University of Illinois Springfield graduate Kayla Ross traveled back to central Illinois as the new 2019 Miss Black Illinois.
Ross’ watched pageants since she was little and she wanted to participate.
“I've always liked watching them on TV, so I thought if they can do it, why can't I do it? And i went for it,” said Ross.
Ross has a list of things to accomplish before nationals.
“It’s one show, it’s nationals, and I have to get all my outfits ready. I have to get my talent together, I have to practice walking, I have to practice interviews,” said Ross.
Ross explains the hardest part of doing pageants is the interview section
“I would say the hardest thing is maybe question and answer, you never know what you’re going to get or what question they’re going to ask. You just have to be on your toes, quick and responsive, and just make sure you’re answering the question too,” said Ross.
Ross likes pageants because they force her out of her shell.
“I just like stepping out of comfort zone, you know, this is only my third pageant. And I like doing something that definitely challenges me, and this is a challenge,” said Ross.
Ross explains just how important the pageants are and the importance and meaning behind them.
“I would say it's important because there are not enough pageants where black women are represented in the main-stream media where we can be exactly ourselves, we don’t have to look a certain way. In this pageant we can be all different shapes, colors, and sizes. Our hair does not have to be straight, it can be the natural afro. So really, that’s what I like most about this pageant. We get to be ourselves and there is no swimsuit, so that’s really important with self esteem,” said Ross.
She hopes that she can bring national attention to problems closer to home.
“The issue for me is just my community, it is mostly known for how bad Chicago is. It would be better if people gave back and invested more time in their community. With my title, that is part of my platform, which is giving back through volunteering. Whether it is giving money, time, or just what you can do to help. That’s what I'm advocating for,” said Ross.
Miss Black USA is held in August in Washington D.C.