For the past 22 years, Florida women seeking the Miss Black Florida USA title never got the chance to wow a crowd with their talents, or sashay across a stage in a glittering glamorous gown at a state pageant to compete for the title.
Current Miss Black Florida Asari Maurice, along with all the other previous winners, completed a mail-in entry, and were selected by the national Miss Black USA scholarship pageant organization to represent Florida in the national pageant. For Miss Black Florida USA 2010, however, it will be a different story.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, teenagers between the ages of 14-17 and young women ages 18-27 will seek to awe the judges at the 1st Annual Miss Black Florida USA and Talented Teen scholarship pageant at the Hilton in Daytona Beach.
The difference this time around is that Florida now has its own official branch affiliate to the Miss Black USA pageant, replacing the mail-in entry. The pageant will provide a preliminary competition for contestants in the Miss Black Florida USA title, plus a $2,500 scholarship.
The deadline to enter this year’s pageant was Aug. 31.
Angel Coleman is the executive director of Miss Black Florida USA. The former Miss Homestead USA 2006 has competed and won awards in mainstream local and national beauty pageants since age 17. But, she said, in the beginning, she had no guidance on how to train and compete.
“When I got there I wasn’t even ready for that type of competition, they take it to a whole other level, it’s like a sport,” she said.
Considering the world of pageantry a culture of its own, with so few minorities competing in the first place, she said, she was conscious of the different issues black competitors faced in an industry predominantly occupied by white women.
“We (black women) have legs, hips,’’ she said. “I’m standing up against people with certain body issues they (white women) don’t have.’’
With 10 years plus in pageantry and a degree in fashion design and fashion merchandise, Coleman said she understands the challenges of pageant competitions, and has made her expertise available to all the Miss Black Florida and Talented Teen competitors from across the state.
“I competed in a predominantly white system, and I didn’t have access to a coach because I didn’t know… as far as women of color, you can’t go to every coach because they cannot coach women of color,’’ Coleman said. “I can coach across the board, so they can ask me questions, I always give them my personal opinion, and they’re actually getting a lot of help that doesn’t even happen in the industry.’’
Since promoting the pageant at the beginning of this year, the Miami native has been delightfully surprised at the interest shown by potential contestants.
“Nearly 200 girls have contacted us in a year, from January up until this point, and we’re still getting them in now,” she said.
Competitors have been working hard preparing for the pageant.
“There 5 divisions, interview, fitness attire, evening wear, talent and on stage questioning… You (competitors) need to mentally prepare yourself,” she said.
Twenty-two-year-old Janeta Jackson, the Miss Black Broward contestant for Miss Black Florida and Talented Teen scholarship pageant, said she fully appreciates Coleman’s perspective and advice.
“She’s been very, very helpful thus far,’’ Jackson said. “I know she’s been busy but she takes the time to answer all of your questions… I have natural hair, and it’s really thick, kinky and curly. She showed me pictures of what I could do with my hair, to use as a guideline, and what to do with my makeup for my head shots, enough to see that there’s makeup in the picture but not to heavily because you also want to present that natural glow of yourself.’’
Jackson continued: “You can call her about anything, she’d done the pageants before and she wants to make sure we’re all comfortable!”
Coleman said it is very important to her that contestants be comfortable in their own skin.
“That’s the good thing about this system, is that you don’t have to be concerned with being something you’re not, and I stress that to a lot of girls because we even have girls that have even competed in the white same system, and I tell them listen, I’m not looking for a ‘white’ black girl,” she said.
She continued: “That is definitely one of the perks of competing in this system as a woman of color, because we are not looking for that cookie cutter girl, we are looking for an articulate, beautiful young woman!”
Jackson, a music instructor, said she hopes that winning the competition and scholarship will give her an opportunity to attend graduate school, and even propel her dreams of opening a performing arts center for youth.
Aside from serving her community and her personal goals, she said she feels privileged to be a part of a pageant honoring beautiful women of color.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Miss Black Florida USA and Talent Teen scholarship pageant
WHEN: Nov. 7, 2009, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
WHERE: Hilton Daytona Beach, 100 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach
COST: $25 per person
CONTACT: Ms. Coleman at 786-205-0228 or firstname.lastname@example.org