Pageants are much more than primping. After winning the crown for Miss Black USA Madison Gibbs has traveled the globe speaking on mental health, heart disease and women’s empowerment including Ghana Fashion and Design Week and the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy.  The scholarship from the pageant has also supported her studies as a Howard University law student. See her journey to the crown and how she turned disappointment into destiny.

Name: Madison Gibbs  
Age: 22  
Title: Miss Black USA
Location: Washington, DC
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Twitter: @missblackusa
Instagram: @missblackusa  

The gig: I am currently Miss Black USA serving as a role model for girls and representing a generation of women of color. I love that I can wear my natural hair and crown and show girls that it’s their differences that make them unique. We don’t have to transform ourselves or adopt other standards of beauty.

The journey: The opportunity to win a scholarship to help with my law school studies was a big incentive for me to compete for Miss Black USA. To date, they have awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to participants. I was also inspired by the women I call my ‘sister queens’ who came before me from corporate executives and doctors, to award-winning producers and so much more.  It’s time to redefine what it means to be a courageous, compassionate & confident Black woman today

Her best advice: You may have your sight set on one thing, but there’s always something bigger out there destined for you. Before becoming Miss Black USA, I lost a pageant at my college. Not winning was disappointing but also gave me the opportunity to go for a bigger crown. Each day presents new opportunities, so seize them!

Her lesson learned: The mistake I learned most from was hanging around the wrong people.  Surround yourself with losers, users and abusers, and you’ll sink to the lowest common denominator.  Surround yourself with grade-A encouragement, and you’ll rise to the top.  I recovered by being more selective with my friends and surrounding myself with people who had the same goals and mindset as I did.

Her downtime: Music has always centered me. Whether I’m playing the piano, making up random choreography in my room or reciting Alicia Key’s “Superwoman” when I need encouragement, music helps me refocus.

Her tech fix: As a law student, I love because it allows me to streamline the latest legal news. 

Her beauty bag: Hands-down the “RED Empowerment” lipstick by Lamik Beauty to benefit Miss Black USA Scholarship. I’m also a big fan of Beautiful Textures edges to ends silkener and Extra Shade hydrating lotion. 

Her power style accessory: Pearls! They add a touch of distinction to any outfit! Plus, they’re a sign of timeless class and fortitude.

Her superpower: I give. When I give to my community, I gain endless amounts of energy, perspective and love. It inspires me to keep serving and in return I am rewarded.

Her theme song: “I was here” by Beyoncé