Toni-Ann takes on the world

Richard Johnson

Service is a big thing for the newly crowned Miss United Nations World, Jamaica’s very own Toni-Ann Lalor.

Lalor, who captured the title in India a week ago, shared that this pageant to which Jamaica has been sending representatives for a number of years, but in which the country is only now registering its first win, fits perfectly into what she is committed to doing as a person through the foundation which she established in 2019.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer Lalor shared that it was her participation in the Miss Jamaica World pageant in 2019 which paved the way for all this.

“After Miss Jamaica , here I placed in the top five and won the ‘Beauty With a Purpose’ award, I was left feeling ‘What next?’. Having won Beauty with a Purpose I was confident, as this is the whole mantra of Miss World. But on that final night during the on-stage interview I just went blank on stage. I felt like I gave up an opportunity.”

Disappointed but undaunted Lalor set about continuing the work of her Toni-Ann Lalor Reach Foundation with its three pillars: performing arts, a pen pal exchange, and agricultural mentorship — all aimed at the young people in her Manchester community.

It was this impressive portfolio which caught the eye and ears of the local franchise holders of the Miss Jamaica United Nations pageant, who decided to invite her to be Jamaica’s representative to the international pageant.

“I was pleased… this was my opportunity to represent my country on an international stage, and speak to the the topics about which I am passionate. Although I was being asked to be the representative there was still a long, rigorous interview — just to ensure that I was the right candidate, I guess. But shortly after that I received an email confirming that I would participate in the international pageant in India,” she noted.

Lalor left Jamaica on April 30 and on May 7 she edged out 53 other contestants to take the title. She will reign for the next year.

“It was an amazing experience. Everything about this pageant aligned with my own principles and objectives. It was about my charity and the possible impact on my country. My major platform is food sovereignty and hunger reduction. There was a one-on-one interview and I had to present a portfolio on the work of my foundation.”

“This fits so well into my bigger plan to rebrand agriculture to attract young people . We need to start this conversation about making it more appealing by looking at issues of food security, innovation and technology. I look forward to partnering with our Ministry of Agriculture in this regard,” Lalor continued.

Lalor returned to the island on Saturday but noted that already her schedule of international travel as part of her reign has begun filling up.

“I am seeing Vietnam, Thailand and the UK confirmed on the list already. Travelling, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures is another passion of mine, so I am also looking forward to this aspect,” she said.

Featured Image – Miss United Nations World 2022, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Lalor

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