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Hotseat - Norisa Richards

844hotseatTwenty-seven-year-old Administrative Assistant at the Department of Education Norisa Richards captured the hearts of judges to win this year's Miss Mature Carnival Queen Pageant from a bevy of five other women in the wee hours of Tuesday. The Gemini-born, Oyster Pond resident and sports fanatic, who plays with Angel's Softball Club and Oualichi Women's Soccer team, is thrilled at her victory, and looks forward to representing her crown well during her reign. Richards, who thanked her supporters, family, friends, sponsors and fellow contestants, tells Out 'n About, about her experience in this week's Hot Seat.

Who is Norisa Richards?

"I am a very ambitious, courageous, caring, enthusiastic, calm, hardworking and adventurous person, who is full of life and easy-going, with a great sense of humour. I am also outspoken."

Where were you educated, what did you study and why?

"I attended St. Joseph Primary School, Milton Peters College and Haagse Hogeschool in Holland."

Fond childhood memories growing up in St. Maarten?

"Growing up, I loved fishing, catching shrimp and picking whelks and conchs with my dad. I still do these things, when time permits. I grew up on the track in Cay Hill as an athlete with gold medals in long distance and high jump. I was also one of the first female soccer players. I swam and played table tennis. These are memories that I will never forget."

How did it feel when you were announced winner?

"It was a great feeling. I was overjoyed, excited, happy and jumpy. I looked up and said: "Mommy this is for you." I was hungry for the crown and I came and I conquered. After winning several sashes back-to-back, I somehow knew I would have won, but I was still a bit shaky, but then they announced contestant number #3 Ms. Norisa Richards as the new queen... My journey has now started and I am very excited."

Why did you decide to enter the pageant?

"I actually mentioned it as a joke on Facebook. I said if I got 50 likes, I will enter the pageant. I ended up getting more than 250 likes. When it was time to register for the pageant, my friend Suku told me it was time to register and I told her I was joking, but she told me that I had already posted it publicly. I then decided that I would do it in honour of my late mother Shirley van Heyningen-Richards. She was an easy-going and shy person, who always said she can never do these types of things and that she had one person who would do a perfect job and that was me. She is not here today, but I think I represented her well."

Was this your first pageant?

"It was my second pageant. I had competed in the Junior Carnival Queen Pageant many years ago and I placed second runner-up."

What do you think gave you the edge over other contestants?

"My costume, my talent entitled "What's love got to do with it" and my professional creative wear. My costume was designed by Michael Douglas from Aruba and made by Jasmine Philips. For my professional creative wear segment, I came up a ladder and starting crawling on the ground in a sniper camo suit, as if I was in combat. I quickly took off that outfit and exposed my rugged army look, ready for war. The stage was set up with propos such as barbed wires, which I crawled under in combat mode. Six tires were lined up which I ran through and then pulled off that outfit and came out like a boss in my creative office army wear - a very professional woman ready to serve - the crowd loved it. They began to scream and cheer. I was pleased and happy with the outcome."

Give us an insight into what went into preparing to compete in the pageant?

"It takes time and dedication. You also need to have a lot of faith, confidence and always trust and believe in yourself. I have been preparing for the pageant for about five months, before the actual pageant meetings and practices began."

Challenges in the process?

"I was doing so many things at the time. I was preparing for the pageant, preparing for the birth of my sister's first child and preparing for Carnival, because I also run Booth #67 in the Village, and coincidentally I had won the first-ever booth holder's cooking competition last year. I was also going to regular practices, making it to every event, making time to see my chaperon Paula Gordon and complete my work, which I never sacrificed. When it came to my work, everything was placed on the side. My Marketing Manager was Francis Matthew – the well-known Catwalk Professor."

Were you nervous on stage? If yes, how did you handle it?

"No, I was not nervous at all. I was excited and I was having fun. From preparing for the show and going to events, to being on stage, I was always having a blast and was full of confidence."

What are the main things that you would champion during your reign?

"Work with the youth and children with special needs, help with breast cancer awareness and work on a huge secret project."

What is your advice to other females, who want to enter pageantry and win this title?

"My advice is for them to take a stand and let go of their fears. Pageantry is a great learning experience and an even greater feeling being crowned."

What would you say to persons, who see pageantry as a negative depiction of women?

"It takes a lot of courage to go on stage in front of a large crowd; so instead of being negative, encourage more women to compete in pageantry in St. Maarten. It has been part of our culture for many years."

Now that you have experienced the pageant, how can it be further enhanced?

"The pageant has been marketed in a huge way over the years. I believe more women need to register and get a chance to experience the joys of being in a pageant for mature women. I noticed that when the prizes are attractive, many women do tend to sign up."

Future goals?

"To become a wife, start my own little family and become a successful businesswoman."

Hobbies

"Playing soccer, softball, track and field, table tennis, swimming, shopping, community service and most importantly spending quality time with my loved ones."

Some people have a bucket list of things they must do in life; what are some of the things on your bucket list that you absolutely must do?

"I think I've tried it all, but I still want to go skydiving, parasailing and travel to Africa, China and India. I love learning about new cultures, so there are many places I would like to go and things that I want to do. Some of these things are already in the pipeline."

What is your favourite type of music? What artistes do you listen to?

"R&B slow jams. I listen to Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight and SWV."

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

"I would invite my mom, the late Shirley van Heyningen-Richards; the late Whitney Houston and President Barack Obama. I would cook them my famous bullfoot soup and locri. I would also put a lobster on the side for my mom, which she loved very much. I would like to share the following quote with everyone: To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to create one-self endlessly."