Add Natoya Matthews to the ever-expanding list of African American pageant queens – the Memphis native is the new Ms. Black Tennessee International Ambassador for 2020.
“To win such a prestigious title at a time where African American women dominate the predominantly Caucasian pageant system (Miss Universe, USA, Teen USA, & America) is the most incredible feeling,” Matthews said.
“Pageants are becoming more and more popular and prevalent in our community and it’s so important that our children see a representation of themselves as much as possible,” she added.
According to the official website, the Miss Black International Ambassador (MBIA) Pageant, formerly the Miss Black US Ambassador Pageant, is a program of Ambassadors of Change Inc., an organization which exists to give a once in a lifetime opportunity to black women globally.
“As Ambassadors of Change, each woman embarks on the journey to encourage, empower, and enlighten communities, states, and nations,” said a statement on the MBIA site. “These women are a rising voice in the community that seeks to make a difference, by providing educational forums and events that focus on health disparities, poverty, violence and major issues plaguing black women of the diaspora globally. They are role models not only for young black women but to all women around the world.”
Winning the crown is allowing Matthews an opportunity of a lifetime!
“Pageantry is my passion and to be able to bring home a state title of this magnitude is still surreal and just a sheer blessing for me,” she said. “As a young lady, finding my passion in life was extremely important to me. I’ve been a part of performing arts – acting, singing, dance and other disciplined arts – since the age of five.”
After receiving a bachelor’s in mass communications, Matthews and her twin sister co-founded Memphis’ very own gem, LilyRoze Studios, an acting studio that caters to youth.
“I had the opportunity to teach, act in several hit plays, and work directly with some of the city’s most radiant actors,” Matthews said. But despite working for a Fortune 500 company, pageantry was never far from her heart.
“I kept gravitating back to my first love… pageantry,” she said. “My passion is and has always been centered in the betterment and welfare of our young girls. I love showcasing intelligence, talent, and beauty.”
As the newly crowned Ms. Black Tennessee International Ambassador, Matthews will work to encourage, empower, and enlighten statewide communities.
“During my reign, I plan to travel across the state of Tennessee promoting my platform which is youth empowerment,” she said. “I am set to go on school and church tours and serve in the community with youth organizations all over the state.”
Matthews is most excited about an upcoming pageant she is hosting on May 31 at the West Memphis Civic Center. It will be a traditional competition filled with empowerment workshops, trainings, and fun events for girls ages 4-18, she said.
“I hope to inspire girls through pageantry by teaching them that being a girl with class, poise, dignity, and etiquette is cool, (especially) in an oversexualized world that looks at women for what they look like on the outside versus what they posses on the inside,” she said. “I hope to inspire girls and women by showing them, ‘if you envision it, you can do it.
“I was bullied and had low-self esteem growing up, so if I can be to other girls, what I needed when I was a young girl, then I feel that I’m not only fulfilling my pageant duties, but the calling God has placed on my life!” she said.
Next up, Natoya represents the Volunteer State in the MBIA International competition in July in Nassau, The Bahamas. And I will keep you updated on the reign of this inspiring woman!