For the past two decades, the Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant has had one sustaining goal: To provide educational opportunity to young women of color and develop the whole woman—mind, body, and spirit. Has the pageant succeeded? The answer is a resounding yes! The best way to tell that story is through the success of the delegates themselves. Here are just a few of the hundreds of former Miss Black USA delegates and winners who have achieved their dreams and given back to the world.
Ayesha K. Faines - Ayesha is a graduate of Yale University where she received degrees in both Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and African Studies. She speaks Spanish and Arabic. The former "Miss Black Connecticut 2007 is an accomplished pianist and a classically trained ballerina. She studied with the New Jersey Ballet and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. As a teen, she performed professional roles with New Jersey Ballet's Junior Company. Ayesha always dreamed of being a journalist, and recently made her home in Jacksonville, Florida where she works as a Traffic and General Assignment Reporter for a local CBS affiliate.
Deya Smith-Starks - Known for her passion, knowledge, and charisma, this 1994 Miss Black USA was Ebony magazine’s 2001 choice as a Future Leader. Smith-Starks can be heard twice a day as the co-host of the nationally syndicated On the Phone with Ti-Rone. Most recently you may have seen her featured as the HIV/AIDS expert on the Tyra Banks Show or read her work as a contributing writer in the highly acclaimed book Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-American Community.
A powerful motivational speaker, she has been featured on the national Tampax Total You Tour and the Patene Total You Tour, both of which promote sisterhood. Smith-Starks received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Howard University, majoring in theater arts with a concentration in film and state and a minor in communications. She is currently the Senior Producer for the "Tom Joyner Morning Show".
Kemba Cofield - Shades of Kemba is the new CD just released by former .Miss Black Kentucky Kemba Cofield. Growing up in Frankfort, KY, she sang in talent shows, beauty pageants, musicals and church. After seeing Sarah Vaughan perform at the age of 9, she developed a love for jazz and began to sing it. Jazz band in high schools and college served as her training ground, but it wasn't until she moved to Atlanta, Georgia that her real opportunity came.
Former Freddy Cole drummer, Bernard Linnette, heard Kemba sing during the Tuesday night jam session at a local jazz club and was impressed by her voice. Kemba soon began gigging with his sextet and Linnette became her mentor. She taught chorus and piano lessons to high school students during the day, absorbing jazz during the night, and while working on her Masters in Music Education on summer breaks. The hard work is proven on her forthcoming album, Shadesof Kemba.
Dawn Moss - A vocalist, actress, motivational speaker and international producer, Dawn Moss is currently a representative for NEX Millionaires. She is also a writer and marketing representative for da Book Magazine, a new national hair and beauty publication. The Camden, New Jersey native is the former producer of CNN 1010 program Going Global and the co-host/executive producer for the Baltimore ABC affiliate show See America. Moss was crowned Miss Black USA 1996 and recently served as the Executive Producer of the 2007 Miss Black USA Pageant held in the Gambia, West Africa. Dawn is the Executive Producer of the 2008 and 2009 national pageants.
Kia Talein Anderson-DeJan - Kia has been taking care of business since she won the title of Miss Black Maryland USA 1993. Kia was first runner-up in the Miss Black USA Pageant. Following that competition, she was signed as the female vocalist with national R&B recording artist Atlantic Starr. She has since opened her own recording studio, released a gospel CD, and ministered in gospel stage plays. Kia credits the Miss Black USA Pageant with helping to transform her life and feels especially proud to inspire other young women, and help them realize their dreams. This Washingtonian native is on a spiritual crusade. This Angelic Song Bird is soaring to new heights with her Debut CD, “Don’t Turn Your Back on God.”
Valorie Burton - A former Miss Black Texas USA, Valorie is the author of Listen to Your Life, What’s Really Holding You Back?, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, and Why Not You? 25 Days to Authentic Confidence published by divisions of Random House, Inc. Her latest book is How Did I Get So Busy?. A professional certified coach (PCC), she coaches entrepreneurs and professionals seeking a more purposeful path. Her weekly e-newsletter inspires thousands of subscribers. Burton is a frequent media contributor and has engaged in hundreds of interviews. She is the resident life coach for the syndicated radio program, Sharing Life Together. In addition, she is a regular columnist for CBN.com, the Chicago Defender, Heart & Soul and BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Lynnette Danley-Land, Ph.D. - Originally from inner-city Chicago, Dr. Danley-Land has overcome the challenges of impoverished neighborhoods, domestic violence, and limitations placed on students who are Black, first generation, and low income. She earned her B.A. in African American studies and English literature at Western Illinois University, then completed her Master of Science in Education degree at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was crowned Miss Black Iowa in 1995. She has since earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies, graduating with honors. Currently, Dr. Danley-Land is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership & Policy Department and Ethnic Studies Program at the University of Utah.
Ezina Moore -"Miss Black USA" 1989 just released her "Power of A Woman" CD. Ezina, not to be out done by the boys in the band, she wields a left-handed Paul Reed Smith custom 22 guitar. No girlie folk singer here -- Just a rockin’ sista from the hood paying homage to Jimi Hendrix, Patti Labelle, Prince and Rick James. Where did this force of life come from? This woman is a descendent from Cherokee and Creole stock - which means movie directors have no idea what to do with her. Ezina Moore has also been known as Leslie Elizabeth Waddell; and in that guise became Miss Black USA.
Musically, she is the daughter of the belated resurgence of Funk Rock, which migrated to her in Michigan on the down-low through cousins in Chicago. Until then, Detroit radio dictated her musical taste and fed her with Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and her uncle, Bobby Womack. To check out the "Power of a Woman" click here.
Janell Inez Smith - Since being crowned Miss Black Maryland 1993, this professional model and actress has toured Europe as female and lead vocalist with the group Shalamar. She has performed in the national stage musical Talk Show Life, appeared in UPN’s hit show Hald and Half, and played a supporting role in her first feature film with Vivica A. Fox and Bill Bellamy. Janell also has appeared in numerous national television commercials including McDonalds, Chevy, AT&T and many others. She has also guest-starred on CSI: Miami, Less than perfect, DAG, and other television programs. She resides in Los Angeles where she and her husband are raising their two sons and newborn daughter.
Tanisha Laverne Grant - A former Miss Black Pennsylvania and Miss Cheyney State University is a successful actor, writer and motivational speaker. This vivacious talent holds B.A. degree in Communications and Theatre Arts from Cheyney University and studied acting under the direction of Dr. Edythe Scott-Bagley, sister of the late Corretta Scott King. Tanesha was cast in several film and television productions including For Your Love, by which she became eligible to join the prestigious SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, Providence, Bette, Grown-Ups, Malcolm in the Middle, and the film Ride or Die which starred Vivica A. Fox and Duane Martin. Tanisha has recently become a New York based actress and is excited to work with such notable theaters as the AMERICAN THEATER OF HARLEM, THE NEW FEDERAL THEATER, and the NEGRO ENSEMBLE COMPANY.