If you are ever on a college campus where the Divine Nine is represented, an extension of the Miss Black and Gold Pageant won’t be hard to find. A national pageant system created by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.,the Miss Black and Gold Pageant is uniquely designed to showcase the scholarship, talent, and beauty of undergraduate women. It has been so successful in this mission that many women have launched mainstream pageant careers from their foundation in the Miss Black and Gold system.

Ariel Fuller happens to be one of them. After being a titleholder, coordinator, and pageant mother (coach) for the Miss Black and Gold Pageant at the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign, Ariel found herself prepared to branch out to more opportunities. By the fall of 2012, Ariel had evolved from a coach to Miss Black Chicago Southland and first runner- up for Miss Black Illinois USA 2013. This week “5 Questions” finds out how her foundation became her springboard.

1) Congratulations on winning first runner-up at Miss Black Illinois USA 2013. How did the Miss  Black and Gold system prepare you for pageants after undergrad?

Thank you! Winning first runner-up was truly a blessing and I am excited for the opportunities I will be embarking upon. I began pageantry in the Miss Black and Gold system for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. when I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I was lucky to have excellent training from my pageant mother with walking, questions, and introductory speech. I won runner up as Ms. Gold 2009 and became my chapter pageant coordinator for two years, Illinois District Choreographer in 2011, and the Illinois District Coordinator in 2012.

With that being said, my pageant experience in turn includes training many young women in their preparation. I constantly learned from them and their unique experiences, and thus I was well prepared to compete at Miss Black Illinois USA. I wasn’t afraid to be proud of who I am.

2) What sparked your interest in pageants and what is your preparation routine when competing?

When I did the Miss Black and Gold system in college, my objective was to show my uniqueness, as I was one African-American girl amongst thousands of other women on my campus. I asked myself, “How can I make my mark and be heard?”Getting into my first pageant did just that! I was able to introduce my talents, my personality, and upholding a positive light as a woman standing true to who I am.

There was also a greater cause that motivated me to get involved with pageants. I was able to implement my organization, Dunamis Woman Empowerment, and encourage young women to seek whole prosperity mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By implementing my platform, I remained grounded by living a life of transparency. I was able to show my girls the real me, sharing my life mistakes and accomplishments.

To prepare, I remained motivated by exercising and practicing my talent diligently. I knew in order to obtain the crown I had to put in work with no excuses and not wait to the last minute to put together my wardrobe and attire. I wanted no stress before the pageant, so I took care of my skin and health with daily vitamins to avoid getting sick.

3)What was the best piece of advice someone ever gave you, and what advice do you have for any girls getting into pageantry?

“Delay is not denial.”  I use this saying in all aspects of my life. Everything works in timing, so a girl in pageantry may not receive the winning title the first time around, but that doesn’t mean she should give up in pageants as a whole. She should not let fear, self- doubt, or jealousy rest in her heart. Instead, she must keep moving forward while being the great woman she is destined to be. I encourage girls to stay confident in who they are, because when they do receive what they want in life (whether it’s to be a queen, doctor, lawyer, mother, etc.), they will be the epitome its requirements.

4) With the holiday season upon us, what is your go-to beauty secret?

My go- to beauty secret right now is facial masks! I wash my face and moisturize twice a day relentlessly, but I have just started applying a mask once a week and it has done wonders with keeping my face glowing, tackling any imperfections, and relieving oil from my skin.

5) What do you think the recent presidential election says about the future of this country?

I believe the recent presidential election shows that our country can not only come together and move forward, but can also give our leaders a second chance. Change doesn’t happen overnight. The election also opened up my eyes that our future is not set in stone, and I can either ignore my responsibilities or control my own fate. I choose the latter. I have the capability to control my finances, family legacy, and future if I trust solely in God because He has the final say so in my destiny. Our journey should be in God. He is the one who has the country’s future in His hands, not solely our president.

Quick Facts!

  • Name: Ariel Fuller
  • Age: 23
  • Hometown: Glenwood, IL
  • Education: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Bachelors of Liberal Arts & Science in Communication)

Imani Josey

Imani is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. After graduating Howard University in Washington, DC, Imani received her Masters from Northwestern University. Sometime during all of that studying, she danced professionally for the Chicago Bulls as a (Luvabulls) cheerleader, and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Read her short story “North” in the forthcoming Hidden Youth anthology, out November 2016 by Crossed Genres.

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