When Hillary Ann Williams walked on the stage of the Miss Universe Barbados pageant last September, it was the first time she had ever competed in a beauty pageant. But in that moment, little did Hillary Ann know that seven months later she would be afforded the opportunity to wear the crown and carry the coveted title.
The Bajan beauty was crowned last Tuesday when Crown Events Inc. announced the departure of Shantel Ifill who was crowned queen on September 7, 2019 at Hilton Barbados. Ifill signed with a major London-based talent agency to pursue a professional career in modelling.
In an interview with Bajan Vibes, Hillary Ann recalled the moment that will forever change her life.
“My phone started to ring and the caller ID said it was from Natasha and Brian. My first thought was that they must be calling in relation to marketing for the upcoming 2020 show. After a great chat catching-up, they told me the great news about Shanel becoming an international model and that Beviny, who was 1st runner-up, has opted to compete again in 2020 and I was to become the new Miss Universe Barbados 2019! I was in complete shock and became instantly flooded with a mix of emotions. I was nervous, anxious, and had lots of questions, but most of all, I was excited. I [am] now Queen!” she said.
Hillary Ann admits she is over the moon about the endless possibilities this opportunity has presented. “Now, I am beyond excited for the plans that we have coming up with Miss Universe Barbados and all of our sponsors. We have some wonderful things in the pipeline that I cannot wait for Barbados to see in due course.
“It’s an honour to have the platform and the opportunity to bring this melting pot of ideas to life with this amazing Crown Events team behind me. I’m just so thrilled to be the one to fulfill the duties as Miss Universe Barbados 2019.
The Digital Marketer who works at Going Places Travel credits her time spent with the pageant for preparing her for the unexpected news.
“Having prepared for months to vie for Miss Universe Barbados, going through the process alone teaches you to always be ready for whatever life throws at you. While I certainly never expected this opportunity to present itself, I embrace it with open arms. I walked away on show night with my own individual crown and other amazing qualities that I developed thanks to the Miss Universe Barbados organisation.”
The newly crowned queen told Bajan Vibes it is an incredible honour to represent her country and to become a part of Barbadian history.
“I’ve been given the opportunity and platform to add my voice to the things that I am extremely passionate about. This is my opportunity to encourage others to chase their dreams, not let anybody or anything define your destiny and to always be open to what the Universe may have for you that you least expected. The world is yours!”
Hillary Ann said she entered the show hoping to grow, and that she did. “I entered Miss Universe Barbados because I saw the potential opportunity to grow in all aspects of my life. Sometimes I get too comfortable with routine and familiarity, so it was time to completely step out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons to reach my full potential.”
She continued: “Never in my 24 years would I have ever pictured myself in a pageant, but this has turned into one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Having been through this pageant process, I can say my favourite part has been the training. It helps you grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Now, thanks to the pageant, Hillary confesses that she lives in the moment. She is thriving to be her best self.
“One of the most valuable lessons that I learned was to always live in the moment. The whole process of Miss Universe Barbados goes by so quickly, from being a delegate to show night. And in that short space of time, you are going to grow in ways you never thought possible. You will be forced to look at the world in entirely different ways, through the new experiences, the new people you will meet, and the opportunities that will come knocking. You really have to soak it all in by living fully in every moment, while being your best self.”
Hillary Ann explained that getting herself ready for the pageant involved not only physical but also mental and emotional preparation. “It was an incredible balancing act, but overall, the process kept me on my toes. I practise these things to this day, because practice makes permanent!”
If she was given absolute power, the 24-year-old queen said she would use her voice to help fill the gaps she sees in lack of mentorship, unconventional learning spaces, and non-traditional career opportunities to guide our youth to a better and more sustainable future.
“We need to encourage our youth to keep dreaming and shoot for the stars. We should be inspiring and encouraging our youth to fulfill their dreams, and giving them the tools to make those dreams come true, and not just fill job spaces.
“With that being said, we must provide guidance, support, and opportunities for them to turn their abilities into reality. We are still heavily focused mainly on the traditional path of study that often results in many students who are gifted in unconventional ways being left behind.”
Her advice to the youth especially those interested in pageantry is clear: “Just go for it! Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ moment because the perfect time to step outside of your comfort zone is now. Sometimes you just need to go for it. The greatest things happen outside of your comfort zone. It’s much more rewarding than looking back and always wondering ‘what if’.”
Hillary Ann is eagerly looking forward to the “exciting” months ahead. She is “ecstatic” about continuing her work in a greater capacity with I Am A Girl Barbados.
However, she is also excited to fulfill her own aspirations with the help of the Miss Universe Barbados team. “When I was a delegate, I was always so passionate about inspiring, empowering, and investing in our youth. It is so important because the future belongs to them. And we owe it to them to provide changes for the better. Every single one of them must have equal access to education and opportunity, despite their circumstances, and I want to play a vital role in effecting the changes we need.”
Hillary Ann says her ideal goal is to become a travelling food blogger, combining her two favourite things: eating and travel. “I love the idea of adventuring my way through this beautiful world of ours, experiencing different cultures, foods and meeting new people and hearing their stories. I love going to the gym and releasing my endorphins in a healthy, positive way.” (IMC)