Jennifer Hosten is most well known for being the first ever Miss World from the Caribbean, and being the first black woman to win Miss World in what was one of the most controversial Miss World contests. This is where we will start. It is said that Hosten never had the intention of entering the pageant but it was whilst she was working for BWIA as an air hostess, that she was convinced by Miss Guyana to enter, who happened to be a passenger on one of Hosten’s flights. In 1970, aged 22, Hosten took part in the Miss World final held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This Miss World was filled with uproar from the offset mainly due to the protests from the women’s liberation groups who deemed that the pageants were demeaning and objectified woman. This Miss World was also different, because the organisers had let South Africa (who were still during a time of apartheid), enter two contestants, one Caucasian and one of African descent. Now let’s add to this boiling pot the result of the pageant. The favourite, Miss UK, didn’t place. Jenifer Hosten from Grenada was crowned as Miss World and the black contestant from South Africa was named as the first runner up! The British public was faced with two black contestants being named Miss World and first runner up, a first in the history of the contest and a feat that was not replicated until over 20 years later at the 1993 Miss World pageant. Jennifer Hosten celebrated her victory, meanwhile thousands were in uproar. Organisers were accused of rigging the votes, not helped by the fact that the then Premier of Grenada, Eric Gairy had been added to the judging panel for the first time. To cut to the chase, the British public just was not ready to accept a non-white Miss world. This would go down as the greatest controversy in a Miss World Pageant. It briefly put Grenada on the map, but more importantly it launched Hosten’s career.
So much more than just a beautiful face, Hosten achieved a lot beyond her Miss World title. A well-educated young lady, Hosten had completed her education in London prior to the pageant. She studied broadcasting with the BBC and worked for its Caribbean service. Following this, she became a flight attendant, where as we mentioned before her calling to enter the pageant came. Following her year’s reign, Hosten worked for customer relations for Air Canada. She married David Craig, one of the airline executives and together they had two children. They lived in Bermuda briefly before settling in Canada in 1973. Hosten served as the High Commissioner for Grenada to Canada from 1978-1981. She was committed to making her home country a familiar and popular tourist destination for Canadians. She wanted to ensure Canadians were aware of her beautiful island, the ‘Spice Isle’ of the Caribbean. In 1990, Hosten gained her Master’s degree in Political Science from the Carleton University in Ottowa. That same year she was also the winner of the Canadian Bureau for International Education award. Holding Canadian and Grenadian dual citizenship, Hosten worked as a Canadian diplomat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, before returning to Canada.
It is said the Jennifer Hosten likes to spend her rime counselling, volunteering and also with her family. In 2007 she wrote her book, ‘Beyond Miss World’, which is noted for detailing her journey, a journey of dignity, moral strength and educational success. It serves as a reminder that nothing must ever deter you from your dreams and aspirations. A definite addition to our reading list! Hosten went on to gain her Master’s in Counselling Psychology in 2011. At one stage she also played an active part in managing her personal resort, Jenny’s Place in Grenada. Unfortunately, it seems the resort is now closed for business, but it had some glowing reviews, describing it as a secluded oasis, a boutique hotel and cosy retreat. Unfortunate that we never got the chance to visit! An amazing, strong and determined woman, who has worked hard to increase the profile of her home country, and has paved the way for many after her. Jenifer Hosten, a mother, grand-mother, former Miss World, Diplomat, Counsellor, (the list goes on), Caribbean1st absolutely salutes you!