I am an island girl – born, bred and rooted in my beautiful home country of Jamaica. I earned the moniker, “Your Jamaican Girl”, when I won Miss Jamaica World 2005 as an unlikely candidate, donning my natural afro curls unapologetically all throughout the competition, even after being advised to straighten my hair.
In an effort to challenge the representation and perception of black women, and inspire others who looked like me, I maintained my look for the international pageant in China, where I walked away as a Top 15 finalist, winning the People’s Choice vote for the Caribbean – all while being authentically me.
After completing a Doctor of (Veterinary) Medicine in Cuba on a government scholarship in 2007, I faced cross-cultural accreditation challenges when I returned home, which resulted in me being unable to practice veterinary medicine in Jamaica. My dreams were crushed.
Thus began my journey in marketing and management. I worked as a Public Relations Executive with RISARC Consulting in Los Angeles; General Manager of the popular Spartan Health Club; and the Online Brand Manager of The Gleaner Company Ltd, where I successfully implemented innovative digital marketing strategies for the oldest and largest newspaper in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Taking the suggestions of people around me who thought I had the right personality and natural talent for the job, I transitioned into the world of media. After getting my start as a radio personality, I eventually landed on television in 2012, hosting the most-watched live television show in Jamaica – Digicel Rising Stars, a job I still love and do to this day.
This turning point led to many more opportunities over the years. I have had the joy of bringing energy and zest to television shows; entertaining international crowds at cultural and music events; and interviewing some of the world’s most powerful and influential personalities.
I have been fortunate to become one of the most well-loved media personalities in my country, and I give back by using my platform to inspire, challenge, motivate and advocate for positive change for individuals and the world at large. My story is a reminder to others who are fighting crushed dreams, that they can create new opportunities, hone new skills and define their own lives on their terms.
As I raise my beautiful daughter, Naima-Kourtnae, I have also become a strong advocate for positive parenting – guiding children along the path to success while allowing them to explore the world and its endless possibilities, and encouraging them to develop their own passion and purpose.
It is for this reason that I use my platform and my voice to bring attention to issues affecting at-risk youth and the organizations that support them, because I know that enabling children to see beyond their circumstances and believe that they can achieve more is the most important thing we can do in empowering the next generation.