Business owner, Chef, and Performer, 22-year-old, Ronaldo Santana says he devotes his life to the mentorship and development of young men and women in Trinidad and Tobago. Santana has a passion for Law and a strong belief that true success is measured by personal satisfaction.
Being a Libertarian to his core, he believes self-acceptance is the most powerful thing one can do. He is a scholarship recipient, part-time volunteer, and full-time family man. Growing up with a resilient family, he was taught the true meaning of success, failure and developed a sense of kaleidoscopic vision, that allows his perspective to have a silver lining.
Featured within this candid interview of Trinidad and Tobago’s future leaders and influencers, we at IzzSo give you a personal look into Ronaldo Santana’s personal development and all the attributes that make him unique.
RONALDO SANTANA – MR. ELITE TT
Q: What has been a challenge you’ve experienced in life, and how did you overcome it?
A: I have had a problem with accepting myself and who I was and am becoming, I always wanted to make a difference and be a change, but I couldn’t do that without loving myself, I forced myself to love all the things about me and now I am who I am and I love me, one of the most courageous things we as men can do is letting go of what is hurting us inside. Embrace your greatness, don’t discredit yourself because others say you are too much, trust me they will try, Be who you were called to be, they will adjust. I know sometimes walking away is the only option, but don’t do it because you want someone to miss you or have sympathy because they took you for granted. But because you finally respect yourself to know you deserve better. Don’t just close the book when bad things like this happen, we all face things every day. The pressure is what all precious things need to become what they are meant to be, don’t turn the page and leave loose ends, finish the chapter and then move on to another. I know we collectively can succeed and help each other to overcome what has 80% of the world in its vice.
Q: Why were you the best candidate to win Mister Elite TT?
A: I knew I was ready and capable of representing my country on the world stage, Being a part of this phenomenon called Trinidad and Tobago, having in my existence echoed what these islands are built on, the mix of race, denomination, culture and food. Born amidst the rousing rhythms of the percussive tabla, jembe, shak shak, and steel pan, the Calypso, Soca and Chutney songs of my homeland ring through my every word and work, a carnival of optimism and creativity. In addition to having extensive experience dealing with youth in the form of mentorship. I strongly believe that I have faced and overcome, some of my tougher battles. I communicate well, possess a positive attitude, a team player, goal-oriented, flexible, dependable, is guided by Integrity, and creative. All in all paired with my talents, experience and knowledge of my beautiful land. Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly going to be showcased in our best light.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in this pageant? Why did you want to win the pageant?
A: Pageantry is a show of pride and brotherhood. This bond is formed at workshops, outings and even on coronation night. It is something that goes beyond which area you come from or what country you belong to. It is something much bigger than any individual, team, pageant coach, or title. It is a chance to proudly represent your country.
Usually, you get to put on the red, white and black when you are really ready, ready to represent, ready to put yourself to the test, For me, to be able to do the thing you love for the country you love is almost surreal. It is the best opportunity in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago has a lot to offer, to the world, and in my heart, our culture and ability to co-exist despite our differences can not only educate but be an example to the rest of the world. Unity is needed for survival globally. As we all know unity protects us from all the evil doings, when we together stand only then we get freedom from all kind of negativity, and this is what I see day to day within my country, we may have blunders here and there, but the basis of our past transcending our present and creating a future is what, Trinidad and Tobago is known for, this sing-song accent collectively saying “Together we aspire, Together we archive”.
Q: Do you think that male pageantry objectifies men?
A: Firstly there are different types of Objectification, and in Pageantry, society objectifies men so much that they start to objectify themselves. Portraying themselves as objects of what society deems as masculinity, rather than complex people with feelings, platforms, intelligence and needs to be a change. The belief that certain men are trophies still permeates through our culture, whether it’s in the media, education, or simple everyday conversation. When we’re taught that a certain look is not manly enough or acceptable, to represent your people intellectually, it dehumanizes millions of hard-working men that fall short of that 5′ 10 – 6’4 height and 45 inched chest span, and it’s very difficult to have empathy for someone that you don’t view as a real man with a mandate. Sadly not all people agree.
Q: Why is your platform/title important to you?
A: All the guys whom I competed against on coronation night are confident, handsome and hardworking and they all were deserving of it, but what really makes this important to me is the recognition that this is a job that I am ready for and my responsibility for this job requires me to market this pageant as any good spokesperson would. Having this gives me an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been yet tapped into fully before. Being not only a trailblazer for the future but an examplar for the future Mr. Elite Trinidad and Tobago is a pleasure of mine.
Q: About the social media bullying that all contestants experienced before the finale of the competition, how did you overcome the online bullying and how did you triumph beyond it?
A: Online bullies, aka cyberbullies, I expected it, these are the people who would have attacked or harassed me and the guys online. To me, they may simply have a difference of opinion, or they may have a cause that they are advocating for as I am. Whatever their purpose was in doing this, I knew they were vicious and unreasonable. They didn’t play fair, and they didn’t spare feelings. My method of coping with this involved me sitting back and planning strategically, I paid close attention to my page and post but replied selectively, I was sure to be cognizant about what I am feeling and entertaining in the comments and which pending posts would have indulged them further. I knew within myself, my purpose for being a part of this show was to gain an opportunity, and their ignorance of that fact couldn’t stop that from happening. Rest assured I listened to them and surprisingly saw their side, In turn, corrected the aspects of my offerings that needed retouching. At this point, it wasn’t about me anymore but about my cause.
Q: There is a group of people who does not support the concept of beauty contests. What will you tell them?
A: For too long pageantry has been portrayed one way, in recent years they are now paying less attention to the carnal aspects and deviating to a more open-minded, intellectual and humanitarian display that has now given more meaning to being the titleholder, thus introducing otherwise more reserved selections to compete and feel, free and comfortable. Who’s to say that a woman cannot become an architect, ascend to the presidency as seen in my country, or in this case a man use this platform to advocate his cause and help in the way he knows how. Being here is an opportunity, this Opportunity is Ambassadorship and Ambassadorship knows no gender.
Q: What have you learned from this competition?
A: I have learned quite a lot being apart of this show, both in life skills and about my fellow brothers. I’ve learned to exude more self-confidence. Competing in pageants has allowed my self-confidence to soar and accomplish far more than I ever thought possible. Wardrobe skills, during the Photoshoots I would have had to dress for a professional setting and this practice gives you skills on what is appropriate for such a setting. In addition, you learn how to create a fashionable wardrobe to look classy and confident without breaking the bank. Failure is a very valuable lesson to learn in life. Great success is one that comes with the most difficult journey. Social media impression, at times you may need to give an impression over the phone or video chat and this can help you do this and learn to impress in a few minutes both verbally and in gesticulating. Adapting to the situation as we have seen at times things will not go as planned. However, the show must go on and you will quickly learn how to adapt to many situations and keep moving. Problem-solving skills are a part of any pageant and so is creativity! For those of us who have competed, our lives have been forever changed in many positive ways. Some things can be difficult about shows like these, but such holds true for any type.
Q: How will you balance your family life and career?
A: To me, it’s a mindset. I have always been involved in extracurricular activities growing up, even in the midst of the most important examinations of my life SEA, NCSE, CXC & University and successfully managed to keep a healthy family life. This is something that comes naturally to me, My family will never be irrelevant to me, and just as this Opportunity or even my budding career is important, so is my Family and Friends. At the end of the day, I may not have gotten full support in person every time, but they always made sure that I was supported and that I knew it.
Q: What is your biggest fear?
A: Having attained the opportunity to assist and be the person to others I wish I had growing up, not standing in the gap and allowing them to face the unnecessary stipulations I have to reach the level of satisfaction in my journey I’m at right now. I’m thankful I overcame them, but they were unnecessary.
Q: How do you define success?
A: To me success something that is personally tailored to everyone, due to their environment, For me, I define success as being holistically, mentally and emotionally satisfied with your offering and how you did it.
Q: Who is the most inspiring person in your life and how?
A: Eric Williams, T&T’s first Prime Minister, took a mantle upon himself to not only govern but lead an otherwise inexperienced population. He took a risk, placed his reputation on the line, gained immortality but it came with sacrifice and dedication. He is a true example of not only a man but one with responsibility. A true example of what being a Man with a Vision is all about.
Q: What do you plan to do after winning the title? How will you inspire others?
A: Visibility, Visibility, Visibility, other than using the platform to advocate for Human Rights and Self Acceptance, I would like to share my Visibility with selected groups, non Profit Organisations and Institutions that have been tirelessly working behind the scenes in aid of uplifting, Mentoring and setting our youths on the right track to becoming law-abiding citizens on their way to success. Some of the discussed groups are the Youth Training Center, Youth for Christ Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Youth Development Network, Association of Single Fathers, St Judes Home for Girls, Operation Smile Orphanage, El Shaddai Orphanage, The MatchMe Project and more. I know that I can help, and I want to help, why not do so at full capacity.
Q: Please name one interesting thing that others don’t know about you?
A: I have a hyperactive imagination: This is my peers’ complaint as well as my greatest gift. I can mentally project anything required, but the catch is, I don’t control when I imagine it. Meeting going on? Why not watch the last episode of “What yuh know” in my head? I am Studying? I just remembered The Trinidad All Stars need a tik tok or flag guy. Do you get the point?
If you missed the live streaming of the competition, please click https://www.facebook.com/manoftheworldtt/videos/842199393240330/ And if your interested in getting to know more about Mr. Santana, you can find him here at https://www.instagram.com/ronaldos.official