GISELLE LARONDE - (Trinidad) 1986
My friends encouraged me to enter Miss World because they said I looked the part and had the personality. I was always a tom boy when growing up so did not see myself as a Miss World candidate. The week before the local competition I asked my parents if I could enter and after a bit of a hesitation my father said yes. My friends bought me the dress and swimsuit and that's how it all started. When I did win the Miss World title I was surprised, more like shocked, I was so full of pride and excitement and had little fear of what winning would mean for my life. I think the most important factors that led to me winning were a combination of self assurance, confidence, beauty, personality, intellect, grace, and presence. I was told by one of the judges that I looked at ease on the stage and flowed when I walked.
One of the most interesting personalities I met was Cliff Richards at a musical he was having. I was chatting with the other Caribbean entrants to Miss World and Cliff called me out of all the 87 girls attending and asked that I join him in front of the cameras, so I could be interviewed by him. He was charming and gracious and it was a very memorable moment for me. I was 23 years of age at the time.
The most important lesson I learnt from Miss World was humility and that the glitz and glamour portrayed by the press of several countries in the world is not representative of the many issues these countries citizens face. I was from the small town of San Fernando and the internet was not yet popular so we did not get a lot of information on what was happening in the outsideworld. So when I started to travel the world during my reign I began to see and understand issues affecting the poor, reasons for disharmony among religious sects, and the hunger for power people have and the extent they will go to acquire this power. It was certainly an eye-opener for me as I realized that although Trinidad has its problems, several other countries face the same if not more pressing issues, and it did not matter the size of the country.
The learning I took away from Miss World, I use to build understanding in my 2 boys about the issues people face in the world - poverty, health, environmental issues and encourage them to get involved in charity projects. My personal charity is the Cancer Society, having seen so many of my family members and people I know affected by cancer. The Caribbean has come a long way with integration. Politically there is much more work that I think can be done to promote the Caribbean as a whole and reduce competition among ourselves. I think our food is a major attraction, we should focus on enticing visitors to our shores perhaps with annual culinary events.
My focus in life now is on my family. In the past I have done well in Shotokan Karate (SKIFTT) where I hold a 2nd degree black belt. Recently I competed in the SKIF 10th anniversary karate world championships in Athens and placed fourth, just missing the bronze in the kata division in my age group. I am also a founding Board Member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) of Trinidad and Tobago, and past president. The IABC promotes best practices in new media, social media and writing skills. Should I not have won The Miss World title, my journey in life would not have been as easy. When I entered the competition, I was working hard to save money to go to University in Trinidad, so when I won, I used the prize money to go to Goldsmith's College, University of London in England. When I completed my studies I had a job waiting for me back home. Life just fell into place from there on. The winners of the title today are living in a very different time, compared to my days as Miss World, this requires them to be very aware of all the current issues in the world around them, concerning the environment, politics, culture, etc. They need to be stronger and more self confident as so much more is expected of them.
Caribbean lifestyle activities I enjoy include sun-bathing rip gliding over the mountains, kayaking, and jet skiing. We have so many of these activities in the Caribbean we can participate in. I enjoy the eclectic fusion of the music of 3 Canal, Movado, Chris Brown, Rhianna, Vibes Cartel, Sean Kingston, and Neyo to name a few. In regard to fashion, I do not like some of the clothing styles such as the gangster look with the underwear showing, that our young men are wearing. And our young women are wearing long tops over tights, which are just not long enough.
My goals over the next few years are to continue to lecture on business and social etiquette to staff of corporate clients and private clients, as well as teach the young people of Trinidad general etiquette for their future development. I want to get a gold, silver or bronze medal at an international karate event, so I will be competing at a few events over the next few years. One day I hope to open my own school of personal development. I would like to see less violence and hatred in our world. Let's start in theCaribbean and make the world a better place for ourselves and our children. Let us give them something to look forward to.