lesa-gayle-wee-tom-milan_web.jpgStaff Writer

A former cast member of BET’s popular College Hill: South Beach will represent Jamaica at the Miss International pageant.

Jamaican native Lesa-Gayle Milan Wee Tom, popularly known as Milan, a South Florida resident, has been competing, and winning, beauty contests since she was 14.

Milan won the Miss Florida Caribbean, Miss Jamaica Caribbean World, Miss Jamaica Jamzone International, Miss Jamzone International and Miss Jamaica International. She will head to Chengdu, China, this month to compete in the 2010 Miss International pageant, the third largest beauty competition in the world.

The current Miss International, Anagabriela Espinoza, of Mexico, will crown her successor, to be chosen from among 60 contestants.

Win or lose, Milan said, the opportunity to set foot on the world stage makes her victorious. She’s preparing for the competition by “continuing to exercise, eat healthily and work on my walk.”

The 21-year old Florida Atlantic University broadcast journalism honor student brings a practical approach to the competition.

“I’m just hoping for the best. I try not to focus too much on winning, which takes away enjoyment of the overall experience. I’m just looking forward to interacting with the other delegates,” said Milan, who will be making her first trip to China. “That alone is amazing.”

Milan’s appeal extends beyond the physical. Besides writing a self-help book, she also promotes awareness of children born with disabilities.

“I’m the chair of the One Love charitable organization right now. We raise money for orphans throughout the Caribbean. I hope to one day own my own orphanage,” said Milan, who speaks fluent Spanish.

Milan was among eight cast members on College Hill: South Beach reality television show in 2009 that televised the daily activities of male and female college roommates.  As an only child, she said, living with eight other people was a major challenge.

“That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learned to live with others, I learned to deal with other personalities and I learned to share,” she said.

“I learned a lot about myself and I had to make some changes. I used to be really self-centered and now I’m able to deal with different personalities no matter what is thrown at me,” she said.

A professional model, Milan has appeared in several music videos with some of the hottest hip-hop and rap artists, including Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Nelly, Yung Jeezy, Sean Garret, Flo Rida, Sean Kingston, Akon, Timberland, Plies and Trick Daddy.

Milan is eager to share what she’s learned about success with other women and young girls and is writing an as yet untitled book. The idea is to “encourage young women to embrace themselves and to develop the confidence to become winners in their everyday lives.”

She expects the book to be published early next year.

The book will include beauty pageant tips but its focus will be not on winning a crown “but also to win as a person.”

“This book will help young girls and women who are dealing with insecurities within themselves,” she said.

Renee Michelle Harris may be reached at RMHarris15@Bellsouth.net.

Photo courtesy of Lyntina Townsend. Miss Jamaica International: Lesa-Gayle Milan Wee Tom