Toni-Ann Singh has been crowned Miss World 2019. She succeeds last year’s winner, Vanessa Ponce, and is the first woman of Jamaican descent to win the crown since 1993.
Given Singh’s victory, there are many who are curious about her personal life, and what she did prior to the pageant. Read on to learn more about Singh, the current Miss World titleholder.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Singh Was Born In St. Thomas & Migrated to the U.S. At Age 9
Singh, 23, was born in Morant Bay, St. Thomas in 1996. She migrated to the United States with her parents at age 9, and has since lived in Florida. Singh told The Gleaner that music was a big part of her life as a child, and she was classically trained from the time she arrived in the U.S.
“I’ve been singing since I was very young. I sang in church with the children’s choir, and I’ve been classically trained since I was nine,” she revealed. “I would say it’s a thing in my family, because we all like to sing together. I even have an uncle on my mom’s side who does music a lot – Prince Theo.”
In an recent Instagram post, Singh posted a video of her and her mother eating ice cream. The video included narration which paid tribute to her mother, and the sacrifices she had to make to provide Singh with a better life. “I found my true passion in the arms of my mother,” she said, “Who has made every sacrifice necessary to give me the opportunity for an education and a life she has only been able to dream for herself.”
2. Singh Has a Women’s Studies Degree from Florida State University
Singh attended Florida State University, where she earned a degree in psychology and women’s studies. She put her degree to the test when she was competing in the Miss Jamaica competition in September, and she chose to answer the question: ‘If you are chosen to be Miss Jamaica World, how would you use your crown to contribute positively to your society?’
Singh vowed to preach female empowerment and to be an ambassador for women everywhere. “With or without the Miss Jamaica World Crown, I would continue to advocate for women. I believe women are the lifeblood of our community,” she onstage. “I will continue inspiring them and working with them so they understand just how great their potential is. I will also use my compassion to be an excellent ambassador.”
Singh also said that representation is crucial, and stressed the importance of focusing on similarities rather than differences. “I don’t really wake up and remember that I’m Miss Jamaica World until something happens or someone says something,” she explained. “I hope I’m going to be a representation of that fact that you don’t have to be superhuman. You can be ordinary and still be worth a crown.”
3. Singh Was Encouraged to Enter the Miss Jamaica Pageant by Former Winner Terri-Karelle Reid
The first pageant Singh competed in the Florida Caribbean Association. It was here that she met judge and Miss Jamaica World 2005 Terri-Karelle Reid, who encouraged her to enter the Miss Jamaica World competition. “I had a platform working on, so I entered the Florida Caribbean Association pageant and Terri was one of the judges and she asked me if I would enter Miss Jamaica World and I decided to give it a try,” Singh recalled.
Singh conceded that the experience of becoming Miss Jamaica was overwhelming at times, but her parents helped her get through it. “I left it all in God’s hands and right now this is just a surreal moment for me,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “I am so overwhelmed and excited to hug my mom, but grateful.”
Singh recalled laughing when her father Bradshaw accidentally knocked her crown off her head. “My family being here was very important and their support motivated me to do my utmost best,” she explained. “When Dad came on stage to hug me, he accidentally knocked the crown off, but that’s just Dad.”
4. Singh Has Considered a Career As a Professional Singer
Singh’s impressive singing talents caught the attention of fans and Miss World voters. Her cover of “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston went viral before the final round of the competition, and News Crunch reports that she likes to sing classical opera in her spare time.
These talents, combined with Singh’s aforementioned classical background, has led some fans to question whether a singing career in in her future. Singh told that she has considered recording music professionally, but that her medical career takes precedent.
“I think there was a time when I [wanted to sing], when I really thought about what I wanted to do with my life – and that turned out to be serving people, and medicine, and helping people in my community,” she explained. “I haven’t written it off. If the doors open, why not?”
5. Singh Is the 4th Jamaican Contestant to Be Crowned Miss World
Singh is the fourth contestant of Jamaican descent to win Miss World. The other three are Carol Joan Crawford, Cindy Breakspear and Lisa Hanna; who walked away with the crown in 1962, 1976 and 1993 respectively. Singh told The Gleaner that she plans to take her role as a global ambassador very seriously, despite knowing how difficult it will be.
“The goal of this pageant is if you win, you become an ambassador for the United Nations with engagements all over the world, speaking to people all over the planet,” she remarked. “You have to be working on all these to make sure people don’t meet a tired, angry or hungry you. It’s a lot of mental strength because I’m an ordinary person.”
Singh also said that she hopes to spend plenty of time with her family for the holidays. “I am so big on family. My goals and dreams always tie into leaving something for my family,” she admitted. “In my spare time, I plan for Christmas. Everybody else doesn’t really care about it, but I spend time planning everything.”