Introducing Tineke De Freitas
There was a whirlwind of an open call, a whisk of a final night, and after just two days of sorting and selecting, here's your new Miss Trinidad and Tobago for Miss World, Tineke De Freitas. She's a 23-year-old chartered accountant who has cultivated a comfort with both competition and being on-stage. And she's cute too.
This new cut-to-the-chase method of queen-making is not for the faint of heart or the flabby of limb. The Miss Trinidad and Tobago Pageant Company was blunt with the girls. With the Miss World pageant in Poland just five months away, they were looking for someone who could get emotionally and physically ready... fast. And though Tineke didn't grow up nursing dreams of sashes and tiaras (a conglomerate of friends and sisters nagged until she entered this year) she's been preparing for the stint all her life.
A one-time competitive swimmer attached to Marlin's Swim Club, she represented Trinidad and Tobago as a pre teen. She's been performing with the Dance Academy--ballet, modern and tap--since she was a child. And during the last three years, with that combination of genetic gifts and dancer's grace, she got one long, lean leg into the modeling world. The combination of past times has equipped her to perform under pressure. In fact Tineke thinks that her strength is composure.
"Honestly I was very relaxed. It was so amazing. I guess it was due to my whole mind set. I know how to perform in front of crowds and I've done modeling screenings in Toronto that were today for tomorrow. All those things contributed to my calm aura," she says with a full-bodied voice.
She's the fifth of six children--four girls and two boys--born to an accountant father and homemaker. Phrases she uses to describe her family--close-knit, deeply religious, Brady Bunch.
"My parents have always been willing to make the sacrifice so we can do whatever we wanted to do and they've given us the guidance to make sound decisions," she says. She describes herself as a child--energetic, fun, interesting, sociable, gregarious. I therefore wonder: how did she become an accountant?
"What's the appeal of accounting?" I ask.
"Is there an appeal? I heard they're boring."
So she has a sense of humour. The past pupil of Providence Girls' Catholic and St. Joseph's Convent says she' always had a penchant for working with numbers. She enjoyed accounting in school and found her groove in the tax department when she entered the world of work. Tineke has spent the last four years at Ernst and Young and completed her ACCA without a hitch a year and a half ago.
After a few local modeling gigs she was a finalist at the inaugural Ocean Style Model Search last year. One of the judges from a Canadian agency kept insisting that she try her luck in Toronto.
"I thought it was a joke initially but eventually I decided 'why not?'' I tried it and it was fantastic. I got a few gigs. I had a ball," Tineke says of her foray into the fashion world. The decision to enter Miss Trinidad and Tobago was done in the same spirit. Why not?
"I think it will make me a well rounded woman. Not just one who can go on-stage and smile. Someone who is well spoken, well read, well travelled... who picks up and go to Poland? It's an opportunity to be an ambassador," she says.
The most refreshing thing about Tineke? None of the overbearing political correctness of beauty-queens-who-don't-want-to-say-the-wrong-thing. And there were none of the faux pas of beauty-queens-who-don't-realise-they're-saying-the-wrong-thing either.
To wit: Tineke admits that while modeling in Canada she witnessed drugs being passed around like appetisers and was even offered some.
"What kind of drugs?"
"Cocaine," she unblinkingly informs. "Thankfully I was very well brought up and it wasn't hard to say no. Also I was older than many of the girls. Less impressionable."
When asked by the panel of judges (including former Miss World, Giselle La Ronde) which of the pageants she'd prefer, she responded frankly. Bring on the Universe.
And given her response and the precedent set in recent years with beauties like Magdalene Walcott and, most recently, Kenisha Thom, I ask the obvious. Does she expect to represent T&T at Miss Universe next year?
"That appears to be the trend but I'm guarded against expecting it. In any event," she shrugs "it isn't a forgone conclusion that I'd enter."