In our third instalment of features on our new amazing Atlantic Beauty Pageant queens, we dig deep with Sarah Kana-ah the new Ms Atlantic 2021/22.
What does your system stand for and why is this important to you?
The Miss Atlantic United Kingdom’s ethos is to Empower, Inspire and Encourage. This is important to me as I feel a good role model should embody all of these qualities. Empowering and Inspiring others around them as well as encouraging each other’s successes.
My role in today’s society is to empower female survivors of abuse through basic self-defence techniques as well as educating around healthy boundaries and red flags.
The chosen charity of Miss Atlantic United Kingdom is MIND. Mental health is something I am very passion about, not only am I an ambassador for MIND, but I have my own struggles with anxiety and have my own support group helping others with their mental health difficulties.
Can you tell me a bit about your chosen platform?
I have two platforms. A mental health platform, Somerset Anxiety Support, and a female empowerment platform - EMPOWER - Protecting Women’s Safety.
My mental health platform aims to educate, support, and empower anyone going through a mental health problem. As part of the group I organise monthly guest speakers, social events to reduce isolation and depression and workshops to help manage mental health struggles.
My female empowerment platform is a platform that aims to empower survivors of abuse through basic self-defence as well as educating around healthy boundaries and red flags in relationships.
Due to my own difficulties with anxiety, I chose my chosen platform to provide a safe space for anyone struggling mentally to come together and have that support. I know how isolating and lonely it can get if you have no one to talk, so I set the group up to ensue nobody is struggling on their own.
I ceated my empowerment platform as I unfortunately I went through a really bad relationship when I was just 14 years old. The relationship was full of physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse. I struggled for many years with my confidence, self esteem and my inner strength. During this process I found myself going back to the same pattern of relationships. After educating myself around health boundaries and red flags in relationship and discovering self-defence I slowly built back my inner strength, my confidence and my identity. So this led me onto wanting to help other survivors of abuse really build back that inner strength and self worth to help prevent them from repeating the same cycle of abuse and to live a safer, happier life.
What do Beauty Pageants mean to you and how would you define them?
Beauty pageants are full of empowering, inspiring and supportive women. Each all having their own passion and purpose in life. I’ve met some of the most inspiring women in pageantry over the years who I’m still friends with now.
The work that pageant girls do is just phenomenal and I feel sometimes people don’t understand the amount of work us pageant girls actually do. From the community work, charity work and the strong messages we send out and the awareness we bring through the causes and platforms we support is just incredible.
Pageants have really taught me to accept who I am, to love myself and most importantly to not compare myself to others. I have learnt that true beauty doesn’t mean being the most popular, intelligent, flawless person. True beauty is about being empowering, inspiring and encouraging and loving who you truly are.
When did you enter your first beauty pageant and why?
I first entered in 2016. My dad was my inspiration to start pageants. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and became very unwell. Due to the location of his cancer, he had to have all his teeth removed, so for him every day was a constant reminder of his illness. I hated seeing my dad so upset and struggling, so I decided to raise money for him to put towards a set of implants to help take away that constant reminder. Whilst I was fundraising I noticed on Facebook Miss Galaxy 2016, Bella Normand. I thought wow, she looks absolutely beautiful and so confident. I then noticed another pageant girl, Romy Simpkins, who continuously did so much charity work, which was so inspiring to see. I noticed how beautiful, inspiring and confident they both were which I admired so much. I struggled a lot with my own confidence and self-esteem due to going through several years of mental, physical and sexual abuse. My confidence was something I really wanted to work on and I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin again. I also wanted to make my dad proud too. Anyway I plucked up the courage to enter Galaxy in 2016 and I loved being on stage and meeting so many new people.
It seemed like the perfect system to start my pageant journey with my dad really poorly with cancer and galaxy’s chosen charity being the cancer Christie charity.
My experiences have now shaped me as a strong person giving me the drive to build my career and giving me the focus to help and inspire others as much as I can.
What is something important you would tell a newcomer to Beauty Pageants?
Be authentic. Be the same person on stage as you are off stage. Love the person you truly are and believe in yourself. Don’t try and be what you think the judges are looking for. Be you and let the real you shine through.
Take care of yourself both mentally and physically, as the finals can be a long day. Get as much sleep as you can the night before, keep hydrated and eat something throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Remember to have fun and really enjoy the experience.
My advice to anyone entering a pageant would be to enjoy the whole experience. Don’t just focus on winning. Everyone would like to win, but only one person unfortunately can.
So make as many friends as you can, have fun, create memories, take lots of photos, do charity work and do lots of fun appearances. If you win then that’s a bonus. If you don’t win, then at least you’ve come away from the experience with lifelong friends, memories and lots of achievements which you can take into your next pageant. Focus on enjoying every moment and the most important thing is to have fun. I’ve made some of my best friends within pageantry and I’ve loved every moment of it.
What is the most important thing you have done or will be doing with your current title?
I have so much planned with my year as your Ms Atlantic, I will be doing a 15,000 ft sky dive in June all in aid of MIND the mental health charity. Next year, I will be going out to Kenya to work alongside the Boo charity with families living in the slums. But most importantly I will be expanding my current platforms on a bigger level to make a difference to more survivors and mental health sufferers to give them that safe place, support and education.
We will also be turning our online self-defence workshops into face-to-face workshops to help empower more female survivors to help them build back that inner strength and prevent them from repeating the same cycle of abuse.
Do you think it is important for a queen to use her title to support her system and take part in community and charity work?
I think it’s important for a queen to really believe in herself and really show that passion, whether that’s through community work, charity work or just a passion for your system. Pageantry gives you a real sense of purpose to get out there and support the charities that you’re passionate about as well as getting involved in making a difference within your community. It gives you that voice to really speak up for what you stand for as well as giving you that platform to be heard. By being a representative and titleholder for a system you should definitely be wearing your sash and promoting that system you’re a part of.
As a queen you are a role model to others so if you’re helping making a positive impact within your community and doing charity work, this surely will help inspire and empower others to make a difference too. We all lead busy lives, so not everyone is expected to do lots and lots of community work or appearances but if you have some involvement it definitely helps to show your passion, dedication and determination going forward. I personally work hard to give back to my community and be a voice for many causes especially Domestic violence and mental health. Winning the Charity and Publicity side awards for Atlantic really meant so much to me as getting involved with my community and supporting the charities that are close to my heart is very important to me. Knowing that I get to participate in making a difference in the lives of so many people really keeps me going. I feel gratitude from every aspect of my life. This is what I do and it’s something I pursue with genuine dedication and earnest passion.
What qualities do you think a competitor needs to win a crown?
The qualities I feel it takes in order to win the crown is someone who is empowering, inspiring and encouraging. Someone who really believes in themselves and has a strong, clear passion for what they want to achieve and do. That passion and purpose is so important. Someone who is hardworking and will work the crown to its fullest and really promote their pageant system & title. Someone who has a positive attitude and is ambitious and confident.
It’s someone who is authentic, kind, caring, and confident, has self-love and encourages others to become the best version of themselves. I also think it’s so important for a role model to be dedicated to their title and pageant system. A good role model is a leader, who teaches, encourages and informs others.
Do you think a queen is a role model and has responsibilities connected with that?
Absolutely. A beauty queen is a role model as not only are you representing your system but you’ve been crowned with a national title holder. You are empowering and inspiring those around you as well as other pageant ladies competing within pageantry.
How would you explain Beauty Pageants to someone who has never experienced one?
I believe some people have a big misconception about pageantry with most people looking at them as just a pretty face that won a competition. In reality, titleholders are inspiring, hardworking, passionate women working so hard to make a difference. For me, pageants are about being a role model for others and making a positive impact in the community.
The friendships and support you get within pageantry is amazing. Pageants really help with confidence, mental health and gives you a real sense of purpose to get out there and make a difference. It’s helped me so much with my growth, my confidence and empowering others through both my platforms.
What's been your greatest learning experience from pageantry?
I’ve learnt to keep believing in yourself and to never give up. If you don’t succeed at the first, second, third or fourth time, keep going and don’t give. It’s your commitment, strength and courage which will bring success your way.
I’ve competed 5 times and it was on my 5th pageant that my dream came true and I was crowned as Ms Atlantic. Don’t let any setbacks stop you from getting back up and trying again.
I’ve learnt through pageantry to really love the person I truly am, and embrace my imperfections.
What was running through your head when your name was announced as the winner?
I was so shocked. I cried, screamed and smiled. When my name was called I fell on the floor in tears. I was so happy. When I had to do the live stream with Jessica I couldn’t speak as I was shaking so much. I am so honoured to share my story and empower more people with my national title.
Thank you so much to all the judges and my director Romy for believing in me and trusting me to be a representative for Atlantic.
Who is your Beauty Pageant inspiration?
My pageant inspiration has got to be our director Romy Simpkins. Romy inspired me back in 2016 to start pageantry after seeing all of her charity work and community involvement. Watching her journey and growth over the years has made her even more of an inspiration to me today. From creating Atlantic and helping empower other women, to being a MIND ambassador to recently speaking out about her experience with coercive control. Her continuous passion for speaking out about important topics that have personally affected me is very inspiring. Also Jen Atkin, the current Miss Great Britain. She is truly inspiring, firstly after losing an incredible 8 stone in weight, to recently opening up about her sexuality.
Can you tell us more about your sister queens?
My beautiful sister queens are Sheri, Natasha, Paige and Sasha. We’ve already made plans to attend upcoming pageant events together and as a team we will support each other’s upcoming appearances, campaigns and journeys.
Within pageantry I have so many friends which I’ve made along the way, and we all support each other as much as we can. The sisterhood within pageantry is amazing.
I’ve already expanded my empowerment platform and have two pageant ladies on broad already. One being in Suffolk and the other being in the Highlands. If anyone else has a passion for helping those going through domestic violence, please get in touch, as I’m looking to expand further and bring more people onboard so we can really make a difference to those who have experienced abuse.
Sarah is an awesome Queen and it’s clear why she took the crown. We can’t wait to see what her year as Ms Atlantic brings.
To find Sarah on socials check these out:
EMPOWER - Protecting Women’s Safety - www.facebook.com/groups/623557581610709
Somerset Anxiety Support - www.facebook.com/groups/354862201951575/