“I’ve been enjoying it,” shares Johnnel Smith, Jamaica’s newest Festival Queen, dishing with TALLAWAH about her year of reign, at Thursday’s JCDC Excellence Awards, where she participated as one of the presenters. For the equally brilliant and beautiful Smith, stepping into the fulfilling, albeit demanding, role of a cultural ambassador since her July coronation has been both rewarding and accompanied by a packed schedule.
But the Manchester native is not one to complain. “My busiest period is behind me – which was during Emancipation and Independence. But it has been filled with the Jamaican culture, which I love,” says Smith. “Now another busy period is coming up with the Heroes’ Weekend, and I am looking forward to it.”
The highlight of the whole affair, she reveals, remains her crowning moment at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, where she bested a field of 13 parish queens last summer to emerge this year’s top queenpin. “I also enjoyed this year’s World Reggae Dance Finals and also the Grand Gala.”
In the meantime, Smith is about to step into the most important phase of her term with the impending launch of her projects. “My first project is called 3600 for Change, which we will be using to target the young men in and around Manchester. And my national project will involve the twinning the roles of the JCDC and the Jamaica Tourist Board. Through this project I hope to give a new light to our culture and draw more attention to the work of these organizations.”
PRETTY WOMEN: Miss Jamaica Festival Queen, Johnnel Smith, and JCDC Executive Director Grace Silvera attend the 2010 JCDC Excellence Awards at New Kingston's Knutsford Court Hotel on Thursday.