National Director and C- Owner of Queen of the Jewel LTD (formerly The Next Miss Belize) insisted on being interviewed at a park near the southern California suburb she calls home. She arrived surprisingly casual (jogging suit and slippers) and her hair was pulled back in a loose bun and without a stitch of makeup. For a working mom and mother of a 3 year old, Ms. Opal had a radiating glow. She greeted me with a disarming smile, gently placed her son in the playground swing while reassuring me that she will openly answer all of my questions.
Opal and her mother migrated to Los Angeles from Belize City in her pre-teen years. Like many other Belizean children, the academic adjustment was no challenge for the young star but her passion for the arts was of huge concern to her family. “I come from a very conservative and goal oriented family.” says Opal. “They did not see art or pageantry as being lucrative or pensive enough to secure the future they had envisioned for me. It was a hard sell. We eventually reached a consensus: I agreed to maintain my GPA and lead the liturgical dance group at our church, while they agreed to tend my injuries and watch fashion shows. Everybody won and I am very grateful.”
As the conversation progressed it became evident that despite her talent, accomplishments and busy schedule, Opal’s highest priorities are family and motherhood; a far cry from the stiletto wearing diva image that has brought her such notoriety. So when I began asking Opal how she balances the demands of her role with Queen of the Jewel and motherhood, her responses were simple and yet embracing.
Magazine: Opal, how do you find time to spearhead the demanding roles as businesswoman and mother?
Opal: First of all, motherhood and leading this company are equally organic for me. I love my child unconditionally and I approach my work without effort. Secondly, I am not alone in this. I have two amazing partners; Mr. Reynaldo Malik and Mr. Orson Elrington. One of the best decisions we made at Queen of the Jewel was taking the time to assemble the right team that would be dedicated to achieving the same goals. Each member of the QJ team is a contributing body, committed to lending their time and talent to the success of our cause.”
Magazine: What do you like best about your role with QJ?
Opal: “I get to live between the two places I love most, Los Angeles and Belize. It doesn’t get better than that. I also get to use art to inspire young women of my country to use their talents to make a name for our country. This has always been a dream of mine
Magazine: Being Partner normally comes with a lot of responsibilities, what are some of yours as the Principal Partner of QJ?
Opal: “My chief role as Partner of QJ is being our National Director, I am involved in every part of the pageant process from recruiting and training the candidates to organizing and choreographing and art directing tithe show.
Magazine: Does the demands of having to spend so much time on the candidates take away from the time you spend with your family?
Opal: “No, I find synergy between the two roles. Each contestant has different needs and a different way of learning and executing. I apply the same principles, ideas and approaches I use at home by allowing my nurturing side to lead them with compassion discipline and understanding. I am strict but fair. Both roles require that of me. “
Magazine: Speaking of the candidates, how do you handle the “over the top” personalities?
Opal: “The image and attitude of the typical pageant girl gets old and boring very quickly. I don’t stand for it. However; I do encourage them to celebrate their individuality. All I ask is that they are committed to being great representatives for Belize dedicated employees of QJ, good role models and viable contributors to our society.” No Pressure.
Magazine: Opal, what can you tells us about your background?
Opal: “I don’t like to talk about this stuff but I am graduate of The Hamilton High School Academy of Music. I choreographed my first masterpiece at the age of 15 and I was awarded an NAACP scholarship to study dance and choreography at the famous Lula Washington Dance Theatre. I thank my mom for the balance of values so I also have a Bachelor’s Degree in Cardio-Pulmonary Science from Loma Linda University.
Magazine: You also have a history competing in pageants as well?
Opal: “I have spent about 14 years working in the performing arts industry including pageantry, modeling, choreography and artistic direction.
I was crowned Miss Belize Independence in 1998, Miss California Caribbean in 2001 and Miss Pan-American International in 2003, which to date is the highest international crown ever captured by a Belizean.
Magazine: You have worked with some great people, can you tell us who?
Opal: “I have worked with Quigeometer Dance Company, Ashanti, Tyrese, Wycleff Jean and Missy Elliott. My work in Belize started as choreographer of the Miss Belize Universe Pageant. I have also choreographed and art directed Miss, Miss Panama California and trained several other well known models, dancers and pageant companies.”
Magazine: Businesswise, where do you feel QJ stands and is going?
Opal: “This is a labor of love for our country but we are more than happy to have stepped up to the plate. Our team is serious about making a difference for Belize. I feel we have the competency as artists and business professionals to accomplish the goal of bringing positive attention to the “Jewel” that has made us the people we are. It is time for Belizean beauty ambassadors to join the ranks of the countries who take their representatives seriously. Queen of the Jewel is ready to do the job.
Queen of the Jewel 2012 will be held at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts on June 30th at 7:30pm. Delegates from all over the country will be vying for the coveted crown and a chance to become Belize’s most recognized beauty ambassador. For more information visit www.queenofthejewel.org.or face book The Next Miss Belize. If you wish to become a sponsor call 0115016289595 or send an email to email@example.com.