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Miss Belize Exclusive Interview

Ambergris Today had the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon with the reigning Miss Belize, Tanisha Vernon, this past weekend and enjoyed the company of an articulate, friendly, career driven beauty queen; yet she confessed of being a sporty tomboy while growing up.

And one could never imagine Tanisha growing up as a tomboy, as when you meet her you are greeted by a polite, well mannered and poised 20-year old who immediately charms you with her friendliness and grace.

Amidst all the controversy that is currently surrounding Pageants Belize, Tanisha stands strong behind her morals, values and aspirations which are helping her prepare for her participation in the Miss Universe Pageant which will take place in Vietnam in July. This she strives in doing on her own drive without the assistance of Pageants Belize and Margaret Johnson.

Just last week Miss Belize, along with other current and past beauty queens, came out in the open about wrong-doings of Pageants Belize owner/coordinator Margaret Johnson with claims of missing money, missing prizes and broken promises.

Tanisha explained to Ambergris Today that she is not doing this because she wants to claim her prizes that were promised to her upon winning the Miss Belize title, but she strongly believes that she is doing the right thing in standing up for her fellow beauty pageant winners. She was not afraid to have been the first to stand up and expose the truth about all the empty promises and unachieved expectations that Margaret Johnson promised all the girls. Tanisha believes Belize can have great representation abroad with the proper preparation and assistance, but that this is not happening with the current management.

And this is why Tanisha wants to put all of this turmoil behind her and is fighting to separate herself from Pageants Belize so she can start fundraising on her own and make it to the Miss Universe Pageant coming up in July. In fact, Tanisha has already started in her quest in getting prepared for the prestigious pageant. She has already made many contacts in Mexico and the US which will aid her is completing her wardrobe and all the accessories needed for the Miss Universe Pageant.

“I have a wonderful seamstress/designer from Tegucigalpa, Honduras who is helping me in designing and creating a one of a kind wardrobe,” commented Tanisha Vernon. “I am so excited and happy to have gotten the support of all my family and friends, both local and abroad. I am very positive and optimistic that I will be a great beauty representative for Belize at the Miss Universe Pageant.”

Tanisha Vernon is currently a student at Galen University in San Ignacio concentrating in International Studies. She will be hosting several fundraising events to help her raise the funds necessary to travel to Vietnam for the Miss Universe Pageant. Ambergris Today has promised Tanisha to help her in her quest. We will keep you updated on her progress, ways to sponsor her and future fundraising events.

Beauty Queens Revolt Against Pageants Belize Organizer
(from 7 News, Belize City)

She is Miss Belize Universe and should represent Belize at the Miss Universe Pageant in Vietnam on July 28. But on Thursday, February 28, 20-year-old Tanisha Vernon put all of that on the line when she spoke out against Pageants Belize and its owner and only employee – Margaret Johnson.

Vernon along with other current and past beauty queens laid out their case against Johnson at a press conference on Thursday evening at the Radisson Hotel. They vented for nearly an hour about everything from missing money, missing prizes, and broken promises. And the best part about it is that Margaret Johnson was there to respond to the allegations.

The beauty queens – Miss Belize World Felicita Arzu, Miss Belize Universe 2006 Maria Jeffrey, and reigning Miss Belize Tanisha Vernon say they were abandoned and mistreated by Margaret Johnson.

According to Felicitia Arzu, Miss Belize World, on October 2007 she was heading to the Miss World Pageant being held in China, which she had been training for about 15 months arduously, but upon her arrival at he International Airport, Pageants Belize did not have secure plane ticket for her. “I received my plane ticket about five minutes before leaving and it wasn’t because of Margaret Johnson, it was because of the generosity of Mr. Johnny Briceno and the Belize Tourism Board,” commented Arzu. “Pageants Belize could have cared less whether I left or not. I boarded the flight to China with US$125 and no visa for China. When I left Belize on that day I was completely disoriented.”

Also making an appearance was Maria Jeffery, Miss Belize Universe 2006, she commented that she wasn’t sure whether Pageants Belize has a committee since they only talk to one person and when it comes to sponsorship it was very difficult.

“Yes I did receive many dresses but from what I heard, my sponsorship exceeded much more than I had received,” stated Maria. “I also know that I had received, various people have come to me and told me that they had given gifts through Miss Johnson to me which I have not received or seen. I would just like for them to look into what’s happening with this committee because something is wrong.”

“I am appealing to her integrity and decency to end all ties with pageantry in Belize. Give someone who has the interest of young ladies and pageants and the love of our country a chance to showcase our girls and have them excel representing Belize,” stated Tanisha Vernon, Miss Belize Universe.

“I know it is risk that I might not get to go to and have the experiences like these young ladies that are standing beside me but I believe that I will gain at the end and not only prizes or the experiences but respect. The overall thing is just respect.”

The woman at the center of the controversy is Margaret Johnson. She showed uninvited to the press conference and sat through the entire press conference – copiously taking notes and recording the session.

“I respect what they said; I don’t see it as that. I respect what they said, I don’t see it as that because I feel like these young ladies have used Pageants Belize to get where they want to go,” commented Johnson. “Some of them got there by the skin of their teeth but for their life, the rest of their life, they will have on their bio the experience that they have there. So they benefit from going there, the experience, the speech – all the stuff that they’ve learnt – they have benefited. Like I said everything hasn’t been perfect for all of them but I’ve honored the deal I made with them that I would get them to their pageants and we did.”

Among the beauty queens supporting this were, Miss Mini Belize Universe 7-year-old Venneisha Price was there and her mom Sharifa Tillett spoke on her behalf. Leilah Pandy – Miss Belize Earth and Miss Belize Top Model – Tracey Robateau, who were out of the country but sent statements in support.

Johnson said that despite the harsh words, she does not intend to strip Vernon of her title. Tanisha Vernon is appealing to members of the public to help her fund her trip to Vietnam. Margaret Johnson plans to call her own press conference and make her case to the public.

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