Miss Bermuda excited despite not winning Miss World
Miss Bermuda Lillian Lightbourn may not have walked away with the top prize for Miss World 2014 but she did win a dance audition that saw her performing near the front of the stage before a global audience of one billion.
The contestants had to audition if they wanted to be near the front of the opening ceremony when the girls performed dances from select countries and the Bermudian beauty queen's limited experience of dancing for her church paid off.
Although she did not perform our traditional Gombey dance, she was wearing a daring dress designed by New York's Chinaza Moses that was inspired by the Bermuda bluebird.
Speaking from her London hotel room just a few hours after the competition ended yesterday evening, Miss Lightbourn told The Royal Gazette: “I got a chance to really put myself out there like I never have before.
“The competition opened up with a performance by LMFAO and right after that we performed the Dances of the World.
“Before we went up they said, ‘right, there are one billion people watching you right now,' and I thought, oh no! Why did you have to tell us that? I just thought, Lillian, do not mess up and I did the whole thing flawlessly — it was amazing.
“I am so happy that I can say that I danced on TV on the E! channel for one billion people.
“That's a chance I don't think I'll ever get again because I'm not a dancer but to say that I did that in my life, I am really proud of that.
“It was really incredible because it was the first time it was done before a live audience — they usually pre-record it.”
Miss Lightbourn had to learn dances from countries including Scotland, Africa, India and Bolivia but said she did not realize she could have taken the Gombey dance to the stage.
She said she was determined to try to get the next Miss Bermuda to learn a routine to show off to the world during next year's competition.
“No one really told me I should do it and I didn't realise but we could easily have put together a dance inspired by the Gombeys,” she said.
“If I could give any advice to the next Miss Bermuda I would say, just put yourself out there, they might like the dance and want to do it in the opening performance. If she wants to do it I will help her.”
The glittering Miss World grand final took place yesterday at the ExCel London ICC Auditorium. Miss South Africa, Rolene Strauss, was crowned Miss World, while Hungary's Edina Kulcsar was runner-up.
Miss Lightbourn did not win an award but placed in the top 25 for the People's Choice Award — out of 121 entrants.
The support didn't just come from tiny Bermuda.
“The fashion community in New York had my back — the designers and fashion models were posting about me on Instagram,” Miss Lightbourn said. “Then there was my church in New York City, they were voting for me as well and everyone in Bermuda and a lot of Bermudians who live in London. I was glad that everyone pitched in it really showed me how much support I had.”
Miss Lightbourn said the multimedia category was the most enjoyable part of the competition for her, aside from the dance performance.
“It was for people who used their Facebook and Twitter the best or who attracted international headlines,” she said. “Because Bermuda is small I didn't get the headlines but it was still my favourite one because before I left I did a photo shoot in all my dresses. That was the most enjoyable part. The modelling and stuff was okay but I am used to that.”
One of Miss Lightbourn's dresses was designed by Rochelle Minors, winner of Miss Bermuda in 2012, who dropped off a gown for her at short notice.
“It wasn't a typical pageant dress,” she said. “It was more like a dress you would see during Fashion Week and I really liked it. It was black and cream with the back cut out.”
Asked whether her nerves ever got to her, Miss Lightbourn admitted: “I was nervous about my close-up for the cameras when they call your country because during rehearsals I kept messing it up.
“I was nervous I would miss the close-up and there would be no one standing there for Bermuda. I was also afraid I was going to step on someone's train because there were dresses everywhere.”
Miss Lightbourn said she made many friends through the experience and that she would stay in touch with many of them, including her roommate Miss British Virgin Isles, Rosanna Chichester.
She now plans to launch her Beauty with a Purpose campaign, which aims to persuade models in the fashion industry to back worthy charities and organisations.
She also has a busy schedule ahead, and will be meeting with modelling agencies in New York from Friday after they requested interviews with her.