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Miss Grand Gibraltar Jaylynn Cruz pays homage to her mother Part 1

Photos by Charlene Figueras

Miss Gibraltar 2022 1st Princess, Jaylynn Cruz, is currently in Vietnam competing in the Miss Grand International beauty pageant but before she left, she and her mother Lynette sat for a photo shoot, themed on ‘a Homage to my Mother’ and an interview with Charlene Figueras.

What have you been up to?

Jaylynn Cruz: I’ve taken some time to work on myself mentally and physically and have spent time with my loved ones… pushing forward with my course in Positive Behaviour Support.

I’ve been learning about my international pageant, Miss Grand International [MGI], and trying to stay focused in my preparation for it.

I’ve spent some time learning about the history of Gibraltar.

I want to represent Gibraltar as best as I can.

Jaylynn, tell us more about the ‘Homage to my Mother’ shoot?

JC: My mum's photoshoot images have always been iconic to me.

I vividly remember being in awe of my Mum’s success in the 1993 Miss Gibraltar pageant as soon as I was old enough to learn of this and what it meant.

I have always loved performing, music, art, and fashion.

The older I became, the more my Mum and I bonded over creativity and the fashion world.

I remember her flicking through this huge album that contained all the shoot outtakes - effortlessly stunning and confident.

I was young and had no clue about what it entailed to get these photos!

It’s even more iconic to me now that these images are raw, unfiltered, and taken by an analog camera, something unheard of nowadays.

It was something that I have always wanted to recreate.

Growing up in a small community like Gibraltar, I always got the ‘que te parece a tu madre’ comments.

In a shoot by Figgy Photography that I featured in 2017, I took a random picture with a dog.

My Mum instantly noticed the similarities to the one in her shoot.

The rest was history, we knew that we had to recreate her shoot.

It only took a global pandemic for us to finally recreate it… the longer the wait the sweeter the kiss!

I am so glad that we have.

It is important for me to highlight that Yvette Aitken Perera was kind enough to lend me the original dress that my mum wore in the shoot.

An original design and creation by Eduardo Viotto himself.

The dress, years on, is still just as beautiful.

It’s clear that those fortunate enough to still have an Eduardo Viotto piece treat them with so much care and respect. Truly an honor for me to wear.

My Mum has always spoken extremely highly, respectfully, and gratefully about those involved in her shoot: the Klifton Barnes Agency (led by Alex Britto and the late Eduardo Viotto), accompanied by Derek McMahon and Jonny Harper (as her photographers).

We would like to hear from your mum now. Lynette, firstly tell us about your original shoot and the team behind it.

Lynette Cruz: When I was younger, I was a committee member of the Plater Youth Club, Gibraltar.

We used to organise in-house events including pageants for teenagers.

Through this I met the team: Derek McMahon, Johnny Harper, Alex Britto and the late Eduardo Viotto.

My original shoot was done in October 1992.

I was encouraged by the team, particularly Derek, to do this shoot and I thought, why not? I just might get a nice set of photos for my Mum at the end of it!

I had the full photoshoot experience of having a full set of makeup on and who better than the distinguished Eduardo Viotto to do this.

An amazing stylist, Alex Britto, where I was fortunate enough to wear one of Eduardo’s design pieces.

Once the images were developed, yes developed, Derek rang me and asked me to rush over to have a look at them.

I couldn’t believe the images we had taken. I couldn’t believe that it was me! I even cried.

The team liked the images so much that they shared it with another creative, and they used my image on a poster to advertise a fashion event.

After this shoot, unconsciously, it opened me up to a whole new world that I did not know much about. The world of fashion, design, makeup, and creativity.

I was later offered to do promotions, photoshoots, fashion events, and modelling.

This gave me the confidence to see myself in a different light and pursue something that had never crossed my mind.

After this, I entered a local pageant called Top Model, and then I entered Miss Gibraltar 1993, the biggest local pageant.

I was fortunate enough to place (as Miss Personality and 2nd Princess).

Lynette, tell us about Jaylynn’s shoot day and how you felt when you saw her recreating your images?

LC: During the shoot I was stunned at how much she looked like me.

She is my daughter, and I have always thought that she looks like me, but seeing her reenact my poses in similar outfits is the ultimate outcome of my original photoshoot.

It really took me back. I was reminiscent of how much I enjoyed my own photoshoot and was able to enjoy it twofold by watching my daughter also enjoy it!

I was extremely happy and confident back then, and I was able to relive it all 30 years later.

It has only made my photoshoot even moreso one of my most treasured memorabilia that I own.

Did you learn anything about each other, or yourselves, during the shoot that you didn’t know?

JC: I learnt that my Mum was, still is, a force to be reckoned with.

The poses are ‘all out’ and unapologetic.

She was being her authentic self and it's seen clearly through the images. One of the many things I admire about her.

LC: That my daughter is my best friend. Grateful that she wanted to do this. Love her very much.

Which is your favourite image from the shoot and why?

JC: We’ve agreed on this. Our favourite image is the portrait close-up wearing the white tulle hat with a veil, wearing a dress by Eduardo Viotto.

LC: It was my late mother Sylvia’s favourite photo from my photoshoot. It sparks a lot of emotion in me.

Memories of my late mother and late friend Eddie. I remember how everything was set up, how the image came to what it is.

It was a great time, I think the pose itself portrays that.

JC: This picture is the one I have set on my phone for when my Mum calls me.

I think it beautifully resembles my Mum. She is bursting with personality and elegance.

We both miss my grandmother very much and know how much she would have loved to see this. I’m sure it’s made her proud.

Jaylynn, tell us a bit about what preparing for an international pageant entails and why is Miss Grand International different to other pageants?

JC: I am always stunned and amazed at just how huge the pageant world is.

The more I become involved and invested in it, the more I feel I need to learn and work at it.

I am preparing physically and mentally. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

I try to work on different elements of myself, such as public speaking, learning about current events and issues locally and globally.

I’ve been able to talk to fellow contestants and get to know each other personally. We’ve all been chatting on a WhatsApp chat.

Equally, I’m trying my best to show gratitude to all the MGI support pages on social media.

I feel so grateful to have so many people supporting me locally and globally. It never goes amiss.

MGI is different as it has a strong focus on advocacy and social issues.

The pageant’s motto is “Stop the War and Violence”.

It aims to raise awareness about the impact of violence and conflict around the world.

It is a relatively new pageant but there are already over 80 countries participating. It is a huge international event. The diversity is outstanding.

There is a huge emphasis on the interview round and public speaking.

Hopefully my ‘Miss Best Interview’ award at the Miss Gibraltar pageant comes in handy.

I’m a teacher, so I’m lucky I get to work on this on a day-to-day basis. I can’t wait to head over!

Jaylynn, tell us about what you hope to achieve throughout your pageant journey?

JC: The one thing I took from the Miss Gibraltar pageant was self-growth and self-acceptance.

Pageants are about being the best version of yourself - whatever that means to you.

I feel that I have already achieved so much in terms of personal growth. Mostly in self-acceptance and confidence from within.

I try to feel secure in my own abilities and self-worth.

On another note, I hope to have fun. I hope to meet people from all around the world, make friends, be present and involved and fully immerse myself into the whole pageant experience!

Follow Jaylynn Cruz on Instagram at @MissGrandGibraltar

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