Behind her caramel-coloured eyes, and the mystique that hides along the curves of her almost superb physique, is the sophistication and confidence of a young woman who views pageantry as a sport.
But after years of training others and competing locally and internationally, Jyoti Hardat says she is ready for something new. The stunning 26-year-old Guyanese born diva is now the new National Director of the Miss Universe Guyana franchise.
Based in New York City, USA, Hardat is also the Co-CEO and Managing Partner of the RB2020 Production and Event Management Company. And if the aforementioned aren’t enough to keep her busy, she also handles competently, the tasks that come with being the National Director of the Miss Tourism USA Franchise.
In this exclusive interview with the News Room , Hardat shares with us, her plans to change the dynamics of pageantry and how it is held in Guyana while raising the bar several notches for the competition to follow.
News Room (NR): You have been a fierce competitor the world of Pageantry. Do explain for us what prompted you to now be involved in the business aspect of this industry?
Jyoti Hardat (JH): I have been training beauties for the pageant stage (for interview and fitness segments) for many years. Due to my background in the fight against domestic violence, I started competing in pageantry to use it as a platform to raise more awareness and to further develop myself in areas I never knew could be developed.
I’m very passionate about working with young women to help develop them into well-rounded individuals and I know that this is greatly needed in the world of pageantry in Guyana.
Having competed in the MISS UNIVERSE GUYANA® pageant a few years ago, and witnessing firsthand the way pageantry is managed there, I desired to create a standard and an environment of fairness and empowerment to the confidently beautiful women, who can use this pageant as a stepping stone to achieve their dreams.
After years of hard work and the support of those who believed that I can make a difference, I was given the opportunity to partner with the MISS UNIVERSE® Organization and thereby, accepted the position of National Director of the MISS UNIVERSE GUYANA® pageant.
Additionally, I have been producing and directing pageants in the USA for the past four years. From the state levels of Miss Earth USA to the national level of the Miss Tourism USA pageant, I have been able to successfully produce pageants of high quality while gathering endorsements from government officials and worldwide sponsors.
With my extensive network, my experience both as a director/producer and previous competitor and my motivation to create safe and fair pageants for the beautiful women of Guyana, I opted to be on the management side.
I believe the management should reflect the true values of the pageant and it should be willing to fulfill the mission of developing our confidently beautiful women to go beyond their limitations and to challenge them to get out of their comfort zones, push their personal envelopes and be fearless.
NR: Does this mean that we will not be seeing you participating in pageants in the near or distant future?
JH: There’s a time and a season for everything under the sun. It is important to realize your purpose at different stages of your growth process. I’ve had my fair share of pageants before and I am quite comfortable with where I am today and what I would have accomplished from my participation in past.
I can safely say I gained knowledge and moreover, I built a platform that is relevant and purposeful not only for pageants, but for the development of women in its entirety. Our Guyanese women can benefit more from me as a director because I have their best interests at heart.
NR: What different will you and your partner be bringing to the table where this pageant is concerned?
JH: MISS UNIVERSE® is often overlooked in many areas. Many people see MISS UNIVERSE® as just a ‘glitz and glam’ experience. As much as looking your best is important, conduct, discipline, grit and presence are important. Over the years, I’ve seen our country send very impressive girls to the international competition, but in most cases, they lack confidence, presence and professional training. MISS UNIVERSE® demands personality and energy.
An assessment of all of these push factors influenced my partner, Derek Moore and I, to ensure we design programmes and systems that will prepare our local winner in an impressive manner so that her confidence never falters. We live in a world where girls are preparing for the world of pageantry from a very young age and so they live and breathe pageantry as opposed to our country choosing a representative a few days before. This year we are trying to tackle all of these shortcomings to send the most consistent girl.
NR: What new have you done thus far since becoming the new franchise holder?
JH: Upon becoming the new franchise holder/national director, I visited the headquarters on multiple occasions to complete the necessary formalities and to keep our relations alive. I also used this as an opportunity to show that I am a dedicated director and I am willing to go the extra mile to ensure my country stays on their radar. Aside from that, I’ve been reviewing the applications received thus far, in preparation for our one-on-one interviews. Also, I’ve attended countless meetings with potential sponsors and investors, so that the girls are given the best experience and development tools possible and a prize package fit for a queen.
NR: When did the search start for the contestants and what are the criteria?
JH: The search has already begun; we are looking for young women with a sense of character, women who embody uniqueness and are confidently beautiful in their own skin. Delegates must have a sense of purpose, remembering that she is a role model, not only for the pageant, but for her country and the people she represents. Her conduct must be that of a young woman that takes pride in everything she does. Delegates must be single, 18 years of age but no older than 27 on January 1, 2016. They must not been married and have never given birth.
NR: When is the pageant scheduled to be held and what can patrons expect?
JH: The pageant will be in August of this year but a date is yet to be released. We will keep you guys posted at the earliest time possible. Guests can expect to be enticed by empowered young women ready to display themselves at a level which they have never seen before. Our pageant will be held with prestige and quality in all areas.
NR: How will the new franchise holders seek to train the young ladies for the dreaded final question round?
JH: Very often, the final question is based on trending topics, opinions and the contestant’s ability to think logically and promptly. Being informed is key in tackling the final question. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not as difficult and I believe it’s completely overrated. We intend on having the contestants build on their habits to speak and express themselves without fear, but with sophistication and confidence. A popular saying goes “It’s not what you say but the manner in which you say it” and I couldn’t agree with that more.
My team and I intend to work with the contestants on the manner in which they speak, including tone and dialect while keeping them in touch with their inner abilities and working towards bringing out their thoughts in the best way possible. Once that is tackled, the final question shouldn’t be an issue.
There will also be many opportunities during the pageant week where the general public will be able to interact with our delegates at the events we are planning, including the charity gala/sashing ceremony. Public speaking is a fear many face but interaction with the public during these events, will help to alleviate the fear as they head into the final coronation night.
NR: What has pageantry meant to you over the years and how has it shaped the woman you have become today?
JH: Since my older sister was murdered in 2007 by her fiancé, I’ve battled with anxiety and depression. Pageantry was a platform for me to step out of my comfort zone and spread domestic violence awareness. Through pageantry, I’ve met the most like-minded and uplifting set of people that have shared their experiences with me.
I was lucky enough to have glimpses into lives from around the world and because of them; I now have a newfound appreciation for life and what it can offer. Their stories have encouraged me to never settle for less and to never give up on my dreams. I’m most thankful to the pageant industry because it has thoroughly molded me in to the strong, independent and grateful woman that I am today.
With my experiences and resources, I am now able to give back and to create a pageant system that not only gives opportunities to those who work for it, but also to create a sisterhood where the women involved will be able to see each other in a different light and not just as competitors.
NR: The Miss World Pageant has removed the swim suit segment. How do you feel about this move and is it something you would advocate for the Miss Universe title?
JH: Each pageant system is different and the Miss World Pageant is doing whatever they deem best for their pageant and I respect that, however for the MISS UNIVERSE® Pageant it’s not something I would advocate because it meticulously showcases the lifestyle and consistency of a girl.
In the process of fitness training, one has to be determined, disciplined and unswerving in order to obtain a fit body. Not only does this segment of the pageant show off physical fitness but it shows off their mental strength and what their determination level is-which are two very important characteristics to have in order to become a strong contestant in a competition such as the MISS UNIVERSE® pageant.