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.