XX: THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE WAS THE DAY AFTER YOU’D BEEN CROWNED MISS WORLD TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, HOW HAS THE JOURNEY BEEN?
YSABEL BISNATH: It has been long and stressful, but also really rewarding. One of the things I loved doing most was my Beauty with a Purpose project, that took up a whole month of non-stop work. I started the Purple Pine Foundation, which is a space for children who basically can’t go to mainstream education institutions because of various conditions that they might have, whether physical or emotional, so things like from cancer to autism to psychological trauma from being bullied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The model for it is that it’s a safe space where children can go and study at their own pace, and be themselves and express themselves freely and safely. We had to do a lot of physical work behind that – locating a space, renovating it, getting all of our sponsors in. It was a big success, everyone really likes it, and everyone was in tears. A parent came up to me crying and thanking me, saying that now her child can have a real opportunity and a real chance now.
XX: WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST ABOUT GOING TO THE COMPETITION?
YB: We spend almost a month before the main competition in China, but people’s expectations kind of scare me the most. There’s so much to live up to. So many people come up to me and say they’re excited to see me perform, and I love the support but it also makes me a little bit anxious. I want to make everyone proud and do a really good job, and that’s really scary.
XX: PAGEANT PAGES ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVE BEEN RANKING THEIR TOP PICKS, AND YOU’VE SHOWN UP ON QUITE A BIT OF THE LISTS – HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT THE WHOLE WORLD SEEMS TO HAVE THEIR EYES ON YOU?
YB: I feel really excited, I feel really proud for Trinidad and Tobago that we are getting a lot of recognition as a country as a whole. I know the feedback from these sites have been that they love the national costume video we just released, and that itself is about combining and fusing lots of different ethnicities and their fashion styles all into one big costume. I love that I can take that to the big stage and represent that and show everyone what Trinidad and Tobago is about.
XX: LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR NATIONAL COSTUME. WE GOT A LITTLE SNEAK PEEK, AND WE’RE DYING TO SEE MORE! TELL US THE DETAILS!
YB: The costume is called “Celebration of our People”. It was designed by Franklyn Jagdeo and Rickey Sookdeo, who make up Hot Stuff Promotions, and it was co-produced by Tara Rampersad, she did the production side of things. The idea behind it is meant to be really multi-ethnic, while keeping in the theme of red, white, black and gold. There’s one side that is a traditional Indian sari, the other side is meant to be a ballet dancer type of frills, inspired by the French Creole and African populations, there’s a Mandarin collar and a fan that’s meant to represent the Chinese side, and the headpiece is a mash-up of Asian and Indian, and there are Spanish ruffles throughout the costume.
It’s really a callaloo type costume, much like our culture, it’s everything all in one.
XX: AND TELL US ABOUT YOUR EVENING GOWN!
YB: It was designed by Charu Lochan-Dass, but it’s a secret, so I can’t say too much, except that it’s going to be very sparkly and very spectacular.
XX: OK REAL TALK, THOUGH.. ARE YOU NERVOUS?
YB: Yes! I’m so nervous!
XX: WHAT?! WHY? THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS BACKING YOU!
YB: Yes, but that’s also really scary! Everyone is watching you and expecting you to do well! I just keep thinking I hope I don’t trip! *laughs* I just don’t want to disappoint everyone. I want to go there and do my best, and not feel like I could have done better. I want everyone to be really proud of me!
XX: WHEN DID IT HIT YOU THAT YOU WERE FINALLY LEAVING?
YB: Oh, it was [last week], when I went to Wonderful World, I picked up a set of those sleeping masks for the plane, and one said “Airplane Mode: ON”. I saw that and thought ‘OMG, I’m leaving!’. My mode has to be on now. It’s such a small moment, but that’s when I feel like it hit me.
XX: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AS YOU PREPARE FOR MISS WORLD?
YB: I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the kids that I work with, in a weird way. I thought that, because I’m older and have experienced more in my life [than they have], I’d be there to maybe help teach or inspire them, but a lot of them have had such difficult lives, and really heart-wrenching or traumatizing experiences, and they taught me a lot about perseverance and emotional strength just from them.
XX: LET’S TALK DREAMS: IF YOU WON MISS WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
YB: Ok, the first thing I’d probably do is have a nap *laughs*. And then I’d come back to Trinidad – after I fulfill my travel duties, of course – and start my own charity.
XX: OK, SO WE KNOW YOU’RE NERVOUS, BUT HOW EXCITED ARE YOU?
YB: I am 1000% excited, I wake up every day thinking, “this is my time to shine”. In a weird way, all of the small little events of my life have led up to this: going away, studying, learning, speaking different languages, learning in different countries, using all of those experiences down here with my advocacy and my platform, it all seems like it was meant to be. It couldn’t have been any different.
It all seems like it was meant to be. It couldn’t have been any different.
XX: HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU AT MISS WORLD?
YB: You can vote for me by downloading MobStar, it’s an app. Search for my name, it’ll be the one that comes up with the blue tick. When you get to my profile, you can swipe right on all my pictures and comment below. The scores are calculated from the swipes and comments.
XX: WHEN CAN WE WATCH YOU ON STAGE?
YB: The final show is on Saturday, December 8th, it’s at 9 am Trinidad time, so you’d have to have a breakfast viewing party!
XX: HOW CAN WE FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THIS JOURNEY?
YB: I’ll be posting everything on MobStar and on my official Facebook page, Miss World – Trinidad and Tobago.