• 27°

The National Stage

Selma native Demanda Smith was crowned Miss Black Alabama this year, and now heads to Washington, D.C. to compete in Miss Black USA in August.

Smith is a Selma High School graduate, and is available to be a speaker and participate in events around the town and county before she heads to Miss Black USA’s pageant.

Miss Black USA is the largest and oldest scholarship pageant for Black women in America. Eight percent of its state and national titleholders are in graduate or professional school. The pageant has a global reach extending beyond the U.S. to Africa and has a library at a local primary school in West Africa named in its honor.

Smith’s platform is called Divine Destiny.

“Divine Destiny was created to help others dig deep within themselves to discover hidden talents, build confidence, boost self-esteem, but most importantly challenge others to reach their full potential by living in your purpose,” she said. “I was able to find connections with lost individuals by promoting the three P’s of life: passion, patience and perseverance. I look forward to my year of service spreading purpose and discovering our divine destiny.”

From there, Smith has been able to make her appearances in numerous local and statewide events.

“I was able to be in the Selma Christmas Parade this year, and then I have the Bridge Crossing Jubilee coming up, and a lot of things in Mobile coming up as well,” she said. “We are also doing some volunteer clean-up for Martin Luther King Day, which is a nationwide clean up event. That’s just a few volunteer things I have been part of since I was crowned for Alabama.”

Smith started out in Orrville.

Her mother is from Orrville and graduated from Keith High School. She is now employed at Wallace Community College-Selma. Her father is a Selma High School graduate and is employed at International Paper. Smith has one brother, 9, who is a student at Clark Elementary.

“I went to Salem Elementary, and then I moved to Selma in 2003 and started going to Byrd,” Smith said. “I attended Selma City High School and graduated in 2012.”

While in high school, Smith was involved in extracurricular activities and was a leader in her class.

“I was involved in Selma High School’s choir, I was part of the football angels for Selma football and I took dance classes,” she said. “I also was a class officer and an officer of the Student Government Association (SGA).”

During all of this, Smith was still avidly doing pageants.

“I was still doing pageants and competing in the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, and I also was on the Selma High School Homecoming Court and was queen in 2012,” said Smith. “So, at this time I’m doing all of these pageants, and end up being nominated for Junior Miss or what is now known as the Distinguished Young Women Pageant, which is a big scholarship opportunity. I did not win, but it was a good experience.”

Distinguished Young Women (DYW) is a national scholarship program that “inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments. Distinguished Young Women strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future,” according to their website.

After high school, Smith attended the University of South Alabama.

“My freshman year, I competed for Miss Alabama that goes on to Miss USA if you win,” she said. “That was the first big pageant that has a system and a national level that I was part of, and I learned a lot from that. After that, I took a year off and I started doing local pageants and pageants at my college, and I started placing in those. One of those pageants was Miss Black and Gold at my college.”

After a placing streak, recruiters sought her out for Miss Black Alabama.

“It sparked my interest because it was the first black only pageant at a national level that I was part of,” she said. “It took me about two weeks to get back to the recruiter that I wanted to be part of it and that I was interested in winning the title. I started preparing in October 2018.

“We had interview questions to get ready for, formal wear and of course, finding sponsors to back you up is always a big deal to help you prepare for the pageant and having a platform that you stand for,” she said.

It was only after winning the title, that the nerves set in.

“When you are going to represent the entire state, that’s when the nerves come into play,” she said. “When I found out I won, I was excited to share my platform with not only my local community, but with different communities across the state. I want to be able to encourage others from different backgrounds.”

If Smith wins in August, she will be the face of Miss Black USA. She will have access to scholarships and will carry the title. She will have major speaking engagements and be backed by big time sponsors including Essence Magazine and Tyler Perry.

“It will give me a national opportunity to share my platform which is more than I can imagine locally,” she said. “To be featured on “Good Morning America”, The New York Times and others will give me a lot of opportunities to share my platform, and that is what it is mainly about just sharing your platform and the changes you want to make.”

For more information visit www.facebook.com/missblackalusa.