Sure, Bradley did what most pageant contestants do. She prepared for her interview questions, practiced her talent, carefully selected her gown and made arrangements to ensure that her hair and make-up would be impeccable.
But the most important item Bradley checked off on her to-do list was to pray. More than that, she believed.
Bradley made history as the first winner of the annual Miss Black Florida USA and Talented Teen scholarship pageant. Prior to the 2010 competition, Florida contestants pursuing the Miss Black Florida USA crown did not have a state pageant, but competed via mail-in entries.
For Bradley, being physically and spiritually fit has always been important to her beauty regime.
The daughter of a U.S. Marine, Bradley and her family moved frequently when she was a child.
“I’m thankful to have had an interesting life. My family is extremely close; I didn’t have childhood best friends,” she says. “Moving around a lot forces you to be outgoing.”
Bradley followed her mother’s footsteps into pageantry when she was in the ninth grade. After high school, Bradley moved from Fort Pierce, Fla., to Tampa, Fla., to study education at the University of South Florida. Following graduation, Bradley taught inner city fourth and sixth graders for three years.
Through it all, Bradley competed in more than 20 pageants and won at least 10 titles. The Miss Black Florida pageant afforded Bradley an opportunity to represent Black women, she says.
To participate, contestants submitted an application packet including transcripts. The night before the big day, a panel of judges interviewed Bradley and other contestants. The day of the competition, Bradley participated in an opening performance, modeled both fitness attire and evening wear, and sang for the talent portion.
For their final test, the contestants had to answer an onstage question selected by the 2009 Miss Black Florida, Asari Maurice. Bradley had to describe one wish.
“I answered that my wish would be that my mother would be free from pain and free from medications,” Bradley says.
During the awards ceremony, Bradley was awarded the best talent, best interview and best evening wear honors.
“When it was time for the runner up to be announced I kept thinking, ‘Please don’t call my name.’ After the runner up was announced, I quickly switched to ‘Please call my name,’” Bradley laughs.
The prayers worked, and Bradley was crowned as 2010 Miss Black Florida.
“I was stunned for about 2.5 seconds, and then I realized that this was what I asked of God — this is what I prayed for,” Bradley says. “I knew that I was going to win the Miss Black Florida pageant because I prayed for it. I knew that it signified the beginning of a new life for me. I’m very, very thankful.”
The goal-focused beauty queen’s platform focuses on educating people and inspiring them to think without limit.
“When you win a pageant, you become a glamorous servant by participating in numerous community service projects,” Bradley says.
Bradley’s numerous appearances include speaking engagements, participating in food drives and serving as a judge in talent shows.
Bradley used her pageant photos to launch a new acting and modeling career. In addition, she combined her passion for education with her addiction to fitness to launch a personal training business, Fit to a T.
Bradley plans to one day fund after-school programs in Hillsborough County, and offer Fit to a T image workshops for women. Her motivation to improve the way that women feel about themselves stems from Bradley’s own battle with bulimia.
“Today, my mission is to encourage people to be healthy, and at the same time realize that they are perfect being themselves,” Bradley says.
Long term, Bradley would like to become a cover girl, star in a sitcom and model for Nike. Far-fetched? Not to Bradley.
“I live by Psalms 139:14, ‘I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,’” Bradley says solemnly. “My mantra is, ‘Live a life where logic is irrelevant, limits don’t exist and faith is a staple.”
What Job Seekers Can Learn From a Beauty Queen
With the history-making unemployment rate, job seekers are poring over career blogs and resume how-to books more than ever. In some ways, the job market is like a pageant. You have to beat out stiff competition. You have to find the best way to answer interview questions, need knock-out talent and have to dress the part. Miss Black Florida 2010 Tamara Bradley says that pageants have taught her communication skills that benefit her career-wise.
“I have never participated in a job interview and not gotten the job because of what I learned in pageantry,” Bradley says. Check out Bradley’s secrets to help you win your new title.
- Be persistent. You don’t always win the crown the first time you try. It took me several years to win my first title.
- Reach out of your comfort zone.
- Stay positive. Even if you fail, never lose hope.
- Learn from each interview, and don’t succumb to self-destructive negative thinking.
Visit http://www.missblackfloridausa.org/ to learn about the Miss Black Florida pageant and http://www.tamaradiahann.com/ to learn more about Bradley.