We all know the importance of the youth at Carnival. They are carrying the torch of traditions for future generations. Today I meet two inspiring young men, who participated in the Mr and Miss West Indies Beauty Pageant last year.

Ken Coco was crowned King of the pageant and Pavel Diaz, Prince, as first runner-up.
They both modelled at the UCOM band launch last year. Ken is French, with a Guadeloupean background. Supervisor at Michael Kors, He is telling me about his experience at the competition.

Why did you decide to participate in the contest?
As a French person, I wanted to put the name of my island out there.
Not a lot of people know about Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies. It was the opportunity for me to give a shout-out to my island!

Ken Coco carnival

How was the contact with the other guys?
It was really friendly. I really appreciated the journey into the pageant competition. It wasn’t about “I’m the best, I’m the winner”.
We had a Whatsapp group where we exchanged messages, greetings, inspirational quotes of the day to remind ourselves we are Kings and Queens. It really was a nice journey. On the first meeting,  I realised the contest would be challenging. Two of the contestants were to me, a big competition. But I thought that I was not going to put myself at the same level at them. I had to go with my style, that’s it!

Why do you think you won the pageant?
I think I won because I made it all about my island,  Guadeloupe. I wanted to make sure people got to know the dance, the music, the costumes. I performed the two traditional dances of Guadeloupe,  the gwo ka (with music by Akiyo) and I danced the biguine, as well (music by Rony Theophile). All of this in three minutes!
Because I only had three minutes to demonstrate two very different dances, I put my two outfits on top of each other.
The Gwo Ka outfit was attached with velcro, to give way to the Biguine outfit when taken off.
I played with the effect of surprise on stage,  by pretty much stripping! I did my research, I wanted this pageant to have a taste of Guadeloupe. As part of my costume, I also had a Ka [the traditional drum] that had been made with cardboard, by kids from school.

After your performance how did you feel and what would you say to prospective contestants?
After my performance, I felt proud. It was completely different from what the other contestants did in the past. I was really happy with it. There are a lot of Caribbean related events out there, festivals, parties, but entering the pageant is an opportunity to represent your island and your culture as an individual.
Be proud of your culture and come and shout out about it!

Ken coco image

Stay tuned for the interview of Pavel Diaz, crowned Prince of Mr and Miss West Indies 2016.

About Mr and Miss West Indies Beauty Pageant

Applications are open until the end of May 2017
Meet and greet are then scheduled to select 15 boys and 15 girls that will be invited to the beauty pageant, scheduled in October 2017.
Highlights of the show 2016: