A USC junior has qualified as one of the contestants for the Miss Africa USA contest, a beauty pageant dedicated to African girls in America.
Chinecherem Eze, a student majoring in political science, was born in eastern Nigeria and came to the United States in 2013. On Nov. 5, she will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the pageant, which was launched in Atlanta in 2005.
Eze said that she is very passionate about Africa, and one of her biggest inspirations for joining the beauty pageant is that she wants to make use of the platform to become a voice for black women.
“I advocate for natural beauty,” Eze said. “I emphasize black women being comfortable in their skin and loving themselves in their skin. We don’t have to change the color of our skin to look beautiful.”
Eze created a skincare line called Skin Afrique in January in order to discourage black women from bleaching their skin to look lighter. She said she wants to take a stand against the fact that society defines darker-skinned women as less beautiful than women with lighter skin.
“Black is beautiful, black is powerful and being black is simply magical,” Eze said.
In March 2015, Eze started the Chinecherem Eze Foundation, a nonprofit, to support black female business owners through resources such as grants and to provide education for black girls in her native country of Nigeria.
“Sometimes what stops a child in Africa from going to school could be as little as $5,” Eze said. “This is why is goal of sending more African children to school is so dear to me. I want children to live their dreams, because they are the future of Africa.”
So far, the foundation has been able to pay for five kids’ tuitions for one year, and now she hopes to send up to 50 kids to school by the end of next year.
“I hope to extend my foundation to more African countries and not just my country of origin,” Eze said. “I also hope to spend more time in Africa teaching African women the importance of blackness through workshops, seminars or conferences.”
John Agbo, Eze’s friend of three years, said he supported Eze’s participation in the pageant because of the personal qualities that made her stand out.
“Chinecherem is very upright, hardworking and passionate,” Agbo said. “She always goes for what she wants with all of her energy. She is the nicest person I have ever met.”
Eze said she’s learned a lot about herself during the preliminary phase of the pageant, including how to be more self-confident and believe in her abilities.
However, she said that the contest is not only about her personal goals, but also about the impact she can make on the issues she cares about.
“After this competition, I hope that I would spend more time in serving humanity through my humanitarian platforms and to continue to pursue my dreams and purpose in life,” Eze said.