NME Print: REVIEW - Becoming a Queen


At the age of 16, I had the opportunity to visit where I was born. It was also the moment that I experienced my first carnival in the Virgin Islands. St. Thomas’s carnival was wonderful. Seeing all these beautiful people, in all shapes and sizes, in gorgeous costumes without a care in the world was a powerful feeling. I’m still learning about my island heritage and what it all means. So it was a pleasure to learn about Becoming a Queen and the celebration and legacy of being Carnival Queen of the Bands in Caribana: Toronto Caribbean Carnival.


Becoming a Queen is a documentary about Joella Crichton, the undefeated Queen of Caribbean Carnival for nine years, who is going for her tenth and final title. It took me back to the moment of seeing all those exquisite costumes at the age of 16. But Carnival is more than just pretty costumes. There is a history behind the beauty and Crichton realizes that a tenth win solidifies her legacy in the Caribbean-Canadian community. You see through her and her family’s perspective what taking on these challenges year after year means, the toll it takes, and talent behind the design.


There are so many levels to this film, including Crichton’s sister, Mischa, who also competes in the female individual competitions. There is truly an artistry to the pageantry. But the beauty of this documentary is to educate the world on a culture that is important to many in this country. You receive the history of carnival. What it means to the community and generations to come. Just watching the performances on my television brought such pride. You can feel how much of themselves they leave on the stage. It brought tears to my eyes.


Becoming a Queen is a beautiful glimpse into the Carnival world and what it means to those who take the torch and shine for a whole community. Chris Strikes created a gorgeous portrayal of pride, art, and family. And Crichton showed what being a true queen really is. It makes me proud to be of Caribbean descent.