Kendra Lewis, a native of Clinton MS, made history in February 2013 as the first Black Miss Clinton which made her eligible to compete in the Miss Mississippi Pageant.
We recently had the chance to talk with Ms. Lewis about being the first Black Miss Clinton, how she first began entering beauty pageants, and the future of African-Americans in pageantry.
Here’s our conversation…
Adrienne: What did you like most about being the first Black Miss Clinton?
Kendra: I think the thing I like most about being the first Black Miss Clinton was being a trend setter and pioneer and also being a leader or advocate for other African-American young ladies to come in behind me.
Adrienne: What influenced you to go after this particular pageant?
Kendra: I honestly wasn’t even trying. I was in the beauty and bold pageant in high school but I didn’t win. But the executive director of the Miss Clinton Pageant was there and after it was over she came to me and asked me to participate in the Miss Clinton Pageant under her. She said “I feel like you would be a great candidate and I feel like you would win”.
I thought to myself okay I thought she was being sweet and trying to tell me I did really good and she felt like I should have won but I said to myself, why not I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. So I tried it out and I ended up winning Miss Clinton and also becoming the first black Miss Clinton. I didn’t even know it was a preliminary to Miss Mississippi 2013. You know she told me “you won the crown now you have four months of extensive training to get ready for Miss Mississippi”, and I’m thinking oh wow but it was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Adrienne: How did this experience shape you as a person?
Kendra: Miss Mississippi and the whole Miss Clinton pageant experience really was an eye opener. It helped me kind of come into what exactly I wanted to do. I want to start Mississippi’s first charm school so it kind of gave me the name to go behind my platform. I want to open up Mississippi’s first charm school in Clinton so with me being a Clinton-lebrity I guess (laughs), it kind of helps me kind of develop and brand myself so I can market myself in Clinton and all over Mississippi.
Adrienne: Do you think it is inevitable for another African-American to become the next Miss Clinton?
Kendra: Oh yes, it has to happen again. I’ve already passed the crown off to a young lady outside of Clinton, MS. This was the first time we used girls outside of Clinton because we didn’t have enough girls to enter but one of the things that I said I would implement as the first African-American Miss Clinton would be opening up the doors of the pageant to get more African American women involved so that way the legacy will continue. I predict in the next two years there would be another black Miss Clinton.