Mickalia Forrester-Ewen, a young, fledging actress, who was born in Brooklyn to a Grenadian mother, was crowned Miss Grenada USA 2023 Saturday night during the 28th anniversary of the beauty pageant organized by the Brooklyn-based Grenadian-American Ex-Teachers’ Association, Inc.
Forrester-Ewen, 25, snatched the crown, from four other contestants, before an ebullient, standing-room-only, audience in the Founder’s Auditorium at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY).
She was crowned by last year’s inaugural Over 50 Queen, St. Lucian Sharon Eutrice Willie. That pageant was also organized by the Grenadian-American Ex-Teachers’ Association.
On her way to attaining the coveted title, Forrester-Ewen, Contestant #5, also won Best Introduction, Best Swimwear and Best Creative.
Contestant #3, Tyler Jade Phillip, 19, took the first runner-up spot; and Contestant #1, Britney Charles, 23, was second runner-up.
Phillip was also adjudged Best Performing Talent; Contestant #4, Rhea Catherine Date, 20, won the Best Evening Wear; and Contestant #2, Atilyah McEwen, 23, was voted Miss Congeniality.
The contestants were judged on Introduction, Swimwear, National Dress, Question and Answer, Talent and Evening Wear.
“It is an honor to wear the Miss Grenada USA Crown and to be delegated with the responsibility of representing the beautiful ‘Isle of Spice’, Grenada,” Forrester-Ewen – a Brooklyn native, whose mother, Donna Joanne Forrester, hails from Birch Grove, St. Andrew, Grenada – told Caribbean Life in a post-show interview.
“Although I seemed calm and happy during the win, all of the attention was a little scary,” she added. “However, it was my family and their support that allowed my anxieties to disappear, and allowed me to have some fun and be proud of myself.
“Further on, I was blessed to meet the other contestants, who inspired me by the hard work and dedication they put in during the pageant,” Forrester-Ewen continued.
In the Introduction segment, she said she “truly wanted to display” her personality and “specifically who I am as a Brooklyn-born young woman of Grenadian descent.
“I love making people happy and laugh, and I thought I did so with my introduction,” Forrester-Ewen said. “I also wanted to discuss my passion and my personal mission in life.”
She said whether or not she had received the crown, her goal is to represent Grenada in the entertainment industry through performance and production.
Forrester-Ewen is a graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts, where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts, with a minor in production.
“From my learnings at school, I realized how imperative media was in formulating a society, creating empathy and teaching education on diverse cultures,” she said. “I always longed to see Grenadians in television, movies and all types of media, because I wanted that level of importance and wanted the world to see how beautiful my mother’s mainland was. I knew I wanted to be a force in creating a light for Grenada in the media.”
Forrester-Ewen said one of her most recent projects includes The Toast, of which she received funding to create this “personal passion project.”
The Toast is a digital interview series that highlights Afro-Caribbean food creatives, based in New York City, which present stories about their positions in the food industry, and how their Caribbean identity has affected their process in building and transforming their food careers.
“I hope my passion project will elevate the minds of my audience by allowing them to have access and exposure to new palates and new mindsets about Caribbean food, culture and history,” Forrester-Ewen said. “I am currently in post-production, and I can’t wait to share the series.”
Some of her recent works also include performing in New Amsterdam (CBS), The Best Man: Final Chapter series (Peacock) and on the short film Cousins, which was featured in the Caribbean Beat magazine and was played on Jet Blue Airline flights.
Forrester-Ewen said she recorded three pilots within the past two years, one of which is being considered by Warner Bros.
“I pray for the show’s success because this will give me the opportunity to push my Grenadian culture in the writer’s room and, of course, with my overall presence,” she said. “Although I have just started my acting career, I have the tenacity, skill and passion for what I do. So, I know I will make it far and will bring Grenada with me.
“While I work on achieving my dreams, I will continue to support Grenada, and I will continue to push my country in any room I’m in and will formulate ties with film festivals, performers and production companies to push my ‘Spice’ ideas to the forefront,” Forrester-Ewen added. “I hope my future work shows Grenadians, young and old, that we always have a chance, and that we are powerful and deserve to be seen and we deserve to dream big.”
Believing that red is the most prominent color on the Grenada flag, Forrester-Ewen said she was “elated” when she and the other four contestants were able to “rock that red bathing suit on stage” during the Swimwear segment.
“I wanted my presence to represent my fierce beauty, my unwavering confidence, my undeniable power and energy that I try to use every day in life because this encourages me to never give up,” she said. “I believe that I embodied the beauty and resilience that define both Grenada and the color red.”
For Creative, Forrester-Ewen said that as soon as she discovered that there was a creative national dress segment, she grabbed pencil and paper, and started designing.
“I knew from the start I wanted a ‘Shortknee-inspired’ dress,” she said, disclosing that she drew the ruffles, which were inspired by the multi-color pantaloons the masqueraders would wear.
Forrester-Ewen said she added bells on her feet to represent the willows, adorned her shirt with bells and borrowed the Shortknee mask from a family friend “to put the whole look together.”
The dress was designed by Kingsley Chukwuocha.
“I really wanted to portray the ‘Shortknee’ costume perfectly to make sure I made my Grenadians proud,” Forrester-Ewen said. “Although it was difficult to find a lot of history about the ‘Shortknee’, I was proud to represent a costume that reflects back to Grenadian culture and our community’s fight for liberation.
“Sometimes, you feel like your hard work will never be recognized, but I am happy my work with my creative dress was recognized in that moment,” she added.
On Talent, Forrester-Ewen said the first thing she thought about singing for the Miss Grenada Pageant was the song “People Talk”, a soulful reggae tune that, she said, she loves to sing “because it reminds me to ignore the negativity life offers, and to focus on the positivity instead.
“The song also encourages me to take risks and be myself, no matter what anyone thinks,” she said. “I love singing, but it terrifies me. But I am happy I took that risk because I feel like it spreads such an imperative message pertaining to the negativity we may receive during the pageant and the negativity we may receive in everyday life.”
Forrester-Ewen said her Evening Gown “toned down the spice I was giving all night and allowed the audience to see my essence of grace and femininity, which also defines my womanhood.
“I wanted my dress to be decorated with flowers because they remind me of growth, kindness and warmth – all of the things that are vital to connect our Grenadian community,” she said.
“I loved having the opportunity to spread my dreams to the audience,” she added. “It gave me a stronger platform, and allowed my community and support to grow even larger. I also believe it gave people hope knowing that there are people still out there, especially young people, especially people who weren’t born in Grenada, fighting for Grenadians’ light and mainstream representation.”
The young, fledging actress said her experience with the pageant “can open doors” for her, hoping that her work in the entertainment industry will open doors for Grenada, as well.
She expressed special thanks to her Birch Grove Family; the Forresters; David Williams Funeral Service and the Hosten Funeral Service, her sponsors; and the Grenadian-American Ex-Teachers’ Association.
“To Cicely Mason [president] and the entire team, I appreciate the opportunity and hope that the community discovers more effective ways to support and honor its participants and winners,” Forrester-Ewen said.
“As a young woman, I adore the unwavering support of my Grenadian community and will continue to contribute to its advancement,” she added.
Inspired by Mason, the Miss Grenada USA Pageant started in 1992.
“Today marks the 28th Anniversary of the Miss Grenada USA Pageant,” said Mason in the souvenir journal. “It is also the first pageant since our world was turned upside-down by the pandemic. So, it is only that our theme for the Miss Grenada USA Pageant 2023 is ‘Preserving Our Culture.’”