Newly crowned Miss La Reine Rive Queen 2012, Malika Ballantyne wants to see the betterment of her community and also more opportunities for development of future participants in the pageant. These are just two of the achievements she would like to bring about during her reign.
Just what role she can play in seeing these come to fruition, Ballantyne is not yet sure as she was only crowned on last Sunday at the final of the La Reine Rive Queen competition, which took place at Queen's Hall, St Ann's. The 25-year-old singer who is from Embacadere, San Fernando, only knows that she will employ her title to make a difference in the neighbourhood in which she grew up and which she represented in the pageant. This is one component of the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition.
"I'm not living in Embacadere now, but I am always there and I want to make a contribution to the community. The people in the area are very happy that I won the title and when I went home they had a fete. The last time we had a La Reine Rive Queen was in 2000."
"Yes there is crime in Embacadere, but the people there are really very nice and we all live like family. They are very welcoming to people from outside and are very friendly. The crime problem is really because of outsiders coming into the community and causing trouble that reflects on the neighbourhood. Members of the group (Embacadere Travellers of Victoria West) also need encouragement to continue," Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne who works at the National Energy Skills Centre attended St Gabriel's Girls' RC Primary School, San Fernando then Holy Faith Convent, Couva. After finishing there she worked at Sasha Cosmetics for a while, developing skills in make-up artistry, which she intends to develop further. Having recently completed studies in A'Level Law, Ballantyne is preparing to begin the first year of study in pursuit of her law degree.
"I just love law. It excites me. I am hoping to pursue corporate and criminal law and decide which I'll remain with eventually. I also want to be an internationally recognised singer and I'm working on that. I love jazz and calypso is in me. It's part of who I am. When I'm not working or with the group, I am playing my guitar and writing songs. I have not recorded as yet, but I hope to do a jazz album in time," Ballantyne said.
When the Express asked Ballantyne about her parents and how many siblings she has, a little secret she was keeping came out. She is the daughter of respected calypsonian and hit creating songwriter, Gregory "GB" Ballantyne. Her mother's name is Avion Ballantyne and she is the lone girl and youngest among the three siblings.
"I was just waiting for you to put two and two together. Remember, I sang, "Calypso Rising" at the Talent Competition. People did not make the connection then either. Even the Minister (Winston "Gypsy" Peters – Community Development) did not realise, although he was looking at me as if thinking that he knew my face from somewhere. I grew up in calypso, going all over — in the studio and backstage at shows — with my father," Ballantyne.
When Ballantyne sang "Calypso Rising" at the talent competition for La Reine Rive, it was not only an honour for her father to see her perform his song, but it was actually the very first time he had seen her on stage. Ballantyne placed second in that category making her father one very proud papa. She respects and admires her father's talent as a songwriter and she is hoping to be as good as he is as time goes by.
Along with winning the Queen title, Ballantyne also won in the categories of Self Expression and Make-up. She also placed third in the Best Gown and second in the Most Original Gown categories. She was prepared for the pageant by Dexter Jennings who also designed her evening gown. Ballantyne has been modelling for Jennings for the past two years and he advised her that this year was the year she should compete.
So, keep your eyes open for this young lady who aspires to be a successful attorney as well as an accomplished artiste. Ballantyne is living proof that out of a place that is sometimes forgotten and even unfairly maligned can emerge a queen to lead the way to a better way.