Yia-Loren Gomez is a conceptual artist, designer and businesswoman focused on various forms of artwork and designs with a concentration on lighting fixtures. While at the Caribbean School of Dance, she attained her RAD certification from the Royal Academy of Dance UK, specialising in a range of dance genres including ballet and contemporary.
Yia-Loren has represented Trinidad and Tobago with the Metamorphosis Dance Company on prestigious occasions both international and locally. Her love of dance and art intertwine, giving creative identity to her sobriquet as a multidimensional artist – the genetic strains which can be seen in all of her work. She completed her BA in Visual Arts in 2013 at the University of The West Indies, St Augustine and then went on to teach at the Maria Regina Grade School. It is there that she discovered her deep love for children and helping them to harness their “inner light’’ through artistic and creative expressions. This newfound love for youth advocacy and education galvanized her to read for a Master’s Degree at Loughborough School of Arts UK, where she delved further into the research and development of lighting and design. In 2017, she graduated and returned to Trinidad where she later officially established her own business – YIA Designs Company Limited. Today, Yia-Loren stands proudly as the Miss Supranational Trinidad and Tobago who will represent this country at the 11th Miss Supranational Pageant in Poland in December. Miss Supranational Trinidad and Tobago represents the modern, success-driven entrepreneurial woman with natural beauty, dynamic charisma, warm personality and a desire to use her attributes for social influence on local and international platforms. In a WE Mag interview, Yia-Loren opened up about her journey in the pageant that helped us to understand why she is so deserving of the title.
Tell us about your decision to get into the world of beauty pageants?
The Miss Supranational Trinidad and Tobago focuses on the woman who possesses a #supraquality. This means that for us as young women, we are encouraged to think more than physical beauty, glamorous campaigns or any other stereotype that is often associated with the beauty and fashion industry. For the Supra-brand, young men (Mister Supranational) and women (Miss Supranational) are encouraged to develop a balance between the “head and heart’’. In other words, for the hopeful delegate, he/she must be focused on one’s career and driven by becoming their own #supraboss. Of course, I was attracted to this since as a designer and performer the opportunities for personal advancement in the world of business are not as clearly cut out in relation to other more prestigious professions. When I was six years old, I was a Little Miss T&T (Queen of Beauty and Intelligence); my aunt Ann-Marie used to design and produce Easter bonnets which I would parade. Finally, I won the Easter Bonnet Princess at the age of 12. It is this same Aunt who encouraged me to attend the National Screening at the Queen’s Hall on June 22 of this year. Many of my friends and close relatives were of the opinion that I should try out for Miss Universe or Miss World but my mind was really focused on completing my education and gaining some life experience. I left that screening feeling extremely relieved and proud that I was able to sit comfortably before a very distinguished panel of experts and walk out securing a place in the finals. I guess I did pretty well after all!
Did you have to face any challenges in the preparation for the local leg of the competition? How did you deal with it?
Most beauty pageants have a height and body type and I am not exactly the ideal profile for what you usually see on stage. I am a bit shorter and armed with a dancer’s physique. I believe that God made me in this definite height and if I was but a half an inch taller or shorter, I just simply won’t be the same Yia. But what is life without taking a risk and going against the odds? I used my passion for my work and arts to warm the judges, slapped on some killer heels and walked with all the pump and personality to wow the audience. I managed to convince the judges that I understood and respected the discipline and determination involved in achieving a set, healthier and more toned outlook. So, I challenged myself to return to the gym with the commitment of my personal trainer Roger Malco, who helped me in attaining the significant body toning coupled with MSTT’s Fitness Sponsor UberlifeTT. I’ve always believed that beauty is subjective and is ever changing in a fast developing industry. Whilst it did get to me (that I was one of the shorter girls in the pageant hoping to compete against 80 plus delegates from across the world who might be taller, slimmer and more experienced), I knew that now was an opportune time to witness to my belief. My part in this competition is not just for Yia, but also on behalf of the many other young women who may be insecure and finding it difficult to come to terms with their own quirks.
Who was your role model as a child and what example do you want to be for young, female professionals who may be interested in pageantry?
My father has always been, to me at least, a good definition of someone that people should emulate. Even after his passing, his life lessons and guidance live on which I think is the mark of a true role model; being able to have a positive influence on someone’s life even after leaving this earthly life.
For me, this is what I would like to imagine as a good example. My father taught us the value of seeing the good in others, discerning the truth in situations of deceit and exercising wisdom in making decisions that would also affect the lives of others. I know for sure that my formation is a living example of what dad would have wanted for his children and this is what I encourage other young men and women to consider: that life is a blank canvas and we are all painters by virtue of our God-given gifts and skills, life experiences and passions. Pageantry is just a conduit in this diverse project called life and if we found the courage to see beyond the conduit, then maybe all of the things we have stored up and called potentiality might become actuality.
What is your ultimate goal or biggest dream for your future?
My vision is to have a space for creative narratives, specifically in my community of Arima. At the core of my brand YIA Designs, the vision is to not only become a leading industry Design Studio where some of this country’s most unique artisan work comes out but also as a humanitarian wellspring offering children, youth and young adults with tools and life skills through the medium of visual and performing arts as a means to tapping into their truest potential. I hope this can raise awareness on the importance of advancing the arts in Trinidad and Tobago and making it readily available to all children despite their backgrounds and dispositions. I’d also like to become a successful businesswoman and Ambassador of GoodWill for those who are living with silent and invisible diseases, particularly colon cancer.
Why do you do what you do?
If I was not doing what I did, then who is Yia-Loren? I am passionate about the arts and giving back to the various artforms because this is what I know. When I started dancing at age six, I felt it within me that I needed to move and I had to fulfil this desire. Dance has and will always be my breathing space. I love the absolute freedom of my body and mind when I dance. From the moment I enter the realm of dance I can feel every nerve, every fibre, all the energies of my being reaching into something surreal, something sacred… something special. I forever go back to dance when it comes to my art and design, because it is so intrinsic to me and this is my inspiration. It is such a dynamic duo that go hand in hand naturally, and I want to share this with the world. There are many children who do not have parents supporting them in their choices of career, especially in the arts and so for that, I am truly indebted to both my father and mother because they trusted that once I loved what I did, they would be happy. The word multidimensional grows with me because I am always constantly trying to surround myself with creative ideas and people alike, which broadens my vision and not limit me to one set thing. These multi-layers collectively channel who I am today and who I want to become.