Janelle Commissiong


Trinidadian Performing & Recording Artists

From: Trinidad and Tobago
Best Known for: The first Black Miss Universe

Bio: Janelle Commissiong was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad to a Trinidadian father and Venezuelan mother. She migrated with her family to New York at the age of 13. After graduating high school Janelle attended the Fashion Institute of Technology before returning to Trinidad in 1976. On July 16, 1977she competed in the Miss Universe beauty pageant held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and made history by becoming the first black winner of the contest. She traveled the World as a goodwill ambassador afterwards, and decided to take a cash prize instead of a contract with Paramount Pictures (one of her Miss Universe prizes).

She has been the head of Bowen Marine in Chaguaramas, Trinidad since 1989 when her husband Brian Bowen, the founder, perished in a tragic auto accident. The Boat manufacturer is one of the most successful in the region and exports boats to the Caribbean, the US and Europe. She has been married to publisher Alwin Chow and they adopted a Daughter, Sasha together. ‘"Penny" as she is fondly called, was awarded Trinidad’s Trinity Cross in 1977 and has had three stamps bearing her likeliness issued in Trinidad and Tobago.

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