In an exclusive interview and photoshoot, beauty queen and politician Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers invites HELLO! to her beautiful native Anguilla and tells how she credits the strong female role models in her life for instilling in her the ambition and drive to achieve her goals.
"I come from a long line of strong-minded, hard-working and progressive women," says multi-talented Dee-Ann, the youngest member of the Caribbean island’s House of Assembly.
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She is a qualified barrister, was the first black contestant to win Miss Universe Great Britain, and competed in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games – and says her mother and grandmother "worked their way out of poverty" and that her mum is her biggest fan.
Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers has many inspiring role models in her family
"As I was growing up she would tell me there would always be room at the top table if I was the best at what I wanted to do." Dee-Ann, who still lives in the modest house where she grew up, also tells how she has used her platform to inspire others.
"I used my role to raise awareness of serious issues," says the star, who is currently single.
"Some people think beauty pageants are sexist, but where I grew up there’s a different attitude. Women dress liberally at carnival events; it’s part of our culture. Many girls who’ve taken part in beauty contests have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs.
"You don’t need to deny your femininity or rely on masculine ways to make it in this world. You can be a girlie girl or a tomboy to be strong; you don’t have to be one thing to succeed."
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Dee-Ann also tells of her elation when she entered politics; she has a place in the House of Assembly and is also the island’s Minister for Education and Social Development.
Dee-Ann spoke exclusively to HELLO!
“I screamed at the top of my voice when we won,” Dee-Ann recalls. “In fact I actually lost my voice and for my first three weeks in government I was on voice rest.
The exhilaration I experienced was similar to how I felt when I won Miss Universe Great Britain.”
Dee-Ann, who studied law at Birmingham University, also recalled winning the beauty pageant two years ago, when she became the first black contestant to be awarded the title since it began in 1952.
“I was overjoyed that by being the first black contestant to win, I’d given other women hope that they could achieve their dreams, too.”
To read the full story, pick up the latest issue of HELLO!, out Monday 28 September
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