“Auntie Joanne, I do not know how you do it” – that’s what she said to me on the other side of delivering a talk at her alma mater Antigua Girls High School. She had been one of several old girls invited back to share their accumulated experiences and wisdom, to inspire, to motivate…I’m assuming. She spoke, she said, on being confident in who you are, self-love, taking care of your bodies “and yadayada”. Listening to her unpack the experience I was reminded of speaking at her school – I had been invited to field questions from her class which was at the time reading my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. She was still a student then, one of the students gathered in the auditorium.
And now here she was, a young woman, stepping to the front of the class after attracting some national and regional spotlight as a Top 4 contender on Caribbean’s Next Top Model. Like another of my nieces (the one my friends refer to as “the tennis player”), this one’s passion (in this case for art and fashion – a passion which has taken her to the winner’s circle of the St. Anthony’s Secondary School Sidewalk Art Festival while still in secondary school and the local designer’s comp known as Fashiontastic during her college years) has been unwavering. She’s been walking the runway for a couple years now (including off-Antigua runways such as the one at St. Lucia Jazz and Arts) but I think after competing in CNTM she has a better sense of the sacrifice and hard work involved in dream chasing. And she certainly has a sense after her debut as a public speaker with her return to the high school she departed only a few years ago, of the extra expectations that come with stepping in to the spotlight. Pressuh!
As with all my little ones, I wish a journey marked by the daring to buck convention, answer the call of your beating heart, and leap toward your dreams. And the fortune to catch them.
I’m also posting this because much like writers on the hustle, models taking their strides need to get the word out for those opportunities to come in.
So meet, Nicoya Henry, model from Antigua and Barbuda.
Note: click on the images to be taken to the source.