What do you call an island girl filled with determination and drive, a former Miss America and Miss universe Contestant, a successful news reporter, model and student? I'm not sure what you would call her, but I'd call her Janeisha John and my fourth platform featured queen! Her list of accomplishments is endless, but one thing that radiates far more than any of her amazing talents or conquests is her humility. She is by far, a stunner, and an achiever of things that some of us can only dream of. But she's never lost sight of where she's come from and she's never forgotten that her duty is to serve those around her and make them proud. It is so exciting to have such an amazing woman take part in my project and platform to promote the benefits of pageantry. So, take a glimpse at Janeisha's Interview. Nothing short of amazing.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi Aniska, it’s truly an honor to be featured as a former queen on your blog! A little bit about myself, I am former Miss US Virgin Islands 2007-2008 and Miss US Virgin Islands Universe 2010-2011. I graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2009 with my BA in Business Admin/Marketing. Currently I am a General News Reporter at CBS-TV2 News 2, as well as a VJ/ Host for TEMPO Networks. I am a lover of the arts, anything involving music, fashion, dance, art, film, photography, modeling, etc… I somehow mysteriously find myself involved lol but I love it though! I love bread and cheese (I grew up in a bakery, shoutout to Centerline Bakery bup bup!lol), I deny it as my favorite but I always steer towards the color pink, I love traveling, love spending time with family, and in recent years have become somewhat of a beach bum, guess that’s the island girl in me!
What made you compete for not one, but two internationally prestigious titles (Miss Virgin Islands, Miss Virgin Islands Universe)?
Well some might call it the “pageant itch” lol, they say once you run for one you keep running for them. For me though, it was more of a challenge to be able to represent my islands on what many see as the “grandest stage” in pageantry. At Miss America I was very young and not fully aware of the opportunities that came with competing in an international and national competition, so after Miss America I decided to give it another whirl and compete for Miss VI Universe. I actually had to wait almost two years for the committee to gather contestants because they couldn't find enough girls to compete, but once they did it was GO time for me! Being the first and only queen thus far to capture both titles is truly an honor, but I’m hoping that one of these days one of my other Miss VIs will continue that legacy, maybe one day it’ll be you Aniska. ;-).
What do you feel is the hugest benefit to a young woman competing in pageants?
Well everyone benefits from pageantry in different ways, but for me the hugest benefit would be finding a sense of self. Being able to identify myself, build my character and grasp a firmer understanding of who I am as a woman was amazing to me. I found my voice, my purpose, and that is something that I can carry with me forever; and I think that many other young women discover this after competing in pageants.
What did you learn about yourself during the pageant?
I learned that I am not perfect and that not being perfect is a beautiful thing. International pageants can be the most humbling experience for any woman. You will discover your weaknesses but most importantly your strengths, and for me finding my strengths and weaknesses has made me a person who isn’t afraid to take risks and also isn’t afraid of failure.
Do you think that pageants are a good opportunity for young women? Why or Why not?
I am a strong believer in the pageant system and I think it’s a great opportunity for young women if they choose to let it be. It takes more than just competing and winning a title. Young women have to be willing to be open-minded and see the experience as an opportunity to grow. I have pageant sisters in every state and in over 90 countries in the world and many of these women are business women, philanthropists, artists, models, TV hosts, inspirational speakers; just truly beautiful women inside and out, and I’m positive that they all can say that competing in pageants contributed to that success.
What has been your most memorable experience?
Well besides being on both the Miss America and Miss Universe stages, I would say that my most memorable experience would be my New York experience. I moved to NYC about three weeks after Miss Universe, and the experience was life changing for me. I got the opportunity to attend many events as Miss USVI, such as the Athletes vs Cancer Charity function for former Lakers player Matt Barnes along with Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA. I also attended the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, where I was able to sit front row at the Venexiana Fashion Show along with former NFL player Maurice Leggett. Front row at any NY Fashion week show is a huge deal so the media went crazy asking who I was. I must admit it felt really good to tell them I was Miss US Virgin Islands and to see the many blogs and fashion sites post it. I also had the opportunity to be a red carpet Correspondent for Project Runway Designer Mychael Knight’s Fashion Show, where I got to interview the likes of Trina, Sherri Shepherd, BBWLA’s Gloria and Laura Govan, Love & Hip Hop’s Olivia, and even Nicki Minaj’s Hair stylist. The VIP treatment in NY as Miss Virgin Islands was a great feeling but most importantly it gave me the opportunity to talk to people about my islands. The second people heard I was Miss Virgin Islands, all they wanted to know was what it’s like here and I loved telling them how amazing my home is.
In your opinion, are pageants still heavily influenced only by the beauty of the young woman, or is does it require more than that?
I honestly think it depends on which pageant system you are competing for. A pageant like Miss America is more focused on service and scholarship, so intellect plays a major role in how well you do. On the other hand, Miss Universe, which is known for having amazingly stunning titleholders, is a little sexier, in the sense that they are looking more for a model type to carry the Miss Universe brand. Overall based on my personal experiences it is much more than what appears on stage. Beauty does play a major role but so do other things, and at the end of the day these pageant systems are a franchise, so for some it’s simply viewed as a business.
If anything, has pageantry had a negative or positive effect on your self image/self esteem? How so?
In all honestly, at some point it had both negative and positive effects on my self image/self esteem. Being around amazingly tall, beautiful women, with perfect bodies, skin, and hair, who dressed up like dolls every single day is NOT easy for anybody, and can be quite intimidating. I had my days where I would second guess how I looked, how tall I was, how I dressed, etc… and reading pageant blogs that tarnished contestant’s names did not help at all! However, there was a turning point where I realized that a lot of those “perfect” girls have many flaws and I realized that everyone has insecurities, everyone has at least one thing they wish was different about them, and that’s perfectly fine. NO one is perfect and the second you accept and understand that, then you've already won. I've grown from my pageant experiences, I am now a strong person, who is fine with who I am. Some might think I’m beautiful and some others might not, at the end of the day, it’s what I think that counts.
....Hope this answers your questions Aniska. I really think what you’re doing for young women’s self esteem is amazing! It shows that you have already opened your mind to making this pageant experience a growing one! It also shows that your mind and motives are in the right place, I hope that takes you to 1stplace hon! Keep up the good work and I’m looking forward to seeing you take Miss America by storm!....