Kathlyn Archibald-Drew was crowned Miss British Virgin Islands on Oct. 17, 2021 in the Miss British Virgin Islands Pageant. The Howard freshman exhibited Black excellence in and out of the classroom. With her new title, Archibald-Drew shared that she aims to show the world the beauty of her people, improve the British territory and display the true power of women.
As winner of Miss 2021 British Virgin Islands, Archibald-Drew received a host of prizes, including a $25,000 scholarship, a $3,000 cash prize, a brand new 2021 Honda CRV and a slew of pampering spa treatments. While Archibald-Drew was thankful, her win meant more to her than her new luxurizes. Archibald-Drew found the most excitement in her ability to use her voice to be a spokesperson for her community. “It means that I get to be a representative for the Virgin Islands internationally. That is one of the things that I was most excited about. I get to serve within my community as a cultural ambassador, and it’s just an honor,” she said.
She recounted the moment she won as something of utter disbelief. “At first, I didn’t believe it. It is a running joke with my family, they’re like, ‘How come you just didn’t move?’ Because typically you move and there’s all sorts of commotion, and here I am just there with my smile [thinking] that can’t be correct. My walking coach Miss Angie ran down to the stage and I saw my whole family rushed to the front of the stage. I saw my team rush to the front of the stage and I said, it’s time now. For the first time that evening, I felt at peace, even though everything was exciting and everything was fun. It was nice to feel peace,” Archibald-Drew said.
“Close knit, hardworking, inventive and resilient,” words Archibald-Drew used to describe her communal homeland of the British Virgin Islands. “It was really wonderful growing up here because it’s a very small tight knit community, you do anything wrong, by the time you get home your mom knows. I always felt loved, warm and safe,” Arichibald-Drew said.
Archibald-Drew further shared what her childhood was like on the British Virgin Islands in her day to day life. “I spent a lot of time in my church community, I spent a lot of time in after school activities and, like a lot of Virgin Islands kids, I would go to work with my parents in the afternoon and on breaks,” Archibald-Drew said, “ It was really wonderful, I feel like it helped to really round me as a student and as a person.”
Archibald-Drew detailed how her hearty community not only guided and instilled great pride in her, but led to her entry into the world of pageantry. She recounted, “Miss British Virgin Islands was my first pageant and I really got into the pageantry world because of a really good friend of mine, Darrell Flanders. I was having trouble with a math problem one day…Darryl comes over and he’s like, ‘You know, I know you’re not the greatest at math today, but I think that you would make a really great Miss BVI.’ ”
Intrigued by pageantry, Archibald-Drew decided to conduct research of her own. “I started looking into pageantry and trying to understand what it entails. My background is as a debater, and I headed the debate team from my school and there are a lot of parallel aisles there, a lot of public speaking. A lot of making sure that you’re really up to date with world news,” she said.
What assured Archibald-Drew was the images pageantry promoted about women, images of women who were not only beautiful, but also wanted to enact change. “They are very rounded images of what we want women to be. We want them to be intelligent and talented and poised and beautiful and up to date with current affairs and really able to carry themselves very well. And seeing that, I said, you know, this is something that I’d like to participate in, I want to understand the demands of women in the world,” Archibald-Drew described.
New to pageantry, training and preparing was not an easy feat for Archibald-Drew. She described pageantry as a sport.
“It requires you to be strong- physically, mentally and spiritually,” Archibald- Drew recounted, “Physically because you have a lot of training; for me, six days a week, typically at least an hour a day. If that was me running or walking, or more often than not, training in the gym with my trainer, Colin. Intellectual training; I had an interview coach and a question and answer coach. She would go hard on current affairs because being from a British territory, where we fit into the world in terms of geopolitics, is a little bit complicated. But as a representative for your nation- as a beauty queen- you need to understand where your nation fits into the world.”
Archibald-Drew’s strong connection to her culture, her people and her desire for more representation in pageantry that carried her to the finish line. “The biggest thing to me came down to representation in an explicit way. I just wanted the world to know more about my beautiful home and about the beautiful people that are within it,” she said, “We are welcoming and we have a beautiful history and rich culture, and I wanted more people to know about that.”
Copy edited by Jasper Smith