Miss Black Will County transformed by pageant
BY FRANK VAISVILAS Correspondent October 6, 2013 9:11PM
Corey Sallie of Joliet is competing for the Miss Black Illinois title. | Photo courtesy of Billy Montgomery.
If you go ...
What: Miss Black Illinois Scholarship Pageant 2014
When: 4 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. King Drive, Chicago
Cost: $25 or $100 VIP
Updated: November 8, 2013 6:27AM
For Corey Sallie, of Joliet, the journey to competing for the Miss Black Illinois title is doing what the pageant intended.
More than just being a beauty pageant, Sallie said, the competition is helping to improve her self-esteem.
“At one point in my life, I was very insecure,” Sallie, 20, said. “This pageant is helping me become a better person by taking a chance. I’m learning a lot about myself and about responsibility.”
Sallie was selected as Miss Black Will County after filling out an application and being interviewed by Tina DeNard, the executive director for the Illinois and Indiana chapter of the Miss Black USA organization.
A major part of the interview is the applicant’s platform, which has to be something they feel passionately about. Sallie chose epilepsy awareness and research.
Growing up, Sallie watched her mother suffer from epilepsy. She saw the treatment that had to be given and the seizures. And she watched her mother’s mind deteriorate after the damage done by epilepsy. Sallie said her mother was once a computer whiz but is now unable to even use the equipment.
“Part of epilepsy is losing memory,” Sallie said. “It’s personal to me. I want her to see me be successful.”
That drive is what the pageant’s about.
“Miss Black USA is a community-driven organization,” DeNard said. “It’s not a beauty pageant. We focus on community service.”
She said the pageant helps empower women of color and they can be of any minority, such as Indian-American or Mexican-American, not only black.
Prizes include $3,000 to $5,000 in scholarship awards for Miss Black Illinois with those prizes doubling for Miss Black USA. Contestants also get private donations from sponsors, such as make-up or even a car, DeNard said.
Sallie will compete for the title of Miss Black Illinois 2014 later this month against 20 other contestants in Chicago.
She’ll be performing her dance routine as part of the talent portion of the contest. If Sallie wins, she’ll go on to compete for the title of Miss Black USA next year.
Sallie said she doesn’t see her competition as rivals, especially after going through “boot camp” training together.
“It’s like a sisterhood,” Sallie said. “We’ll stay friends after the competition.”
Sallie is taking online classes at the Academy of Art University, studying fashion design. But she said she plans to transfer to the Harrington College of Design to study interior design.