The Miss Black Ardmore Pageant is a longstanding tradition in Ardmore, but for its young contestants it presents a chance for them to show off their talents and plan for the future.
This marks the annual pageant’s 39th year. Contestants will perform a group dance, deliver speeches, perform their individual talents and model formal evening wear for a chance to win a scholarship. This year, all but one contestant is a returning competitor.
Trista Renae Wilkerson, a sophomore at Ardmore High School has been participating in the pageant since she was in eighth grade. She said the younger competitors are there primarily to learn the ropes of the pageant so they can compete as high schoolers.
“I first started doing this to stay out of trouble,” Wilkerson said. “It took me a long way, from getting suspended all the time to having a job, keeping my grades up and planning to go to college.”
Wilkerson said for her, the pageant is equal parts nerve-racking and fun.
“I would say my favorite part is the evening wear,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t get to dress up like that very often, and it’s fun to do something different.”
For her talent, she’ll perform “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri on her violin, an instrument she’s been studying since she was 11.
Quindazia Douglas, a senior at AHS, said because most of the girls have competed together before, there is a sense of camaraderie and familiarity among contestants.
“This time, I plan on doing things a little bit differently,” Douglas said. “For my talent I’m still going to be acting, but I’m going to be stronger with it.”
Jordan Credle, a junior, is a first-time Miss Black Ardmore contestant. She said she initially decided to compete to earn the scholarship prize, but she hopes to get something more out of the competition process.
“I wanted to make my confidence grow stronger,” Credle said. “I’m hoping to have better confidence in myself, believe in myself more, be louder.”
She said for her talent, she’ll perform a praise dance set to a Maya Angelou poem.
“We’re all talented in different ways,” Credle said.
Elexis Rogers, a junior at AHS, has been participating for three years. She said the experience has helped her grow.
“I learned to have more confidence,” Rogers said. “Through sophomore year, I feel like (Miss Black Ardmore) brought me up, now in junior year I feel like I have all the skills and information I need to win.”
For her talent, she’ll sing “I’ll Always Remember Us This Way” from the A Star Is Born soundtrack.
“I’ve known them for a while,” Rogers said. “They know what I’m going to bring.”
Contestants will participate in an interview portion the day before the pageant. Rogers said the interview is considered one of the more important categories, and nailing it means a contestant is likely to take the crown.
“In regular pageants, they do the interview on stage, but (organizer Mary Johnson) said that’s too much pressure on us,” Rogers said. “They ask us why we joined, they ask us what we would do in our community if we win. It’s questions like that.”