From a field of 18 contestants, Iana Tickle Garcia gave consistently flawless responses and copped the title Miss Universe Jamaica (MUJ) 2019, on Saturday. Her runners-up were the popular Toni-Ann Lalor and Sian Graham Connolly, who were placed second and third, respectively.

And for the newest Jamaican queen, her win was surreal. “I am so excited now, I can’t believe it. It is so surreal. It is my dream come true,” she told The Gleaner.

And she is looking forward to all the experiences, all the people she will be meeting, and the adventures to come. She promised to promote Jamaica through the youth.

“They are the best resource, and they are the future,” she declared.

The glitzy affair, in its first staging at the National Arena, saw the space transformed. The Dermoth Williams-designed swimwear and evening gowns, worn by the contestants complemented the grandiose backdrop.

The engaging programme began with the playing of the national anthem.

Shortly after, the contestants made their first appearance, and with them was Jamaican vocalist, Gem Myers. In their second appearance, the top 10 were announced.

They were chosen based on a prejudging that had taken place on the Wednesday preceding the coronation show.

The top ten, Umeka Chin, Imani Jenkins, Leah Hollingsworth, Chevonne Beadle, Jenelle Baldie, Sasha Henry, Aiysha Hemmings, Iana Tickle Garcia, Toni-Ann Lalor, and Sian Graham Connolly, strutted the catwalk in Williams designs, each convincing the able judges that she was the right choice for the crown.

Reduced to six

Then the list was reduced to six, with Henry, Lalor, Beadle, Garcia, Hemmings and Connolly making the cut, for the Personality Interview challenge.

It came in the form of questions, which addressed a wide range of topics: domestic violence, trade, abortion, GSAT versus PEP, and sexual harassment. With Beadle, Henry, and Hemmings making some errors, the list was further shortened to three – Garcia, Connolly and Lalor.

After the three were asked, individually, to explain the MUJ tagline, ‘Confidently Beautiful, Enhancing Lives Through Beauty,” the judges – and rightfully so – declared Garcia the winner. The Montegonian was also deemed the best in her evening gown, in the sectional prizes. Sasha Henry, who is a police officer, was awarded three sectional prizes: the MUJ Altruism Award, Essence of Style Award and People’s Choice Award. Lalor received the prize for Most Congenial, while Most Photogenic went to Chin. Jenkins won for the Best in Swimwear.

Along with Gem Myers, who had performed earlier in the show, Elton Earlington, Alaine, and an injured Gyptian provided entertainment during the periods of deliberation by the judges. And in the absence of Miss Universe Jamaica 2018, Emily Maddison, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and Olivia Grange sashed the new queen. Emcees for the evening were Terri- Karrelle Reid and Joel Nomdarkham

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