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Date Posted: Saturday, October 11, 06:44:03pm
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Gabrielle Walcott... Living in the moment
BY TEISHAN DIXON
She’s a hazel-eyed beauty whose face has graced the glossy pages of several Caribbean magazines and local billboards.
But don’t expect a diva attitude from reigning Miss T&T World delegate, Gabrielle Walcott. Behind the glamour is a warm, friendly, intelligent young woman who is so much more than just another beauty queen.
The early years
“I was born and raised right here in Petit Valley,” said Walcott, of her childhood years. “I come from a large family and a very large extended family.”
According to her, her fondest memories are of attending many large family gatherings, playing cricket on the beach, and going crab hunting with her cousins.
“I have so many cousins, and a lot of them are around my age, so we all grew up together and shared the same experiences,” she said.
During her days at Providence Girls’, Walcott, who later went on to major in visual arts and minor in theatre arts at the University of the West Indies, recalls art being the subject she always showed the most interest in.
“My days at Providence seem so long ago,” she said laughing. “Sometimes I really long for those days again. When you’re in it, you ask yourself, ‘How can people say that these are the best days of your life?’ and then you’re out of it, you think, ‘how easy I had it back then’.
“My favourite subject was always art, and I remember and miss all my teachers. I made life-long friends at Providence. Those are memories I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Robin Thicke’s video
Apart from her modelling and pageant escapades, Walcott has several other interests including dance, pilates, photography and hockey. Chief, however, is her love for theatre and acting.
She even expressed a desire to pursue an international acting career.
“I actually studied theatre arts at HB Studios in New York,” she said. “I would love to act full-time. I once did a play while I was in New York, and it was a great feeling being able to inhabit a character and become that character.”
When asked whether she thought winning the Miss T&T World title gave her an advantage in becoming popular in the acting industry, Walcott said that she saw ways in which the two opportunities could boost each other.
“The experience of being Miss Trinidad and Tobago is both similar and different to being an actress. Being Miss T&T World forced me to be the best Gabrielle Walcott I can be.
“And it’s me in the spotlight for the world to see, not me being someone else,” she said. “Miss World can sharpen my acting abilities in that it helps me to be more poised and more confident within myself, on and off the stage.”
In 2005, Walcott had the opportunity to showcase some of her acting talents internationally when she played the lead role in international R&B star, Robin Thicke’s video, Wanna Love U Girl.
“The whole thing was very exciting. I’ve done other videos, but that was my first lead role,” she said. “It was a bit challenging, seeing that I had to appear to love someone who in actual reality is a stranger to me, so my training in acting came in handy there.
The video took a week to be completed and was shot in the Dominican Republic. It wasn’t all glamour; it took a lot of work and a lot of discomfort. I have a lot of respect for everyone who played a part in it.”
Walcott’s life has not been all rainbows and butterflies. She, too, like everyone else, has faced her share of perils, including losing her maternal aunt to breast cancer while still in her teens.
“When my aunt found out she had cancer, she left for Canada right away to get treatment,” said Walcott. “Because of that, I was unable to see her for many years. When she left, she looked healthy. But when she returned, she looked so frail. The cancer had really taken its toll.”
Reality about her aunt’s dire situation hit home for Walcott one sombre afternoon.
“My mom, sister and I were out driving, and I saw my mom break down in tears. Seeing her pain, seeing the family’s pain, left so much of an impact.”
This misfortune was what inspired Walcott to later become heavily involved with the Just Because Foundation, a non-profit organisation aimed at providing practical and emotional support for parents and siblings of young cancer patients.
“When the opportunity arose to join, I jumped at it, because I know from experience that when someone has cancer, it affects all their loved ones.”
Walcott’s misfortunes, however, did not end with the death of her aunt. Crime also hit home when she and her sister Heidi were robbed at gun-point at their home a little over a year ago.
“The first thing I did was start to pray,” she recalled. “My sister told me that I actually said the entire rosary out loud. I remember at one point during the robbery, they tried to separate us, but I grabbed Heidi and told them, “No, you are not going to separate us at any point and time. We’re staying together.”
Walcott also expressed grief over the current crime situation plaguing the country.
“I think it’s sad that a nation that has so much to offer has deteriorated to this state. I believe crime is a thing that starts in your neighbourhood and your community, and that is where the problem must be initially addressed.
“I do hope that as a nation, we can get back to the point where we feel safe in our homes and our communities.”
Walcott admitted that entering and winning a beauty pageant was one of her life-long dreams.
“I’m not going to kid around and say that I never wanted to be a beauty queen. It was always a dream of mine,” she said. “I remember meeting Wendy Fitzwilliam at Crews Inn once, and I was totally in awe of her, and I had a feeling about her that she would win, and I told my dad about it.
“The night she won the Miss Universe title, I was watching at home with my family, and when I saw her win, I knew that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be Miss T&T.”
Asked whether she felt pressure in taking the baton from last year’s Miss T&T-World Valene Maharaj, Walcott admitted to feeling some pressure, but said she viewed Maharaj as an inspiration.
“Are you kidding? Of course I feel pressure,” she said, laughing. “It’s funny you should ask me that, because I am now in possession of the same pair of heels she wore on the night of the pageant, and I’m using them to practice. I feel like I have Cinderella’s slippers, and I have to fill those shoes in a literal and figurative sense.
“I’ve been told by several persons who worked with her during her preparation for the pageant that she is such a sweet person. They never had one bad thing to say about her, and that in itself is a goal to reach.”
Walcott described being Miss T&T World as a challenging but enjoyable learning experience.
“It’s been very telling. You really have no idea what it takes until you’re in it,” she said. “As a pageant representative, you don’t just learn how to walk the right way and to do your hair and make-up. You’re taught how to be the best you can be, and how to really connect with people and touch their lives.
“Peter Elias is always telling me: ‘Live this moment, and let it enrich your life,’ and that is the greatest lesson I’ve learnt thus far.”
Walcott leaves to compete at the Miss World pageant on November 14.
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