The year is 2020, a Saturday evening in February and I am in Grenada for the first time to attend the highly anticipated Face of Grenada pageant. A full day of travel just from Tortola but the opportunity to experience the Spice Island, its people, plus stay in one of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean – Silver Sands Grenada – was so worth it.
Usha Thomas, the then 26-year-old aspiring model won the 2020 Face of Grenada tile – the honour and responsibility of positively inspiring more young women like her to be “a beauty with a purpose”. On behalf of Caribbean POSH, I’ve pledged to provide her a platform to help elevate her message.
What no one could have known is that just a month later the world would be placed on pause as the COVID 19 pandemic swept across the globe.
Flash forward to August 2021, the pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. It would take us a while to coordinate given all the uncertainty happening around us. Connected for an e-interview to learn that Usha remains self-assured, poised, and after a few ups and downs since her first competition in 2017, she is ready to take on the world of high fashion to continue her love of modeling and runway – all the while reflecting courage and the “heart of a lion.”
Posh: Who are you?
Usha: I am 27-year-old Usha Thomas. I am from Pure Grenada, also known as the “Spice of the Caribbean.” I am highly ambitious and success-driven. I’ve overcome many obstacles and rejections in pursuing my career as a professional model. This has made me very strong, so much so that I describe myself now as having a lion’s heart!
Posh: What is the most memorable thing from your childhood?
Usha: The most memorable thing from my childhood life so far would have to be my first entry in Grenada’s Next Top Model Runway Competition in 2017. I embody the true picture of perseverance and dedication. I didn’t have any experience in modeling but I purposed in my heart to not give up. I always preached to myself: “practice, practice, practice; block out negative energy and thoughts and stay humble.” And it certainly paid off as I emerged the winner.
Posh: What was it like growing up in Grenada?
Usha: While I had an overall decent upbringing by my parents, growing up in Grenada was challenging due to being constantly bullied. I dealt with that mostly when I was developing into a teenager and it became even more of a struggle in my pursuit to becoming a model.
Posh: What are the favorite things you like to do on Saturdays or Sunday afternoon?
Usha: Some of my favorite things to do on Sunday afternoons is going to the beach with my best friend Precilla Noel. I also enjoy shooting runway videos and pictures and looking at some of my favorites TV Shows such as The Chi and Love Island.
Posh: What would you say are the top three indicators that someone is from Grenada?
Usha: Three top indicators that someone is from Grenada would be that they enjoy our national dish “Oil Down”, our unique dialect and special slang such as ‘Yuh Geh Tru’ which means something was a success, and thirdly, our annual “Spicemas” event – particularly our J’Ouvert ( which features the forever traditional Jab Jab band).
Posh: What are Grenadians’ pride and joy?
Usha: In my opinion, Grenadians’ main pride and joy is our J’Ouvert, during the Carnival Season.
Posh: You have mentioned on numerous occasions that you aspire to be a fashion model. Why are you interested in that particular career?
Usha: I am highly interested in becoming a fashion model. I will say modeling chose me. As I’ve previously mentioned, I was constantly bullied as a child. I. can remember vividly that children would make fun of my skin, height, size and my eye-teeth, which they referred to as “vampire teeth.” I never really loved myself. I had low self-esteem and low self-confidence. I had developed depression and anxiety. I always thought I was never enough, or beautiful enough, but that all changed the moment I stepped onto that runway of Grenada’s Next Top Model competition. It was as if I felt a powerful rush come through my body. I felt powerful, loved, appreciated, and beautiful. It was at that moment I had a different view of myself and what true beauty really is. Hence the reason why I want to model for the rest of my God-given life. I can truthfully say modeling saved me.
Posh: What would be your goals as a model? How do see yourself progress in this field?
Usha: I see myself progressing in the modeling field if I’m given the opportunity to really showcase myself. I can state that my strong area is the runway. Once given the opportunity to model designs, it will definitely be a self progression for me. Also, with me practicing my poses and walk regularly, I will never stop learning. Everyday you learn something new that you never knew existed. Staying educated about the industry will help in my career path as well.
Posh: Imagine you became a successful model five to ten years from now. What do you envision being written about you?
Usha: I envision that in the future, magazines will feature three mains things about me…one, my continued humble personality, secondly, my accomplishments in the modeling field, and finally, in the ways I help make the world a better place especially for young girls who go through confidence issues.
Posh: Who would you say is your most admired supermodel and why?
Usha: The model I most admire is The Naomi Campbell. She embodies elegance, strength, perseverance, sophistication, and black woman power. Her runway walk is beyond this world and her poses are breathtaking. She also encourages people to do their best and keep working towards their goals.
Posh: What international designer brand would you be most excited to work for if given the chance?
Usha: There are so many amazing international designer brands I would be excited to work for but I will only name a few. If given the chance, I would absolutely love to represent the big leagues such as Versace, Olivier Rousteing (Balmain), and Chanel, but I would be honored to also represent some of our Caribbean International brands e.g.Anya, Ayoung-Chee, and Rihanna.
Posh: Why did you choose to enter the Face of Grenada?
Usha: I chose to become involved with an organization called Face of Grenada (FOG) because of what it stands for. The goal of FOG is celebrate the beauty and talents of women of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique, providing them with the tools and opportunities to follow their dreams as models, while producing an event where the selected winner embarks on either a socio-economical or environmental issue, hence the motto being: “Beauty with a Purpose.” The organization focuses on environmental and community issues, addresses them and comes up with ways to help reduce, mitigate, or stop them while promoting a cause through a fashion and modeling lens. I am excited to be a part of this. I also joined because of the networking opportunities and additional exposure it gives me. Lastly, I adore the runway, and that alone continues to drive me to participate.
Posh: Women make up 49 percent of the global workforce. What do you believe is the most important issue facing women in the workplace today and why?
Usha: The most important issue facing the modeling workforce is sexual harassment, especially from those in the higher positions. Women are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. This definitely needs to stop. I pray that women get the strength to leave, or speak up about this issue. Do not stay in a bad, unethical situation just because of fear, status, or money.
I would tell women in my community that it is okay to have fears or to be nervous. It’s in our human nature, but the problem arises when you allow that fear to overpower you and cause you to not go after your goal – whatever it may be. I have some fears, even while taking pictures, but you have to remember that when you let that fear take over your soul, you will never make a start towards reaching your goal – much less finishing it. In other words, you can use that fear to push yourself to go harder after your goal. It really begins with your mind; your thoughts. So, think that you can do it. Think only that and just do exactly what’s needed to be done to reach that goal, and I guarantee you will be successful and make a huge mark on society.
Posh: How do you silence your insecurities?
Usha: I silence my insecurities by repeating affirmations. I tell myself that I am worthy, I can do it it. According to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown, I tell myself, “It’s possible and it’s necessary.” I listen to songs with positive and uplifting messages. I also tell myself that our insecurities make us who we are. It makes YOU unique and purposeful.
Posh: During your reign as the 2020 Face of Grenada your primary focus will be on the environment in your community. What are the most pressing environmental issues currently?
Usha: Speaking of other issues in my community such as the most pressing environmental ones is waste management and subsequent negative effects associated with pollution.
Posh: What are the things that you think make the island of Grenada unique?
Usha: The things that make my home island of Grenada unique are the people who are very hospitable, helpful, and friendly; our national dish, and of course, the celebration of J’Ouvert!
Posh: If you could change one law in your country, what would it be and why?
Usha: The question of what law in my country would I change and why? This is a tough question, as there are so many social and economic issues, but perhaps one notable one to mention is the need for more stringent penalties for pedophiles and rapists.
Posh: What have you already done to promote your platform?
Usha: On another positive note, I have created an upcycle Instagram account showcasing various ways in which you can transform your used and unwanted clothing into something fashionable. I’ve also had an upcycle competition on the Instagram platform, encouraging the act of upcycling. I am planning to visit various secondary schools to do presentations on the topic on the benefits of upcycling and the issues that arises from polluting landfills with textiles. Also, in the planning stage is an upcycling competition between secondary school students while educating them on the topic.
Posh: What are your plans going forward in 2021?
Usha: My personal plans going forward in 2021 are to continue to work towards getting recognized by a modeling agency or casting/scouting agents. I am also planning to travel to pursue my modeling career, and to continue to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program.
Posh: What are some things you feel everyone should be doing to protect the environment?
Usha: As to community plans and how people can assist in protecting the environment, would be to discourage littering and using garbage bins to dispose of waste; reducing the amount of textile waste in our landfills; using recycling methods where it is possible both in household and industrial levels; and perhaps most importantly, organizing community cleanup days to promote a clean and protected environment.