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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Little Miss Sunshine



Little Miss Sunshine: LaPrecious Brewer Interview

by Evan Jackson



There were two intangible qualities that I noticed about LaPrecious Brewer that revealed her character. First, her humility was apparent when she recanted stories of her winning Miss Black Kentucky 2014 feeling blessed and thankful for everyone who helped her to get to that point. Second, her quiet strength she exhibited when she tells me the trials and tribulations in her life. She’s determined to use her platform of pageants to spread her message about Domestic Violence. Currently LaPrecious goes to Louisville University, where majoring in communications and Pan-African Studies help her grow into the leader she is today as well as a motivational speaker. Along with being humble LaPrecious seems shy, but she transforms into a ray of sunshine when she discusses her passions and why she likes to have a positive impact on young women. Find out more about her journey here and recognize why your light might be brighter just by knowing her story.

What is the story behind you winning the Miss Black Kentucky in 2014?
I decided to enter Miss Black Kentucky 2014 because at that time Kentucky didn’t have a preliminary pageant, which is kind of funny because now I’m the new director of the Kentucky pageant. I was doing an internship with my cousin who owns a big PR company here called VIPP communications. One of her clients is former basketball player Derek Anderson. We he had to do one of his camps and one of his friends, who is now his fiancĂ©e Ashley Miller, said I would be great to do pageants. She said I have a real passion for others, that I spoke well, and she encouraged me to do it. At the time I was thinking of doing it. At first I thought it wasn’t for me, I didn’t see myself as a pageant girl, and I would go there and embarrass myself. However she said she would coach me and stick with me through the entire process. At that time the pageant was based on your GPA, letters of recommendation, your pageant resume, talking about your community service, the extracurricular activities and organizations you were involved in on campus. When I did that, I went forward and onto D.C. to the Miss Black USA pageant and did my best. I didn’t get the national title however I did get The Founder’s Award.

When I won the Miss Black Kentucky pageant I felt that was my chance to make a difference. I was very proud of myself. Then it sunk in, that was my very first pageant so I was scared. I had begun to call on different friends and those who I knew in Kentucky that were pageant girls all their lives to get mentorship. 

What is your main motivation when it came to entering pageants?
My motivation behind entering pageants was the platform it provided. When you’re crowned, you’re crowned a title, so you’re able to share your ideas and share your passions with other people. You have some type of influence and that was the main thing that kept me doing it. I was able to do community service and I was able to speak to younger girls or women who have been abused. It’s not the glitz and glam, all the events I’ve been to, the celebrities I’ve met, or the different entertainment activities I had to do.  It’s pretty much the community service that motivates me. My heart is big and I love to help others.

Why is it important to use your platform to spread your personal message, especially when it comes to awareness of Domestic Violence?
It is very important because Domestic Violence is very common, but we don’t like to talk about it especially in the Black community. You saw it a lot with the Ray Rice situation that came out last year. You had a lot of mixed feelings about the situation, but at the end of the day the undertone was it was the victim’s fault. I really don’t think that’s fair. A lot of people were asking why didn’t she leave, but they really don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, what goes on in the mind of the victim, or the cycle of Domestic Violence that keeps a person there. It could be a lot of different things; mentally, emotionally, or they might be broken financially where they are not able to escape the situation. I feel like it was very important for me to tell my story. I want to spread the message of it’s not ok and it’s not your fault. I want to reach a young crowd, college age, because it happens there too or it starts there. A lot of situations where there are girls my age who think ‘He really loves me, his jealously shows that he really wants me’ but they should know that’s not healthy. If we come together and talk openly about this we can bring a stop to it. Just like the campaign says if you know more then they’ll be no more.

How has your education at Louisville being a double major in Communications and Pan-African Studies help you be where you’re at today?
In Communications I believe it has helped me articulate my message in a better way. It’s helped me break out of my shell a lot more and then with Pan-African Studies it has helped me see the world in a different way. My Theater Arts minor that’s helped me think differently and go outside my box, a little too much. At nationals for Miss Black USA I should have known this but everyone’s talent was a monologue or a dance pertaining to the African American women but I came out on the stage to Lady Gaga’s “Applause”. It was a very dramatic routine, but I know the audience was wondering what was going on.

How did you come to be the Miss Black Kentucky USA Director?
I came to be the director after winning the Founder’s Award. The Founder’s Award is like the second best award at the Miss Black USA pageant. It’s for the queen that shows the most leadership and does the most when it comes to community service. The Founders awards included a trip to Paris, a trip to Dubai, and a $1,000 scholarship. I’m really excited about that. After I won, I thought how am I going to maximize my award. Apart of the award is you get to be mentored by the founder of the Miss Black USA pageant. I was talking to her every other week. She motivates you and helps you get the connections that you need. I came to her with the idea of purchasing the franchise of the Miss Black Kentucky pageant. I expressed to her that I like pageants, you get to meet people, but my passion is not about being in the spotlight. My passion is about helping others to get where they want to be. She talked to me about the ins and outs of it to make sure I wasn’t just thrown into this and we finally made the decision that I would take over the franchise. I’m hoping and praying that it turns out the way that I want it to, so far we have twenty three girls and get emails every day. With Miss Black USA it’s been a blessing because it has allowed me to come out of my shell and been a way for me to meet the people that I need to meet. And like I said it’s been a way to spread my message through my platform. There are a lot of great benefits as well, with it being a huge sisterhood. Some of my sister queens I still talk to every day. If you are going ahead and win the national title you go on to do other great things.

Where do you think you get that motivational spirit from?
It comes from just the women I’ve grown to admire. I want to make an impact on the lives of other girls as much as they’ve made an impact on mine. I collect wisdom from everyone and I also read books. I pay attention to everything. I’m always looking for ways to grow and expand. Whatever I take in I want to give out to others.

One of your recent blog posts is titled “Be Bold and Unwavering”. What is the boldest thing you’ve done yet?
The boldest thing that I’ve done yet is taking on the Miss Black Kentucky franchise alone. I went into the pageants with two co-directors however they had businesses of their own they had to attend to. Despite going it alone I wasn’t going to give up, that’s something I’ll never do. I’m going to keep at it until I get it right. There are some days I don’t get to sleep until four or five in the morning. I think that’s the boldest move I’ve done, just representing a franchise alone just stepping out having to contact those sponsors for scholarships, having to go to these different companies, and contacting vendors. It’s the boldest thing I’ve done yet but the most rewarding.

In the same blog post you allude to the fact you can’t let others ‘dim your light’. When are the moments where your light shines the brightest?
In the midst of all of this I’m a single mother and I would have to say my light shines the brightest every time my daughter looks at me and she’ll say ‘I’m very proud of you’. It kind of sometimes makes me want to cry.  And she’s young, so I can’t believe that she understands how hard I work to get to where I want to go. At the same time that’s my number one mentee. So I go around and I speak to other girls, but at the end of the day she’s the number one person I want to influence.  So when she expresses to me the things that I do and how it impacts her I shine constantly.

Tell us more about your upcoming book and your upcoming speaking tour?
The speaking tour will begin in the fall at the same time my book comes out. The book is the full story of my Domestic Violence situation. It’s a motivational book for other girls that have gone through different type of abuse as well: whether it is emotional abuse, physical abuse, or verbal abuse. It’s a story on how you can regain your kingdom and become a queen again. It’s called I Reign. The story comes from the fact I left my ex-fiancĂ© on Valentine’s Day of 2014. It took me all the way up until this past Valentine’s Day of this year to feel whole again. I’ll always celebrate Valentine’s Day as the day I gained my freedom. I want other girls to have that year of realizing who they are, gain their freedom, and to become a queen again. The book will come in September and the speaking tour is with Outrageous. That is the non-profit I did the documentary with about Domestic Violence and it’s on their website outrageous.org.    

What has been one of your most memorable moments when it came to your public speaking?
The speaking events I love the most are the ones that cater to young women however they’re a tough audience. So you’re up here trying to motivate them, tell their story, get them to talk, but they’re just staring at you. Like ‘Who is this girl?’. This past event that I had in March in Illinois I was speaking to a large group of girls. There were over a 150 girls and they all were seventh, eighth graders, and some in high school. Even though I had jeans and a t-shirt I still had on heels and they felt like I wasn’t a part of them. It was hard trying to break through them or break the ice before I spoke. The different activities and workshop sessions, they really didn’t open up to me; however when I went up on stage to speak at that time my feet were hurting. So I took my shoes off and threw them down on the stage. Then I sat down and opened all the way up. As soon as I did that then they saw that it’s not a facade. She is who she is and this is someone I want to listen to. A lot of the girls ended up crying, girls raised their hands and told their stories, and girls started telling their stories amongst each other at the table. That was a great moment for me. I even had some of the girls that just got up on stage and hugged me. That was really nice.

What are your future aspirations?
Oh lord, take over the world. As of right now the things in my immediate future  what I’ll is continue to do. I have my book coming out and my upcoming speaking tour in the fall which I’m focusing on now.

Where can people reach you at?
You can reach me at www.LaPrecious.com or any of my social media sites
 Facebook: LaPrecious Brewer
 Twitter/Instagram: IamLaPreciousB

I speak to pretty much everyone and I’m friendly. When I do have down time I like to respond to a majority of my messages. I’m an open book, so if you ever need any advice, someone to talk to, or connect with I’m there.

 

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