By OZFM’s Robert Shawn Andrews
Founder and former director of Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador, Isabelle Fry starts a career path as a Mount Pearl City Councillor
Isabelle Fry is a people person. She is never one to shy away from a conversation or the opportunity to get to know someone on a personal level. For those who know her, her door is always open.
A deep desire to connect with people is ideal for anyone looking to enter the world of politics. After all, a politician is in business for the people. Understanding and empathizing with a person’s needs is what gets people elected. This is something Fry strived for during her successful campaign for Mount Pearl City Council this past fall. However, unlike the lawyers and businessmen and women who decide to venture into politics, Fry’s background is a little more unique.
Most people know Fry as the founder and former Director of the Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador pageant, a role she held for 20 years before stepping aside in 2015.
Her first foray into the sometimes chaotic world of pageantry came when she was 18 years old, living in Alberta chasing a career in make-up artistry. Isabelle was quickly noticed due to her height and natural beauty and was strongly encouraged to model by her peers.
During this time, Fry was taken under the wing of a former Miss Canada title holder, and she developed a new found confidence that soon helped her come out of her shell and break her fear of putting herself out there. Upon moving back home, she started up her own modelling agency, which led to her assisting in the Miss Newfoundland and Labrador pageant.
Wanting to shatter the negative stereotypes associated with pageants, Fry founded the Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador pageant in 1996 as a way to showcase the youth of this province via a merit based scoring system that focused on aspects such as intelligence and fundraising, rather than exterior beauty alone. Additionally, she hoped to give young girls a chance to develop the skills that she lacked herself as a teenager.
“When I grew up, I was 6 feet tall. No boys would dance with me. I had a hard time finding clothes to fit me. I had no confidence.” Fry recalls. “My vision was to have my titleholders out in the community, volunteering, making a difference, and to give teenagers a platform and voice so people listen to what you have to say. There are kids that, instead of playing video games or just hanging out with friends, they are involved in their communities and participate in extra-curricular activities and have tremendous talents and skills within the arts, so let’s celebrate that.”
In 2015, Fry made the difficult decision to step away from the title she helped to prominence, recognizing that she had taken the pageant as far as she could take it and new ideas and new energy would be beneficial for the future of Miss Teen.
Not Just a Hobby
The Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador Pageant was not just a hobby for Fry, it was a passion and, next to her son, the most important thing in her life. Stepping away came with unexpected consequences as, without having a pageant to organize, Fry discovered an emptiness inside as if she had lost a part of herself. A longing for something new to fill the void, an upcoming municipal election, and chance phone call from existing Mount Pearl Councillor, Lucy Stoyles, all prompted Fry to enter into politics.
“I have always been interested in politics,” notes Fry. “When this opportunity came around, it just felt like the right decision.”
Believing in the power of the personal touch, Fry spent weeks knocking on as many doors and conversing with as many people as possible in order to plead her case to the citizens of Mount Pearl. In the end, her methods paid off as on September 26th, she was elected to the city’s council with 3429 votes.
Now, with a new purpose in life, Fry admits that she is still in the learning stages of her newfound career.
“There are lots of things that I want to do for the city and its people. It’s nice to be able to say, ‘I want to do this‘, and ‘I want to do that’, but you have to be careful because there is only so much within the budget you can work with.”
She goes on to mention that there are two issues that she hopes to work towards as a member of council.
“One of the first things I want to do is make improvements to the animal holding facility in Mount Pearl. I also want to try and find a way to increase the amount of affordable housing, especially for seniors.”
Looking forward towards the years to come, she notes, “I have a lot of goals and a lot of dreams, and I’m going to do everything that I can.”