Ever wonder what it takes to wear the ultimate crown of a pageant queen? For Keke Cowart Drayton, the newly crowned Miss East Coast North America Heritage, pageantry isn’t just about looking like a diva and taking photos everywhere she goes. Drayton has found the power in pageantry — being able to inspire and educate the youth of her generation. In this quick interview with BAUCE, Keke sheds some light on what it takes to get into a pageant and why all competitions are not glitz and glam.
BAUCE: How long have you been doing pageants? What motivated you to start doing them?
Keke: I have been competing in pageants for about 4 years. I think that watching pageants and seeing the influence that the young women who compete have over their generation was my biggest influence to compete. We have so much power and influence as title holders, especially over the youth. I wanted to use that influence to bring attention to causes that may be ignored or not getting main stream attention. Some of the causes I support but definitely not limited to are HIV/AIDS awareness, Stomp out Bullying and Stop Criminal Domestic Violence.
BAUCE: Do you feel that pageants promote a certain or negative stereotype about beauty in the world? Why or why not?
Keke: I think all activities including pageantry have certain stereotypes that follow their purpose. We have stereotypes of being pretty girls who walk around in sashes and crowns and take pictures all the time. I think that is only a small part of what we do. Especially myself. I would be lying if I said pageantry doesn’t come with any negative stereotypes but I am a firm believer in not living up to what people categorize you to be. It is up to me as Miss East Coast to prove the negative stereo types wrong and that’s what I do during every appearance, event and my everyday life. .
BAUCE: What are the advantages to pageants? What are the disadvantages?
Keke: My favorite advantage of being a title holder is networking. You meet so many people and some influence you while you influence others but there is no limit to the possibilities when you are just out meeting people. A few of the other advantages are meeting other girls with similar interests, and learning confidence in who you are. Learning to be comfortable with what you represent as an individual. The biggest disadvantage to me is people having unrealistic expectations of you. I think that sometimes being a title holder people forget we are still human just like them. It puts us on an unrealistic pedestal.
BAUCE: What would be your advice to someone who is seeking to enter a pageant? How should they prepare?
Keke: My advice to someone seeking pageantry would be research the pageant system before you get involved. Not all systems are positive and not all systems have your best interest at heart. I would say the best preparation for joining a pageant is just being knowledgeable and knowing what it is you will represent by agreeing to a partnership with that specific organization. The best preparation for competing is just to practice. Practice everything from your walk, to your talk to knowing information about your platform.
BAUCE: What are your goals after your title term is up?
Keke: I hope that I’ve made a difference honestly. I want to be someone who is looked up to for the right reasons. Someone who parents will be proud to say I am their child’s role model. In a generation that drowns out most positive things with reality TV and Drama, it is hard to grasp an audience if you’re not participating in those events. I hope that I have gained a fan base so that I can continue doing what I love being a motivational speaker. I love to encourage people and lastly I really would love to give modeling a try.