Lisa Hanna is perhaps best known now for her work as a public servant; a vocal politician who serves as Member of Parliament and former government minister.
However, the 44-year-old was a part of the Jamaican consciousness long before her political career. Hanna began a television career at 13, working on two programmes on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation which preceded her arrival on the international stage.
Hanna, speaking with Yendi Phillipps on her YouTube show Odyssey, Untold Journeys with Yendi, said she did not want to do pageantry.
“I’m not flappable, and I don’t have principles of convenience so it wasn’t as if it was going to change who I was.”– Lisa Hanna
Hanna shared that she was walking in a plaza one day when Laurel Williams, Miss Jamaica 1967, told her that she should enter Miss Jamaica. Hanna said, “I looked at her like why?”
Noting that her mother made clothes and would often use her as a model, she was exposed to the world of fashion but “the beauty contest was not me at all.”
“At that time in Jamaica, you used to have fashion shows, people used to pay to go to fashion shows. And you had the big designers who used to parade; people knew models in Jamaica, so you had the Debbie Whittinghams, you had the Angela Neils, and, especially at the time, models who went away and did well, Jamaicans were very, very interested in them.”
The MP for South East St Ann since 2007 said she was initially uncomfortable on the pageant scene. “I was very uncomfortable, because I wasn’t the person in high school who followed these things. There were always young women who did. And young women who did the fashion shows…I was the prefect, head girl, student council, house captain, games captain.”
She said no one really thought she would have entered, until she did. She would go on to win the Miss Jamaica World title in September 1993, quickly followed by her claiming the global title two months later, at age 18.
Regarding her win, Hanna said, “The judges themselves, having a situational awareness about what the world was, was also looking for a difference in who could also carry a message.”
Despite being so young when she won, she said the transition to the visible role was an easy one.
“From you were 13, I pretty much grew up in Jamaica in front of TV, so being on the world stage wasn’t difficult. I’ve always had a very steady compass, internal compass. I’m not flappable, and I don’t have principles of convenience so it wasn’t as if it was going to change who I was.”
She continued, “So it was easy to ease into it and I think the Miss World Organization recognised that you could drop me anywhere in the world and I would have prevailed.”
More of Hanna’s interview, including her thoughts on motherhood, the future of Jamaica and her love for its culture, can be seen below: