Qin is Fab at Miss Friendship Ambassador 2018

Congratulations Qin!!! 

Meet Qin!

Meet Qin!

I still vividly remember the day I met this beauty! We sat in a cozy coffee shop tucked away in the South Loop of downtown Chicago, and she began to tell me about the crazy pageant journey she was preparing to endure. Qin did not grow up as a toddler in a tiara, and she had never held a life long dream of being  a beauty queen. However, she shared with me something even more special.. her personal story and ambitions. She wanted to compete in her first pageant, Miss Friendship Ambassador so that she could not only gain communication skills, but also grow in confidence. Qin moved from Shanghai, China to the United States at the age of 17 years old. Since then, she has learned to speak fluently in English, attain her masters degree in classical piano, and opened a luxury spa (Q Spa+) in Gold Coast. What a girl boss!!!

Contestant #6, Qin Fan slaying in swimwear!!!

Contestant #6, Qin Fan slaying in swimwear!!!

I sat in the audience confident that Qin had learned the adequate skills from my consulting services to perform well, however nothing could have prepared me for what she brought to that stage. Qin's confidence was larger than life, and I'm confident that the 700th guest in the farthest corner in the back of the room could feel her stage presence!

Oh ya know...just being extra for my client. goooo qin!

Oh ya know...just being extra for my client. goooo qin!

Qin and the Miss Friendship Ambassador 2018 court!

Qin and the Miss Friendship Ambassador 2018 court!

The entire night was a complete dream, and I am in awe of how beautiful Qin looked, and how well she performed. She left her heart out on the stage in front of 700 guests, and played her classical piano piece with such poise, skill, and grace. Proud would be an understatement concerning how I feel about this beautiful young woman!

QIn giving her first exclusive interview post crowning!

QIn giving her first exclusive interview post crowning!

Qin walked away from this evening as 1st runner up (yes at her first pageant!) the princess crown, and $3,000 cash! But more importantly, she walked away with the confidence to command any room she enters, friendships to last a lifetime, and skills that will serve her well beyond the pageant industry. It was my complete honor to work with this queen, and I can't wait to see what she will conquer next! 

If you're ready to earn a crown of your own, while also gaining confidence and other life skill, please feel free to drop me a note! :) 

10 Gowns from Miss Universe that made me go YAAAS!!!

The Miss Universe preliminary competitions have concluded, and soon we will discover which 12 delegates will advance to finals night! I personally LOVE the evening gown component of pageantry, because it offers young women the opportunity to show their sense of style, poise, and regalness. 

In no particular order, here are 10 queens in their evening gowns that made my pageant loving heart go YAAAAAS!  

Brazil

The ornate jewels of the gown shined onstage, and made this queen look just that much more regal.

The ornate jewels of the gown shined onstage, and made this queen look just that much more regal.

Mexico

I know... high slit glittery dresses are to pageants as Tippy Tops are to LIFE.. BUT Miss Mexico and her features simply POP in this cool toned gown.

I know... high slit glittery dresses are to pageants as Tippy Tops are to LIFE.. BUT Miss Mexico and her features simply POP in this cool toned gown.

Phillipines

The bottom of this gown was EVERYTHING on stage from the way it moved, to the way it caught the light.

The bottom of this gown was EVERYTHING on stage from the way it moved, to the way it caught the light.

Thailand

Haute couture and simply a work of art brought to the pageant stage, which is a refreshing change of pace.  

Haute couture and simply a work of art brought to the pageant stage, which is a refreshing change of pace.  

Denmark

Serving Elsa realness!!!

Serving Elsa realness!!!

Nicaragua 

I live for a moment where a girl catches the wind!

I live for a moment where a girl catches the wind!

Dominican Republic 

Simply a gorgeous nude illusion

Simply a gorgeous nude illusion

USA

Miss U-S-Slay pops in vivid red 

Miss U-S-Slay pops in vivid red 

Puerto Rico 

Can we just acknowledge how snatched her waist is in this gown?!

Can we just acknowledge how snatched her waist is in this gown?!

Venezuela

Venezuela wows the crowd with a princess moment by transforming her dress in the midst of a twirl!

Venezuela wows the crowd with a princess moment by transforming her dress in the midst of a twirl!

Who were your standouts in evening gown?!

Fav #MissUniverse OOTD Miss U-S-SLay & Miss Curacao!

Pageant girls, our holiday is quickly approaching! On January 29th over 86 beautiful delegates will represent their home country at the annual Miss Universe pageant, live from the Philippines! 

The associated Miss Universe events are my personal fashion week, and my inner Carrie Bradshaw simply couldn't handle these two beauties who donned my favorite looks of last week!

 

Miss USA (Miss U-S-Slay Deshauna Barber)

Deshauna wearing House of CB. 

Deshauna wearing House of CB. 

Olive has definitely had a moment this year, and Deshauna reminds us why by slaying in this olive toned two-piece bandage ensemble. She compliments it with the perfect minimal gold pieces, and nude shoes that accentuate her height giving her legs for days! I am here for the serve Miss U-S-Slay!!!

Miss Universe Curacao - Chanelle de Lau 

Chanelle styled in VBKandTriple7curacao 

Chanelle styled in VBKandTriple7curacao 

Where do I start with this masterpiece?! First, this asymmetrical midi top is EVERYTHING!!! Chanelle paired the flowy top with structured statement pieces that bring the perfect balance to the ensemble.  Also, I must say that I'm still gagging over the color palette!!! BRB currently on the hunt for more steel gray and slate. 

Miss Illinois USA Slays The Circus

On Saturday October 22nd, Miss Illinois USA, Whitney Wandland served as the guest ringmaster for the UniverSoul Circus, and absolutely SHUT IT DOWN with her phenomenal styling.

Here are the deats behind the slay! 

Whitney Wandland, Miss Illinois USA shows off a Seams Sew Jazzy's original

Whitney Wandland, Miss Illinois USA shows off a Seams Sew Jazzy's original

Jasmine Dean, is personally one of my favorite girl bosses in Chicagoland! She is the CEO of Seams Sew Jazzy, and the mastermind designer behind Whitney's iconic ringmaster jacket. 

"It's a vintage sequin baroque fabric, and I was inspired by the Victorian Era.", states Jasmine.  

UWJ2.jpg

The blazer features two peplums that created the perfect amount of movement for the beauty queen and NBA dancer's moves down the Soul Train line!

Want to cop? Reach out to Jasmine and let her serve you a slay. 

Miss USA 2016 Top 15 Prediction

My top 15 prediction for Miss USA 2016 in alphabetical order.

Alabama 

Aside from performing strong on the stage, Peyton has such a big and charming personality, that I think the judges won't help but to love this sweet home Alabama girl. Come on down Alabama, welcome to the top 15!

California 

California says that she was bred for pageantry. Considering that her mother was a former Miss USA delegate herself, and standing at 5'11, she must just be right! Nadia served face every time she hit the stage, AND she has legs for days. Strut on down to your placement California!

District of Columbia

Deshauna had a solid performance in both swimsuit and evening gown. You can tell that DC has come to win this year. This beauty also serves in the military, which could really add to her appeal in the interview portion of the competition. A girl that can serve her country, AND serve on the stage?! COME ON DOWN Miss District of Columbia!

Georgia 

I personally find Georgia to have one of the prettiest faces in the competition. We all know that the Southern States come to take it all on the national stage. I think her ability to embody the "girl next door", while also having the credentials to be a glamazon will fall in line with the new owner's direction of branding. Georgia, you're next...COME ON DOWN!

Hawaii 

I can't even.... I just cant! Hawaii was an absolute show stopper during the preliminary competition, and her journey to the crown video portrayed her humble and philanthropic nature. She nailed her walk during each phase of the competition, and stole the show by wearing one of the top gowns of the evening. No need to say more, ALOHA HAWAII!

Illinois 

Illinois has really come through for the Midwest this year! Rarely do we think of midwestern girls as being exotic, but this first generation American with Lebanese and Egyptian origins is proving that the Midwest can bring more diversity to the USA stage. She performed consistently in each phase of the competition, and really shined in her evening gown, which I still believe was painted on to perfection!

On a personal and completely unbiased note (okay maybe a little biased HA) Zena is one of the most sweetest and down to earth girls that I have met in pageantry. In addition, she has worked tirelessly as Miss Illinois UA to ensure that she is the best representative she can be. She's that girl that you just want to brunch with... and who doesn't like brunch?! Make some Illi-NOISE (sorry I had to) and come on down Zena!!! #SLAY

Maryland 

Maryland never disappoints and this year is no different. Christina had great moments on stage, and her Journey to The Crown video will just make you fall in love with this contestant even more. Do you think she has Nana Meriwether on speed dial for tips? Come on down Maryland!

 

Nevada

Nevada has such a multicultural look, that will serve amazing at the Miss Universe competition. Also, she has become a large advocate for speaking out in support fof families affected by substance abuse. She has the look, philanthropic drive, and the walk. See you in the top Nevada!

North Carolina 

Devin deserves a separate award just for being called to compete at a national competition at the last minute! She received the call to step into her role as Miss North Carolina at about 10:30 AM and was on the plane to Vegas by 8:00 PM that evening. She has made the transition look effortless, which is a skill that Miss USA needs. And hey, her amazing performance doesn't hurt either. And my next spot goes to.....NORTH CAROLINA!

Ohio 

Ohio came to win this year! Each time this beauty takes the stage she is ON!!! I can't compare her look to any other contestant, which is going to help her remain memorable to the judges. She is a first grade teacher, and honey she is walking like she has some girl's to school in serving. Oh...hi Ohio, come on doooown!

Oklahoma 

Who else thought to look for Oklahoma completely on the fact that Olivia brought the title home to their state last year? I always wonder how a state follows up a win. I enjoyed watching Taylor, and I can't find a reason why she wouldn't place. You're next Oklahoma!

South Dakota

I don't think I have ever personally cheered or picked out a delegate from South Dakota, and there is a first for everything. I believe that South Dakota can go far this year. She performed tremendously, and shut down the evening gown competition with a couture selection from Lebanese designer Tony Ward. See you Sunday South Dakota!

Texas

Texas always comes prepared for pageants as they're infamously known for coming out of the womb competing. Daniella's look will serve her tremendously at Miss Universe, and being the only Mexican American delegate this year offers her a chance to be a stand out. Never underestimate Texas...come on down Daniella! 

Virginia 

YAAAAAS in the name of everything that is Black Girl Magic! Virginia did not come to play, but to slay. Her face changed with ease and she gave us a little excitement, flirt, and elegance with each look. Did anyone else have to catch their breath or clutch their pearls watching her compete in swimsuit? She served eyes, body, AND turns. Twirl to your spot queen! 

Wisconsin 

1) Her face is striking! 2) She walks with such an unbelievable confidence 3) She CAME THROUGH for the Midwest! Wisconsin, take your spot!

Making a Beauty Queen

When one thinks of what makes a dynamic Miss USA, you might immediately think that the women who compete for the coveted title are glamorous, beautiful, and trendy. Although all of these qualities are predominately true and expected amongst Miss USA hopefuls, this mentality is also limiting. The 52 young ladies vying for the title come from an array of intriguing backgrounds and origins. Amongst this year's competitors you will find a doctor, rugby player, and even a young woman who serves with our nation' army. 

Therefore, I love that Miss USA transformed a few of the delegates to showcase what truly makes a "beauty queen". We are introduced to each young woman featured in the video in her profession, favorite sport, or male dominated hobby and she is then transformed into a beautiful and confident queen. Standing strong in your passion regardless if it fits someone's stereotypical view of the beauty and pageant industry is essentially what makes Miss USA.

Thanks Miss USA for showcasing an array of beauty that makes women queens!

You can check out the video below! 

10 Gowns that Slayed Miss USA 2016

The Miss USA evening gown competition is literally one of my favorite unofficial holidays. It's where we get to see what looks are trending, who had the best gown, and gasp in unison at the looks that we may not collectively understand.

To commemorate my favorite pageant occasion, I have picked my top 10 pageant gowns from the preliminary evening gown competition. My picks are in no particular order!

Hawaii (Favorite Gown) 

Miss Hawaii USA, Chelsea Hardin without a doubt wore my favorite look of the night! This island girl at heart brought the sexy and refined elegance of her state in an evening gown that features delicate applique flowers, which contribute to the nude illusion; thus making her my new favorite flower child. I also credit the fact that she styled this look perfectly by keeping the earrings minimal and her hair in relaxed waves. The dress flowed magnificently on stage and really showcased the bombshell wearing it! In short... she SLAYED!

California 

Miss California USA, Nadia Mejia has successfully branded herself as a true California girl! She effortlessly WORKED this gown on stage which I could picture being blown in the Cali breeze at a chic party near the beach. A girl can easily be lost in a gown with so much material, but this Californian's sass and skill pulled it off without error. I'm also in love with the color selection, which enabled her to look absolutely sun kissed! 

District of Columbia 

Deshauna Barber, Miss District of Columbia USA has been highlighted for having a bold fashion sense, since being crowned in her state winning evening gown. I expected nothing less of uniqueness and risk from this beauty queen, and she did not disappoint! Her beautiful brown skin pops in gold, and she stood out amongst the other contestants who wore gowns that featured organza skirts. In other words... YAAAS QUEEN! 

North Carolina 

Thankfully Miss North Carolina USA, Devin Grant only needed to hem her evening gown to be ready for the Miss USA stage. She was called upon last minute to represent her state at Miss USA, and she did not disappoint! I believe that this is a classic pageant look that we have all seen before, however she shined in that it flatters her perfectly, and looks polished. Who says you can't slay the competition with only a notice of a couple of days?! Kudos North Carolina! 

South Dakota 

Miss South Dakota USA, Madison Mckeown brought us a look that transcends far beyond the Miss USA stage. When this beauty stepped out to showcase her gown, I immediately wanted to see Lupita Nyongo try if for her next acceptance speech. The gown is simple, clean, and enabled the girl to be visible. Very rarely do pageant dresses translate into being appropriate for other events, leaving girls to getting rid of them after the competition.  Madison...keep this gown because I'm sure you'll be needing it to shine once again on a red carpet! In other words, homegirl looked HAUTE!!!

Extra points to South Dakota for seeking out Lebanon based couture designer, Tony Ward. 

Illinois 

I'll try not to show my home state bias here, but Zena Malak, Miss Illinois USA was completely on point with her Miss USA selection. My favorite aspect about her evening gown is that it looks as if this dress was painted on or perfectly contoured for her body! It's risky wearing an aspect of a dress that won the previous year (Olivia's pink ruffled ballgown) but I believe she put her own twist on the ruffles by featuring them on a mermaid silhouette. In short, I AM HERE FOR THIS LOOK!

Louisiana 

Come through Miss Louisiana USA!!! No one in the competition this year had anything similar to this gown. Maaliyah is also the only contestant to bring the body suit trend to this year's Miss USA stage. She took a risk of combining three trends (bodysuit, sheer fabric, dynamic organza train) this year, and it was definitely executed well. I would rather have a girl that takes a risk, than one who plays it safe. Way to take a risk Louisiana! 

West Virginia 

Is that Miss West Virginia USA, Nichole Greene, or Jessica Rabbit?! Hey, you thought it, and i said it! I love this sexy homage to old hollywood. The slit is perfectly placed, and the gown fits this beauty like a dream. Extra credit is scored here for the pop of gold provided by her shoes! 

Mississippi

Miss Mississippi USA, Haley Sowers made my list by looking nothing short of angelic in her gown selection. The primary appeal of this dress is the way it flows on stage and how it just comes to life when the stage lights hit it. This dress was made for motion!

Wisconsin 

I feel like we have definitely seen this dress before; maybe in a former life, or maybe styled differently on various girls. Either way, Miss Wisconsin USA Kate Redeker breathed a new life into this look.  The color popped against her olive skin and enhanced her subtle smokey eye. She looked nothing short of regal and did not even come close to becoming lost in her garment.  

Pageant Swimsuit (Splurge or Save?!)

Photo Cred: Miss Universe Organization (Left to right: Olivia Culpo Miss USA/Miss Universe 2012, Crystle Stewart Miss USA 2008, Pia Wurtzbach Miss Universe 2015)  

Photo Cred: Miss Universe Organization (Left to right: Olivia Culpo Miss USA/Miss Universe 2012, Crystle Stewart Miss USA 2008, Pia Wurtzbach Miss Universe 2015)

 

Putting together a BOMB competition wardrobe, is one of the most important aspects of preparing for a pageant. Wardrobe styling is imperative for your brand as a delegate, because people naturally form judgements about someone from the initial first impression. Judges, directors, and pageant staff will see your outfit selection before they know that you volunteer your time on the weekends to non profits or that you can binge watch every Miss USA competition starting from the early 90's.

As a competitor myself, I know just how expensive a pageant wardrobe can get. Girls are easily carrying down payments on cars in their pageant luggage! This pearl clutch worthy realization led me to question my own pageant wardrobe.

Where can I save versus splurge in my competition wardrobe?

The only garment involved in the judgement process of a pageant that I feel comfortable enough to save versus splurge on is the swimsuit competition.

WHY?! I'm SO glad that you asked! Swimsuits are garments that are typically made of similar material which makes it easier to find affordable quality. Here, you are splurging for embellishment and enhancement if you choose to invest more. I wouldn't try this mentality with an evening gown. There are too many different fabrics with unique qualities. So if you're looking for a specific gown to fit your vision, you must invest.

Essentially, all you need from a pageant swimsuit are the following qualities:

  • Fits the competition requirements
  • Flatters your body
  • Makes you feel like the (insert a queen of slayage here...mine is Beyonce!).

If your suit answers, "yes" to the above criteria, save the money and get it!

Victoria's Secret and Venus Swimwear

Photo cred: Left-Victoria's Secret, Far right-Venus Swimwear

Photo cred: Left-Victoria's Secret, Far right-Venus Swimwear

Victoria's Secret and Venus Swimwear are my top two brand picks that will benefit your pageant wardrobe and budget. I have seen swimsuits from each designer grace the bodies of many state pageant winners. Both lines offer a variety of coverage and enhancement options to fit the various concerns and body types of each girl. In addition, there is such an array of styles and colors to choose from that you're guaranteed to find something you love!

Price

  • Victoria's Secret average bikini price range, $80-$150
  • Venus Swimwear average bikini price range, $75-$90

Now go werk that swimsuit competition!

 

 

 

Miss Illinois United States 2016 Search!

12745895_577385945757585_7273562363887148538_n.jpg

Breaking news! After months of being without a director, the Miss United States National Pageant (formerly Miss United States Organization) has selected a new director for the state of Illinois. Ladies we all know what that means...it's pageant time!!!

In just three short months, the new queens will be crowned. Now, even I admit that this is short notice to prep for a pageant, however I definitely believe that it is possible! I'm sure the question on everyone's mind is, "Why is the pageant only 3 months away, and why wasn't it advertised sooner?!"

Because Illinois underwent changes in the directorship, it was unclear whether or not a new director would step up to the plate and host a pageant for the girls and young women of Illinois to compete. So in actuality, there was no pageant scheduled to take place.

Unsure of the future, the national organization hosted a selection process and appointed an accomplished young woman from Chicago, Illinois to compete at the national pageant in Las Vegas this summer as Miss Illinois United States 2016. The new Miss Illinois United States will assume her role officially after her crowning and closing of the former queen's year live at the state pageant finals on May 8th at the Wyndham in Springfield, Illinois. A pageant enthusiast and determined woman has come forward to direct and host the 2016 pageant within the window provided, which is absolutely exciting!

I know that some young women may be disappointed that there will not be a competition for the Miss division. However, let's keep in mind that the national office made this decision prior to a director taking charge. And I am confident that they made a wonderful selection. In addition, we wouldn't want to put anyone through that newly infamous moment in pageant history!

 

We may have our Miss, however there are still many other divisions in need of amazing girls, young women, and women to represent Illinois at the national pageant this summer. Here are the following delegates the organization is seeking:

  • Little Miss United States (Ages 8-9)
  • Pre-Teen Miss United States (Ages 10-12)
  • Miss Junior Teen United States (Ages 13-15)
  • Miss Teen United States (Ages 16-19)
  • Ms. United States (Ages 20-29) *Must not be currently married, but should be divorced or have a child.
  • Ms. Woman United States (aged 30 and up) *Must not be currently married, but should be divorced or have a child.

Host Hotel

Wyndham City Springfield Centre - 700 E Adams St.  | Springfield, IL 62701

Quick Facts

  • Director- Susan Farris-Howard *Former Miss Kentucky USA 1991!!!
  • Host City- Springfield, IL
  • Pageant Date- May 7th and 8th

Reigning Queens

  • Miss Illinois United States 2015-Aubry Bozzano
  • Ms. Illinois United States 2015- Ashley Bradarich
  • Miss Illinois Teen United States 2015- Arnela Karabegovic
  • Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States 2015- Ciara Evans
  • Miss Pre-Teen Illinois United States 2015- Imani Muse
  • Little Miss Illinois United States 2015- Sofia Console

Exclusive offer to Miss Illinois United States 2016 contestants!

I am so excited about the rebranding of the Miss United Organization, that I would love to offer contestants the opportunity to receive a competitive edge. As a former Miss Illinois United States 2014, with experience in judging pageants, I have a unique perspective on not only what the judges will be looking for but also what it takes to win within the Miss United States National system.

To all contestants that enter the pageant and mention, "Miss IL US 2014 sent me!" to the director, I will provide you with a winner's insight guide to assist you in prepping with for pageant! Only the young women whose names I receive from the state director will receive the guide. So don't forget the password!  

Now go off and win that crown!

 

National Website unitedstatesnationalpageants.com

 

 

Queen's Corner: Farewell Miss Teen Maryland United States 2015

Ardelle Dickerson Miss Teen Maryland United States 2015 crowning moment

Ardelle released the hands of her first runner up with an overwhelming wave of excitement, pride, and accomplishment. She had done what only an exclusive group of teens have achieved, by winning the title of Miss Teen Maryland United States 2015 after months of preparation and hard work.

Of all the places you that you can imagine, I met Ardelle on Twitter. Being a titleholder at the time within the Miss United States Organization I was compelled to keep up with all of the upcoming state MUSO competitions and queens with the help of social media. One day, the enthusiasm of one young woman caught my attention. It was evident from her tweets that Ardelle genuinely had a love, determination, and passion for pageants. She would tweet about her excitement, pageant prep, and her dream of winning with her followers. Intrigued, I began following the teen and by the time her competition date approached, I couldn't help but cheer her on from the Midwest. Whenever someone leaves an impression on you from a completely different region of the country, they're worth cheering for!

From the moment that crown was placed on her head, Ardelle hit the ground running and made the balancing act of being a senior at Bowie High School (class of 2016!), and beauty queen look effortless. As her reign comes to an end this weekend, I can't help but feel tremendously proud and excited for this young queen's next endeavor. Between prepping for her final walk, and the hectic behind the scenes work of the upcoming pageant, Ardelle found the time to discuss her year with me and what's to come.

Check out an exclusive farewell interview below!

 

Girl, you have had quite the journey! When did it all begin for you??

I started pageantry in the Summer of 2014, I was 16 and super excited to get involved in a new activity.

 

What was your motivation to begin competing in pageantry?

It was something I’ve always wanted to do. I guess growing up watching Toddlers and Tiaras it sparked an idea and I went for it.

 

So many girls hold the dream of winning a state pageant title. What did it feel like to compete for the title of Miss Teen Maryland United States, AND walk away with the crown?!

I was overly prepared and confident. I knew going in, this is what I wanted and I am going to accomplish my goal. Winning felt as if I was holding my breath forever. I could finally breathe and stop squeezing my first runner up’s hands. I kept telling myself “I did it.. I did it”

Ardelle working that confidence on stage for the swimsuit competition!

What is the most memorable moment from your year as a titleholder?

I spoke to the entire student body of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School about the dangers of CyberBullying and suicide prevention. A few months later, a student who was in the audience came to my job and we kept in touch. I was able to come back to the middle school and talk to the students individually. Little did I know, I changed lives with my speech. I inspired and educated students who remembered me. The small things like that is just bitter sweet.

Using her voice to make an impact

You just have to tell us! What preparations did you take to win your state title.

Hours of training! Having a coach in such a competitive system is key. We worked on everything from mock interviews, dress rehearsals, down to what I was wearing check in and check out. I can’t tell you how many times I was always in the mirror practicing my poses or in the shower answering commonly asked interview questions.

 

You have worked with so many wonderful organizations throughout your reign. Is there an organization in particular that you really enjoyed working with during your year?

The Best Buddies Organization was a non-profit outside of my platform that encourages friendship with people with mental disabilities. I loved working with my school’s chapter and even met my buddy Emily through the program!

 

Name the pageant essential that you can’t live without!

Chinese Laundry Tippy Tops! They are my go to shoes in and outside of pageantry.

 

Do you have any makeup tips to share with future teen contestants?

Definitely cater to your face. Don’t get caught up in the hype with YouTube videos, contouring, and all these crazy hacks with tape and cultural symbols on your face! Hire a makeup artist (someone who’s done pageant makeup before) trust me, they know what’s best. Makeup is one less thing you’ll have to worry about if you book a professional. It is so hard to do a perfect winged eyeliner when you have to compete for your dream title in less than an hour.

Hire a makeup team!

Hire a makeup team!

What is your favorite moment in pageant history?!

Besides winning Miss Teen Maryland, watching my role model, Mame Adjei “Miss Maryland USA 2015” place top 5 at Miss USA and then runner up at America’s Next Top Model. I look up to her so much.

Photo cred: Mama Adjei, Miss Maryland USA

 

How did you balance being a student, and a beauty queen?

It was such an easy balance for me. I felt like I lived a double life sometimes. During the weekdays I was an everyday student, and on the weekends I was a teen philanthropist.

 

Any words of advice to your successor?

 

All new former queens receive this question, so I just have to ask you; what’s next in your near future?!

More pageants! I guess you can say I'm a pageant hopper. It's what I love to do so why stop?

 

Ardelle looking regal at nationals. her amazing photographer father captured this moment!

I am wishing you all the best Ardelle, congratulations on such a successful reign!


Connect with Ardelle

Twitter: @MissTeenMD   

Instagram: Ardelle Dickerson

Facebook: Ardelle Dickerson

Queens Corner: Miss Black Illinois USA 2016 - Brittanie Brooks

I met Brittanie back in 2015. At the time, we were each modeling in an annual runway show for a reputable Chicagoland prom and pageant dress boutique. She enthusiastically entered the room with such an infectious smile and introduced herself with an ease of grace and confidence. Personally, I'm a huge fan of a genuinely nice girl, as I'm sure that we've all come across some Regina George's in our lifetime.

Upon discovering that she attained her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Broadcast News from EIU and her Master's degree in Pubic Affairs Reporting from UIS, I have dubbed her the Olivia Pope of the pageant world. She keeps her Twitter followers up to date on current political affairs, while making a name for herself as an influencer. Oh, and she does it all in six inch heels! Okay... maybe not in a pair of Tippy Tops, but I bet she could! What can't this girl do?! Therefore, it's no surprise to me that she was selected to represent our home state of Illinois at the national Miss Black USA 2016 pageant this summer!

Thankfully, I scored the chance to get in touch with the busy beauty queen, landing an exclusive interview to learn all about her and her endeavors. Enjoy!

 

BJ: Let's start at the beginning, how long have you been competing in pageants?

BB: I entered my first pageant in 2009 competing for the title of Miss Illinois Teen USA. So my journey began 7 years ago!

 

BJ: What was your motivation to compete in your first pageant?

BB: I have always been drawn into the modeling and acting world.  Therefore, I began taking acting/modeling classes in middle school and walked in a few mall and church fashion shows. I knew that pageantry would open the doors for me to walk on more runways and meet people in the entertainment and modeling industry.

 

BJ: Girl, how does it feel to be the newly crowned Miss Black Illinois USA?!

BB: It’s awesome, I was chosen out of 16 other young women to represent Illinois at the national Miss Black USA competition in August! The reality of being a beauty queen and public figure didn’t really hit until I attended a Vision Board party for girls aged 7-12 years old. One girl was completely shocked when I walked in the door. I was asked if I was a princess and the girls took turns wearing my crown. It really opened my eyes that they’re seeing a black female who was in their shoes and someone they can look up to and that alone is an awesome feeling.

 

 

BJ: You're very involved in the community, what do you hope to accomplish throughout your reign?

BB: My platform is to raise awareness for ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer. In November, I began to raise awareness by opting out of wearing pants and only skirts and dresses using the hashtag #NoPantsForOvarianCancer, I did it for a month until my birthday on December 20th. People were sending me messages of support and praise saying they too were sufferers so I think it was mildly successful.

I’m launching round two of my campaign again in February wearing no pants, even whenever I make appearances in honor of the disease.

Also, after the Vision Board party, I’m more drawn to encourage young girls of color to achieve their dreams and to truly go after what they want. When I was younger I was a complete nerd to the definition and spent a lot of my time reading and in the library. One of my personal goals was to receive my Masters’ Degree like my mother. I saw her studying for it when I was younger and I was able to follow in her footsteps last May, so I want to serve as the Nerd Ambassador and promote education for young women.

 

BJ: Between us, can you share what your talent you will be bringing to the Miss Black USA stage?

BB: Piano – I’ll keep it a mystery as to what song I’m performing but here's a hint: It’s by the King!

 

Its really been trending lately, What does #BlackGirlMagic mean to you?

 

BJ: We all have them, name the pageant essential that you can’t live without!

BB: Eyelashes – I went without them once for a fashion show and now I always keep them with me!

 

BJ: You can only choose one! What is your favorite and go-to beauty product?

BB: Mascara- Currently I coat mine twice with Covergirl’s Lash Blast Volume and Covergirl’s Flamed Out Mascara

 

BJ: As a pageant girl, what is your favorite moment in pageant history?

BB: Miss America publicly apologizing to Vanessa Williams and allowing her to be the head judge back in September was awe inspiring!! I loved it, it really brought her reign to a full circle. Plus to do it in front of millions instead of behind closed doors was perfect! There’s no better way that moment could have been done.

 

BJ: How has pageantry influenced you as a person?

BB: Pageantry gave me poise and a sense of purpose. I love competing and what better way to work on myself than practicing the piano, working out, and looking gorgeous! Pageantry also allowed me to explore myself so I can present my best representation to the judges. The months spent preparing for competition, I always write down my future goals, accomplishments, and reflect on the woman I want to portray to the judges. I didn’t really understand this concept until my last pageant. There’s so much more than walking on stage and I worked with some pretty amazing coaches who allowed me to define Brittanie.

 

BJ: Any words of advice to readers and future competitors?

BB: Be prepared and know yourself! Know who you are and who you want to be. And don’t be scared, nerves are visible on stage so check them backstage.

Connect with Brittanie

Twitter/IG- @BrittanieNikki

Facebook - Miss Black Illinois USA 2016 - Brittanie Nikki

The Miss Black USA Scholarship Organization is a national scholarship competition that celebrates young women of African decent.

 

What I Wish I Knew Before My First Pageant

My first pageant back in 2011!

Before I finally landed my first state pageant title, I was a beginner just like we all are when we pursue new things. After four years of competing I can confidently say that I have not only grown as a person, but also attained an abundance of information and advice for incoming pageant girls! Below you will find, seven things I wish I knew before my first pageant.

1) INVEST IN COACHING

Hey, we all can't be Olivia Culpo, and her story isn't one that occurs often. Pageant coaching isn't a requirement or a prerequisite to compete in your first pageant, however it is a valuable tool to aid in your success. Pageant coaches can assist you with all of the imperative skills needed to land yourself that crown! I walked into my first state pageant without a coach, and won an award for my interview skills. Imagine what else I could have attained if I was coached and trained appropriately.

Your coach should be a person that is easy to communicate with, and one that brings out your best self on stage for the judges. If you come across a coach that isn't invested in you, doesn't offer constructive and helpful criticism, or isn't respected within the pageant community RUN!

I'd LOVE to see MIss Jay as a pageant coach!

I'd LOVE to see MIss Jay as a pageant coach!

2) STUDY WHAT STYLE AND FASHIONS MATCH THE SYSTEM

Every pageant system has their own taste in what they find stylish and queen worthy. Miss USA loves bold and sexy evening gowns, while Miss America finds the sex appeal in being elegant. Taking note of what the reigning queens are wearing in the system you are interested in will help you find your own style within the organization's aesthetic. I wouldn't have looked so "teen" in my first pageant had I researched more on what gowns and wardrobe selections win. But don't worry, I learned my lesson!

3) PACK POWER SNACKS

Yes, many systems will feed their girls during pageant weekend. However, it doesn't hurt to bring some healthy munchies to snack on in order to keep your energy up. I have personally seen girls get so caught up in running an opening number that they forget to go grab lunch! Trust me, after a long day of rehearsals and excitement you'll be glad that you have something to satisfy your hunger if needed. Plus, if you come prepared, your family won't have to bring you any snackage (guilty...thanks for the trail mix mom)!

4) BRING BABY WIPES FOR BUTT GLUE

Yes, butt glue is a pageant essential! It will ensure that the focus stays on you, while ensuring that your swimsuit bottoms do the same. There's nothing like jumping out of your swimsuit before the evening gown competition, and consequently having your evening gown get glued to your butt. Trust me when I say that I've learned this lesson so that it doesn't happen to YOU. Do yourself and that Sherri Hill a favor, and wipe off that butt glue!

5) IT'S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS, NERVOUS, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE

Pageant weekend is a whirlwind. You spend months preparing for this moment only for it to be over as quickly as it came. You will go through so many different emotions (even pageant pros still get nervous) pageant weekend, and it is perfectly valid and normal. Take a deep breath and remember that at the core of pageant weekend is a new experience holding an abundance of fun.

My personal mantra "Feel the fear...and do it anyway!"

6) IF GETTING YOUR MAKE UP DONE PROFESSIONALLY, BE PREPARED FOR TOUCH UPS

Whether your make up artist gives you a small amount of the lipstick he/she used, or you have your own stash with similar colors, ensure that you have a way to do small touch ups throughout your day. Feathering lips and a shiny T-Zone aren't flattering in pictures, so stay prepared!

7) THERE IS A CHANCE THAT YOU WON'T WALK AWAY WITH THE CROWN

You have officially conquered your first pageant! Completing pageant weekend in its own right is a great feat. I think it's important to identify what you consider a loss, win, and a goal accomplishment. Your mindset will determine the severity of how you react to whatever outcome occurs. If your entire goal coming into pageant weekend is to win a sparkling hat, then you have already assumed the wrong attitude. I won't lie, it sucks to lose, and I've experienced that feeling of disappointment before. However I was able to bring myself out of it knowing that I grew as a person, and that I made valuable friends and connections that I wouldn't be able to make elsewhere. Many of the girls that I met during my first pageant are still in contact with me five years later!

I met Chass during my first pageant, we were roomies!

Just please always act as if you are wearing your invisible crown. Even though the pageant is over, you don't want to become infamous for being the sore loser at last year's pageant who didn't walk away in a positive light.


"I'm not going to take your mansion." -Miss Colombia

All of the delegates have returned to their native countries, and the excitement has finally calmed. The Miss Universe 2015 competition will undeniably go down in pageant history! However, at the heart of that history are three individuals who were placed in considerably awkward situations.

After announcing the incorrect winner at the annual international beauty pageant, Steve Harvey has been seeking the opportunity to sit down with Miss Colombia Universe Ardriana Gutierrez in order to sincerely apologize to the South American beauty.

Recently, on his show, Steve finally received his chance to sit down with Ardriana, who expressed that she thought the comedian was attempting to tell a joke Oprah style, "You are Miss Universe... YOU are Miss Universe... EVERYONE IS MISS UNIVEEEERSE!!!!"

It was amazing to see her displaying some lighthearted humor throughout her interview. She even briefly touched on the potential law suits presented to her against Harvey by various lawyers in the same humor. "I'm not going to take your mansion.", she jokes. Thankfully, Ardriana has digested all that has occurred, and believes that her destiny has greater things in store for her future.

Although an unfortunate situation, it is one that sets her up for various opportunities in the future. No one anticipates being the first runner up, and not achieving their dream of winning the crown. But as of right now, Ardriana is the most memorable and infamous first runner up in pageant history! This bombshell isn't going away anytime soon, and we'll be watching every moment of her success.