D'shnay Mathew York outshone five other young ladies from the six Dutch Caribbean islands at the Miss Caribbean Islands Pageant held at Festival Village in The Bottom, Saba, on July 30. The 18-year-old speaks about herself and her experience in this week's Hot Seat.
Who D'shnay York?
I am outgoing, vivacious, a little goofy, regular teenager who enjoys dancing, modelling, acting, singing and of course nurturing my biggest love, which is pageantry.
I am currently attending the academic section of St. Maarten Academy.
Aspirations and why?
My future aspirations are to become a mortician and a politician. I don't want to solely depend on my country as a politician this is why I would also like to become a mortician. I would like to become a politician because I have a vision for change and I believe change is truly needed on my island. A mortician, because I would like to be the person to actually help others who are going through the grieving process of losing a loved one, whether helping them choose a coffin or just being a shoulder to cry on, I want to be there.
Why did you decide to enter the Caribbean Islands Pageant?
I was approached by a person in St. Maarten, who told me about the pageant that was coming up and thought I would be interested. They sent the information to my team, and the hard work began. The rest, as they say, is history.
You've won several pageants; what gives you the edge?
I've actually participated in eight pageants and I've won six of them. The two that I did not win, I placed first and second runner-up. I see every pageant as a learning experience and I learn something new in every pageant. As the saying goes, you win some, you lose some.
How did you prepare for the Caribbean Islands Pageant?
I prepared for this pageant the way I would prepare for any other pageant: I did my research, I then asked the judges who judged me in the past what I could improve on and I worked on my weak spots. I practiced whenever and wherever I had the opportunity to.
Challenges in preparing?
The only challenge I faced was sponsorship, but a few guardian angels came to my rescue such as the honourable Claret Connor, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications.
How do you handle nerves on stage?
I never seem to be nervous on stage. I go out there with the mentality that the stage is my playground and I'm very territorial.
What are the three top things you would like to champion during your reign as Caribbean Islands Queen?
I would like to bring more awareness to the Dutch Caribbean islands, promote unity amongst the islands as well as represent all six islands when necessary.
Now that you have experienced the pageant, how do you think it can be enhanced even further in the future?
I believe for a first-time pageant, the organisers did an amazing job putting the show together and keeping us busy when we arrived in Saba.
What is your advice to other females who also want to enter pageantry and win?
If you have a dream, go for it and shoot for the stars. The galaxy is your limit. Remember that nothing worth having comes easy; and if it does, it's not worth having. Determination and hard work are key.
What other pageant can we expect you to compete in, in the future?
I expect to represent St. Maarten wherever I go so whenever an opportunity arises, I'll be there. But I always say that I will be the first girl from St. Maarten to win the Miss Universe Pageant and if I can dream it, I can achieve it.
What would you say to persons who see pageantry as a negative depiction of women?
To me, just like any competition, there's a negative and a positive. But in pageantry, the positive outweighs the negative. I've seen for myself what pageantry has done for many girls' self-esteem. Pageantry also helps with etiquette – something, in my opinion, all women should know to the T.
What is your favourite type of music?
I'm a soca junkie. I listen to soca all year round. However, I think it's a phase. I also love trap music – if you go through my phone right now, I swear my top 10 played songs are from Fetty Wap.
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 Nelly (everyone knows that's my hubby like duhhh). I would also invite my mommy because for some strange reason, whenever I cook, she doesn't eat (laughs); I think it has something to do with my first attempt at cooking. And, lastly, I'd invite Janelle Penny Commissiong because she was the first black woman to win the Miss Universe title when she participated in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 1977. I would serve them my favourite foods: Scalloped potato, baked chicken, corn and lasagne.