Kaci Fennell, better known as Miss Universe Jamaica, flew in to the Cayman Islands last week to co-host Cayman Mardi Gras and stayed for a few days to enjoy a tour of an island she had never visited.
Ms. Fennell became the subject of international media headlines when she was chosen as fourth runner-up in the Miss Universe competition on Jan. 25 in Miami. Many felt she was the clear favorite to win, and as she stepped up to accept her prize, boos were clearly heard from disappointed members of the audience.
Websites from the Daily Mail and US Weekly to eonline and Miami New Times weighed in on the news that Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, had won the crown. As a result, Ms. Fennell has received a great deal of media attention and support from her home country and abroad.
“It’s been wonderful, all this love and support I’m getting,” said Ms. Fennell, who has taken the controversy in stride. “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel incredibly blessed.”
When asked about her plans for the future, Ms. Fennell got excited at the possibilities. “I love food, so I’d like to look into expanding my culinary skills,” she said, “but then I’m also interested in media and acting.
“Courtesy of Miss Universe Jamaica, I got a scholarship to the New York Film Academy, as well as a full scholarship to Caucasus University in Georgia. I’m lucky to have lots of choices right now.”
Recognizing that she is now an ambassador for Jamaica, Ms. Fennell is enthusiastic about promoting the island. “My advice to visitors would be to enjoy the sun and the beaches, but get outside your villas and resorts and mingle with the people of Jamaica. That is the true way to experience it.”
During her stay in Cayman, she appeared at the Mardi Gras, toured the island, and met with Tourism Ministry counselor Joey Hew.
Speaking of her trip to Cayman, Ms. Fennell told the Cayman Compass she had enjoyed her time here. “Cayman people are warm, friendly and the reception was amazing,” she said, adding that as well as being welcomed by Caymanians, she had also met a lot of Jamaican fans living in Cayman.
“It has been a fast-paced tour of the island since I arrived Wednesday night but it was nice,” she said.
She traveled to Cayman with Jacqueline Jackson, Jamaica’s pageant manager.
Mr. Hew had lunch with Ms. Fennell, along with Ms. Jackson, Miss Cayman Tonie Chisholm, Matthew Leslie who organized the Cayman Mardi Gras, and Derri Dacres-Lee, organizer of the Miss Cayman pageant, on Thursday. “It is fantastic for her to see our newly crowned Miss Cayman Tonie Chisholm and perhaps give her some advice and work along with the Miss Cayman Committee to give us the best chances we can at the Miss Universe Pageant, once we establish ourselves there,” Mr. Hew said.
Ms. Chisholm, who will be Cayman’s entrant in the 2016 Miss Universe, had lots of questions regarding the international pageant and Ms. Fennell’s experience as Miss Jamaica.
“It is not just about Miss Universe but the whole experience of representing your country,” said Ms. Chisholm.
Ms. Dacres-Lee, chairperson of the Miss Cayman committee, welcomed Miss Jamaica and Ms. Jackson and said the two had enjoyed the island from the time they arrived. “We had a great time at the Mardi Gras last night. Cayman is well known for its wonderful hospitality and that was what we gave to the ambassador and her chaperone … hopefully, she will be back to visit us again,” she said.