By day, she runs vision tests. By night, she’s Mrs. Black North Carolina International. Her big pageant is coming up this month.
by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose
At the optometrist’s office, peering into those scary steel tubes that test your vision, you might be tempted to gaze into the eyes of the person who’s testing yours. In this case, no one would blame you—especially if you were at Champion Eye Center in Arden and the optometry tech was beauty queen Tamekia Miller-Madden. The 38-year-old mother of three currently holds the title Mrs. Black North Carolina International and heads to Atlanta later this month for the national pageant.
In her house, with three boys—ages 21, 16 and 9—and a husband all playing sports, there’s plenty of testosterone. “This is my girly thing,” she says. And in 15 years of modeling and pageantry, she has sometimes been quite girly indeed. Miller-Madden was a cheerleader at Reynolds High School, and now she mentors cheerleaders, having recently been elected a cheerleading commissioner for the state. She has held the titles of Elite Mrs. North Carolina, Mrs. Western North Carolina and five others (married women compete for Mrs. Titles, unmarried compete for Miss). She frequently appears in crown and sash at area youth league football games to speak about good sportsmanship, one of her themes as a pageant contestant. At the July contest, she’ll appear on stage in a referee outfit with stripes on top and poofy can-can skirt with a rhinestone whistle.
Next month’s pageant involves a panel-style interview with judges and competitions in eveningwear and aerobic wear. (Thankfully, no swimsuits, she says.) Several area businesses are helping to sponsor her trip to Atlanta, where the cost to enter the contest is $599. A Florida boutique, Crowning Closet, will donate her leopard gown, and Constance Ensner of Constance Boutiques in Asheville has helped with clothing, styling and accessories. She’ll be competing against other married women, ages 21 to 55, for more than $4,000 cash, plus gifts, along with the glam that comes from being Mrs. Black International.
Miller-Madden says she chose the theme of good sportsmanship because sports these days can be so violent. She sees fights between players, but also between players and parents, or parents and other parents. “I’ve seen how parents can get irate and out of control, and their kids mimic that action,” she says. Miller-Madden is looking to change minds, and also to influence her boys, Teavin, Jaylyn and Davin, who run track and play football. So how does this beauty queen want to change the world? As though it were her pageant script, she says: “One child at a time.”