Exclusive Interview: Kendal O’Reilly

Pageant winner Kendal O’Reilly has carried the title of Miss Swimsuit UK for the past 12 months. As we look towards the crowning of the next winner in the upcoming Manchester heats, we sit down to catch up with model Kendal to talk about the competition, and what she is looking forward to.

Winning Miss Swimsuit UK is quite a feat. How did you prepare for the competition and what do you do to maintain your image?
I was initially scouted for Miss Swimsuit UK in 2012. The company scouters approached me to consider taking part, but at the time I didn’t feel swimsuit ready. Four years later I was approached again. This time I felt a little bit more confident. I thought, “I’ve nothing to lose – why the hell not!” I never imagined I’d win the crown of Miss Swimsuit UK and go on to place the 7th in the world finals.

In the run up to both the UK and world finals my fitness and beauty regime was very much the same. I trained weekly and had a personal fitness programme with coach Hollie Philippa at Hale Country Club. I’m a firm believer of ‘healthy mind, healthy body’ and being a fully qualified yoga teacher helped me to mix cardio and weight training with hours of self-guided yoga and meditation.

What did it feel like to actually win, and what does the title mean to you?
Honestly I cannot tell you just how much being crowned Miss Swimsuit UK means to me and my wonderful family. The support, well wishes and congratulations I received from friends, family and strangers has been over whelming. Holding this title, based on work ethic, looks, personality and talent is not only an achievement I’m extremely proud of but it also allows me to represent a brand which stands for all that I strongly believe in. Miss Swimsuit UK as a brand focuses on empowering young woman. We encourage healthy lifestyles and choices, and applaud the strong, determined, independent woman of today.

Since being crowned I have attended celebrity events and travelled to the south of France, Nice, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, the Caribbean and Dubai, representing Miss Swimsuit UK and showcasing our core ethics. Whilst traveling to the Caribbean I competed in the world final of Miss Swimsuit, where I competed against 80 of the world’s most beautiful swimwear and fitness models. Here I was placed 7th in the world, a position I feel incredibly honoured to have received.

I’ve had photoshoots with world renowned photographers from the UK and USA, and I’ve also modelled for brands such as Boda Skins, BKLYN, Monster and more. I’ve had endorsements with clothing ranges, fitness supplements, leisure centres and opportunities I’d never imagined.

Whilst modelling to some may seem all glitz and glam and generally somewhat superficial there is another world this title has enabled me to be a part of; the world of charity work. Little did I know whilst walking the stage in the caribbean for the world final that my incredibly supportive father had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Little did I know he was battling with this illness and devastating news privately. On return home my father collected me from the airport with a tear in his eye and a proud smile on his face. He still couldn’t find the words to tell me. Whilst lapping up the excitement of my recent experience, my dad was crumbling inside. My dad has been in the care of Christie’s Hospital and they have been outstanding. The title has enabled me to network and gain contacts in the world of fundraising for several charities. My focus right now has primarily been on healthcare providers for cancer victims. I’m looking to get involved with Christie’s fundraising events, and raise more money and awareness for cancer research. Miss Swimsuit UK has helped provide a greater platform for some of these events.

What advice would you give to aspiring pageant girls?
Smile, always remain positive in difficult situations, make new friends, and consider every opportunity that is thrown your way.

What are you looking forward to now that you have the title of Miss Swimsuit UK.
We have so many shoots, interviews, campaigns and charity events lined up over the next few months, I couldn’t possibly choose one. I am however really looking forward to meeting the contestants of 2017 and helping them with any questions they may have. The next casting is the 27th April in Manchester – I’m so excited! You can find out all the info on www.missswimsuituk.co.uk.

What has been a highlight for you personally since winning?
As well as working with some of the most amazingly talented photographers in the world, a treasured highlight for me personally was walking off the stage, coming home to see my gorgeous baby, opening his arms, babbling and giggling with joy as he played with mummy’s crown!

What’s the nicest thing someone has said to you or done for you since winning?
Oh people have been so lovely and supportive! I guess, most people are just so shocked that I won the title only six months after giving birth. Many have applauded my determination, integrity and hard work with raising a beautiful baby and maintaining this title.

Who is your celebrity crush?
Honestly, I don’t have one. I don’t even really have a type, although nice eyes are a big thing for me. I believe you can truly read and understand a person by looking into their eyes. If that connection is there, you’ve got to see where it goes.

Lastly, in the new tradition of WorldofJsky.com what do you think of Jsky? Be as honest as you like.
I’ve known Jsky for many, many years and each year he blossoms. He amazes me with his work ethic, ambition, confidence and fearless approach to life!

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