Betting on black talent
Posted Sunday, March 17 2013 at 02:00
Being a beautiful woman is not about fitting the scales of height and weight, Pauline Long says, but being of good character and attitude that bring joy to the lives of other people.
Long, the founder and CEO of the Mr and Miss East Africa UK beauty pageant, has developed a huge passion for giving back to children and the youth. The pageant is only one of her many initiatives, and it encourages entrepreneurship among East Africans in the UK in addition to working closely with East African children charities.
“I think a beautiful person is one who is beautiful inside, with a kind giving heart, one who is full of human love. You are guaranteed that this kind of beauty will never fade,” she says.
Born in Mombasa to a family of 10, Ms Long has lived in different parts of Kenya. She started primary school in Mombasa, went on to Homa Bay Primary School then St Theresa Rapogi Girls and St Alberts Ulanda Girls High schools. All these before heading to the UK to study hospitality.
She founded Miss East Africa UK in 2006 and Mr East Africa UK two years later. Still, she needed to expand.
“I co-founded Miss West Africa with a Ghanian entrepreneur who approached me at the peak of Mr and Miss East Africa UK,” she says, adding that she realised that there were West Africans asking to join Mr and Miss East Africa UK but she turned them down as it did not cover their region.
But her beauty pageants are not just about good looks.
Charity work including work with children abandoned and orphaned through HIV/AIDS and genocide is at the core.
“I believe in human love as opposed to love for objects. I established the beauty pageants because I wanted to support children,” Ms Long tells Buzz. With everything she does or puts her name on, it has to be giving back to the community.
Mr and Miss East Africa UK pageants also encourage young East Africans to become entrepreneurs and leaders in their chosen fields.
Another of her startups, the Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts (BEFFTA) Awards, celebrates the achievements of people in entertainment, film, fashion, television and arts.
It began in the UK. BEFFTA Awards USA is two years old. The Caribbean version was launched in February this year while the Australian and Canadian ones will be introduced in the coming months.
Some of the high profile personalities honoured at BEFFTA Awards include veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, American filmmaker Tyler Perry and Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde.
And Ms Long has plans to bring the event to Africa.
“BEFFTA Africa is coming to Nairobi with a press launch in May and the main award in November,” she says.
Ms Long cites that Nairobi will be the home of BEFFTA Africa.
“We will bring the entire world of entertainment, film, fashion, television and arts from the rest of Africa, UK, Canada, US, Europe, Caribbean to the beautiful Kenya and its beautiful creative people,” she says.
For Ms Long, the goal here is to inspire people to be high achievers, besides honouring and celebrating them.