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In 2019, I was encouraged to compete for the inaugural Miss Heritage’s Outstanding Teen competition (which at the time was a new preliminary pageant created to bring diversity to the Miss Arkansas and Miss America pageant system). Without having any pageant experience, I gave it a try. I competed doing original spoken word poetry while playing the ukulele. As an nontraditional contestant, not only did I do unconventional talent, I also had a different natural hairstyle everyday on on-stage competitions despite being told it wasn’t “pageant hair.” I stayed authentic to myself and my black girl magic and I won! I will forever be the first Miss Heritage’s Outstanding Teen. This qualified me to compete in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen competition, where I was the only Black girl out of 39 contestants. I won every day of the competition for my category and brought home trophies for overall best interview, best talent, evening gown, and fitness. I did it for the culture and truly represented well by placing 3rd runner up. I’m grateful for the experience and the impact I made!

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