environment.
What made you decide to compete Miss Caribbean U.K. ?
In all honestly, I planned to enter Miss Caribbean UK for a few years, however, I didn’t feel confident enough in myself to apply. After watching the MCUK 2019 footage I was incredibly inspired by the winner Sydonie Barrett who represented the Cayman Islands. I think that’s what made me click submit on my application! After I was selected, I was reassured by my decision to compete through MCUK due to the supportive, and kind nature of the MCUK team. They provide such a welcoming environment which aims to empower you as a contestant and teach you to portray the best version of yourself. I am extremely happy that I chose MCUK as my first pageant!
What’s your pageant platform and why?
My platform promotes the ability that sport and physical activity has to bring people together from all walks of life, build one’s confidence and in some cases transform an individual’s life for the better. Sport and physical activity have always been a huge part of my life, and I want to raise awareness of the physical, social and mental benefits that it can instil. My role in sport has varied from; player, enjoying activity first-hand, to coach, leading and teaching groups and individuals, to coordinator/facilitator, creating wider impact through sport both in the UK and internationally.
A pivotal moment in my life was being involved in the ‘Volunteer Zambia’ project in 2012 which uses sport as a vehicle to support disadvantaged young people. After living in the country for over four months as the Project Manager and visiting Zambia most years to volunteer,this country certainly has my heart. To continue my support to the amazing people working to help young people in Zambia my platform will be raising awareness and funds to support ‘The Perfect Day Foundation’ charity.
If you were to win Miss Caribbean U.K. what would it mean to you?
It would truly mean the world. I feel that winning a pageant provides you with a sense of belief and self-confidence. Furthermore, it reinforces that what you stand for is accepted by others, so I would be ecstatic if I were honoured with the MCUK 2020 title.
What’s the best advice you have for fellow pageant queens?
‘Be the type of person that you would like to meet’. This is one of my favourite quotes that I try to stand by in every aspect of my life. In addition to investing time in our outward facing beauty, we must remind ourselves that developing our personality and reflecting on our personal traits, behaviours and attitudes should be a regular act. Spending the time to consider how we treat others and practising the ability to be kind is never a wasted exercise.
What have you been doing in the run up to the final of Miss Caribbean U.K. ?
Learning! As this is my first pageant, I have been a sponge trying to absorb as much information from my MCUK mentors and embracing the opportunity as much as possible. It’s been a challenging time for the pageant world during the COVID-19 lockdown, but it’s demonstrated everyone’s ability to adapt and I am currently using the time to build on my charity campaign supporting my platform, with the aim to launch my fundraising campaign supporting ‘The Perfect Day Foundation’ in June.
What makes a good pageant role model?
A role model that is able to make effective and positive impact is relatable and authentic. Someone who people can identify with, and who inspires their audience to be a better version of themselves.
What round are you most looking forward to?
Whilst this is my first pageant, I have been extremely excited for the carnival round of Miss Caribbean UK! I LOVE the positivity and unity that carnival promotes, including the music, colours and costume. It’s an opportunity to express yourself and promote the Caribbean, so I am thoroughly looking forward to this pageant round. After all, who doesn’t enjoy having a dance to Soca!?
Social Media Links
Instagram: Ashlea.jade_ Twitter: @AshleaJSmith Facebook: AJFitnessTraining
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions it’s been lovely getting to know I wish you all the best in your first ever pageant ! Much love Charlotte, Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.