Jamaica undoubtedly has some of the most beautiful and exotic women in the world. Our island may be small but we have produced breathtaking beauties throughout the years that have conquered the world and, at times, even the ‘universe’. Here are a few of the Jamaican beauties that have enchanted the world and stunningly embody the motto of our island home: Out of Many One People.
Marguerite LeWars was Jamaica’s first representative at Miss Universe in 1961 and she was later featured in the first James Bond film “Dr. No” where she played the role of Dr. No's photographer, Annabel Chung. The first ever Miss World crown for Jamaica was won by Carole Joan Crawford in 1963. At age 20, standing at 5’3 (1.59m), she is the shortest Miss World in history and she was also the first woman of colour to be crowned. To celebrate her momentous victory, 3 million postage stamps were issued in her honour. Crawford currently resides in Canada.
Jamaica captured the coveted Miss World crown for the 2nd time when Cynthia Jean Cameron Breakspeare, popularly known as Cindy Breakspeare, won in 1976. Two years later, she gained further fame when she began to date Reggae legend Bob Marley and gave birth to their only child and a future icon himself, the Grammy-winning reggae musician, Damian “Jr. Gong” “Gongzilla” Marley. Breakspeare is currently a musician and producer and continues to be a popular Jamaican public figure.
Cathy Levy, a renowned Jamaican beauty queen who became a popular personality and actress, placed 4th at Miss World in 1983 and enjoyed a noteworthy turn in the Denzel Washington film ‘The Mighty Quinn’ with another well-known Jamaican actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph. Nowadays she is heavily invested in children’s theatre on the island. She was followed by Allison Jean Barnett in 1985 who managed to place 5th. Allison was a huge favourite at Miss World that year but she stumbled during her interview segment which was a possible reason for her missing out on the crown.
In 1989, the stunning super-beauty Sandra Foster secured a top 10 placement at the Miss Universe pageant. Not deterred by her loss, she entered the Miss Jamaica World contest and won, making her the first Jamaican to win both Miss Jamaica Universe and Miss Jamaica World titles. She placed 4th at Miss World in 1991 as well as being named the Caribbean Queen of Beauty. In that same year, Jamaica placed in the top 5 at the Miss Universe pageant represented by Kimberley Mais. Mais’ continued her success with Pulse model agency as a global supermodel.
1993 would see Jamaica having its 3rd awarding of the prestigious Miss World crown with the very brilliant, poised, demure and articulate Lisa Hanna. She later entered representational politics and served as a Minister of Youth and Culture during the 2011 People’s National Party administration and continues to serve her country as a political representative.
After Lisa’s win, it took Jamaica another 5 years before Christine Straw made it to the semi-finals at Miss World 1998. Also noteworthy was Michelle Moodie’s crowning as Caribbean Queen of Beauty at Miss World 1997.
In 2002, Sanya Hughes represented Jamaica at the Miss Universe pageant. She did not place in the coveted Top 10, however, her impact was undeniable as she was selected by world-renowned Global Beauties as the “sexiest woman of the Americas” in 2002. After the pageant, Sanya continued her modelling career with Pulse model agency and in 2011 she had a small role as “Mermaid” in the 9th highest grossing film of all time worldwide, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
In 2004, Christine Straw also followed in her predecessor, Sandra Foster’s, footsteps to became the second Jamaican woman to win both the Miss Jamaica Universe and Miss Jamaica World titles. She also made the top 10, like she did at Miss World 6 years earlier.
In that same year, Tonoya Toyloy represented Jamaica at Miss World where she received a scholarship which she used to pursue a PhD in Pharmacy, graduating in 2009.
In 2005, the bubbly Terri-Karelle Reid represented Jamaica at Miss World and made the semi-finals. She is currently the Brand Manager of the leading newspaper on the island, The Gleaner, the host of the immensely popular Digicel Rising Stars talent competition on Television Jamaica as well as other roles and is a widely beloved public figure. The following year in 2006, Sara Lawrence, placed 4th; the highest placement since Lisa Hanna. She went on to become a medical doctor and the first Caribbean ambassador for L’Oreal Paris.
In 2007, quintessential beauty Yendi Phillips was crowned the new Miss Jamaica World. She would later create history at Miss World by being the first and only contestant to make the finals of all the fast track events: beach beauty, sports, talent, top model, and the Beauty with a Purpose. During the Miss World telecast, she made the Top 16 and Global Beauties named her gown, designed by Uzuri International, “the most beautiful evening gown” in all the international beauty pageants for 2007.
Yendi’s quest for an international crown continued as she later re-entered the pageant world, this time representing Jamaica at the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. She did her country proud yet again by placing 2nd, Jamaica’s highest placement ever in Miss Universe.
In January 2015, Kaci Fennell represented Jamaica at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami, Florida. She was the clear international favourite throughout the competition finishing as 4th runner up. Leading up to the pageant and beyond, Kaci received tremendous support from Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora. Most Jamaicans, as well as the international audience, openly embraced Kaci’s unique and distinguished features, noticeably her short hair and striking facial bone structure. Many pageant fanatics believed that Kaci was the clear winner, which led to many media outlets reporting that Kaci was robbed of the Miss Universe crown.
Over the decades, Jamaica has produced several beauties that have conquered the globe. Their impact has been felt both on and off the stage, as many of them continue to blaze a trail in their respective careers. It’s safe to say that the future of Jamaican beauty and pageantry looks promising. On any given weekend in Jamaica, a bevy of island beauties can be spotted at some of the finest chill spots. Our island may be small, but the impact of our queens is unprecedented.