On Tuesday, Mardis and I got the keys to our first home! Wednesday morning, we found our truck vandalized. Friday, I found out that a mentee had been raped and killed. Saturday morning, I got an email stating that I did not get the job that I thought would be my ticket out of Baltimore City Public Schools. My week started out wonderful and became sour. However, it ended just as wonderful because I won the title of Mrs. Essence 2013! (Lesson: Keep the Faith!)
On Friday, I arrived at the luncheon with Blessing, my bag, and my afro. They say first impressions are important and I wanted everyone to know that I do it BIG, lol. Anyways, we got to hear from each of the national queens about their experiences during their year. I was too nervous to eat… as a matter of fact, I paid to eat all weekend, but did not. Those butterflies were killing me! I met Su, the pageant director, for the first time in person. She is such a natural beauty—flawless skin, curly hair, bright smile. I was impressed. She shared that she would be giving awards throughout the weekend and began during this luncheon. I was not sure what type of awards she would give that early in the pageant weekend, but it made sense: She was making sure everyone felt appreciated for the effort they put into the Essence pageant system. I received a media award and got a pin for my sash!
Afterwards we began Boot Camp. Although I have participated in a number of pageants, I still find it necessary to make improvements and learn about new systems. During this boot camp, hosted by the 2012 national queens and Essence Pageant Staff, I learned that there are 7 values that the system wants their queens to embody. I had no idea about this prior to the boot camp and found this very valuable. After doing my research, I believed that I embodied these qualities and wanted to ensure that the judges knew that.
Next we began Orientation. After checking in, each of us received gift bags filled with little things that queens love! (How sweet!) All of the contestants arrived and everyone looked beautiful and refreshed. We heard tips from the 2012 national queens and more awards were distributed. This time I received a business award for my ad pages in the program book.
I have always hated rehearsals in pageantry, primarily because I cannot dance. However, this dance that we learned to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines was simple enough for me to show off just a tad—if you consider clapping with your hands over your head instead of in front of you showing off, lol. The real dancing was displayed at the mixer we participated in that evening. I killed the Wobble and other popular line dances. I just sit down when it is time to free style because I stopped learning new dances after the Harlem Shake era, lol.
Most find it very difficult to sleep on the night before a pageant. I slept fine until 3:00 a.m. I don’t want to get all spiritual on you, but what I am getting ready to share is the absolute truth. I have been reading this book, over and over for the past few months called Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. This book has changed the life of both my husband and I. It has caused us to pray more and have more faith in our everyday experiences. Batterson explains the importance of having faith when we pray. Meaning if we are going to pray to God asking for a miracle, shouldn't we have faith that God will do it? We shouldn't be doubtful of God's ability to answer our prayers just because He may not answer them the way we expected. Batterson even suggests "drawing a circle" around the things we are praying for. For example, Batterson is a church planter and when his church was trying to figure out where God wanted them to plant their next church, Batterson took a prayer walk around the perimeter of the area they were looking at. He prayed through a 4 mile circle, asking God to show Him where to plant their church. And God provided an answer to Him.
When I could no longer sleep at 3:00 a.m. I got up and began to rehearse my speech and walking patterns inside my hotel room. About 10 minutes later, I told myself that I was trying to win of my own merit and decided to pray about the pageant instead. Encouraged by the book, I went down to the ballroom where the stage was and circled it in prayer at least 7 times. My prayer was not that I win, but that God’s will be done and that I would be at peace with the outcome. Once I finished walking around the stage and praying that no one would find me doing so (lol), I went back to my room and slept peacefully until 7 a.m.
Saturday morning, we participated in a breakfast that included a gift exchange. I like the way Su set the gift exchange up. You didn’t just hand the other contestants their gift, but you explained the meaning of the gift to everyone in the room and formally gave the gift. It was cool to see what everyone got ranging from everyday use items to fish, real fish, swimming around in a bowl… During this time, Su gave out more awards to contestants and the national queens.
When it was time to get ready for interview, I was greeted by Roshe’ Anthony of Roshe’ Cosmetics, who did a wonderful job on my face! She came all the way from Baltimore to Virginia just to treat my face so gingerly and her hands smelled great! LOL! Also, some pageant pals stopped by to visit and offer encouragement… and steal my clothes, lol.
I was a little nervous before interview began, but I knew I had already done all that I knew how to do to prepare for it. I just took a deep breath, walked in and answered the questions to the best of my ability.
Now, I guess I am pretty funny because people laugh at me all of the time, even when I am dead serious, lol. I guess that is why I was chosen as the recipient of the Best Humor award at the final rehearsal before show time. I felt more relaxed after making the judges laugh, twice, lol. They also seemed very interested in what I had to say, so my fear left shortly after I introduced myself. This was by far the BEST interview I have ever had in pageantry! I walked out feeling very confident and calm.
I was elated to see Mardis, my husband, Candace and Naomi, my sister and niece, Mothyna and Monokia, the founders of Heal a Woman to Heal a Nation, Inc. and others in the audience supporting me during the pageant. This was the most support I have had since beginning pageantry in 2008. It was such a great feeling and I believe it caused me to stand just a little taller… ;) We competed on stage in fitness wear, evening gown and on stage interview. Not too difficult, right?
When it was time for awards and crowning, I was overwhelmed. I won every award in the Mrs. Division, including fitness, interview and evening gown! It was such an honor and unexpected, lol. I knew when they presented me with the third award that I had won the pageant. However, I contained my excitement out of respect for my sister queens.
It was such an honor to represent Maryland. I felt those little purple and teal butterflies fluttering softly inside my belly (purple and teal are the ribbon colors of sexual assault and domestic violence awareness, two causes that I am an advocate for). Then, I felt a calming and sense of accomplishment. Anyways, after they tried for minutes to put the crown on my head correctly, my next thought was: Quisha, why would you wear a big bun on the side of your head?? LOL…
I have already learned and experienced so much in the Essence Pageant System. Su, Kevin and the staff truly care about each individual who signs up for the pageant. They also take great care of the queens afterwards—and I know this after only 2 days! I loved my prizes and I was even more encouraged to retrieve my score sheets. I earned 14 10s out of 23 sheets! I don’t think I have ever done so well in a pageant before. Afterwards, judges offered me encouragement. One judge said after researching the contestants online she could not wait to meet me. Another judge shared that as soon as I walked in the room for interview she knew I was the winner… WOW. She made my night! The saying is true: You can win over the judges in interview! ;)
If you are reading this and are discouraged from past pageantry experiences, I strongly recommend this system! “Su Valuable” (Su is not only our director, but the word su means “Its” in Spanish) is going to be my tagline this year. After spending almost an hour with Su on the phone, I realized just how valuable her expertise and this overall experience will be for me.
This pageant had 21 contestants, 21 queens, 21 winners. Yes, only one person was “crowned” in each division, but I am telling you if you met the people I met, you would know why it is so hard not see how brightly each individual shines. I pray for each person I met, will meet and hope to meet. God has been good to me and I am ready to do this work!
Now, if only Naomi would give me my crown back... ;)