Compton beauty queen speaks out for her community

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LeTania Kirkland: You’re hoping to represent Compton as Miss California USA. What made you decide to represent in this way?

Shanice McKinley: Even since high school, I always wanted to come back to my community and be a leader and a role model, because a lot of our youth, we don’t have that. They don’t have many people to look up to and say, ‘They did something amazing.’ When I got offered that opportunity, I said, ‘This is the perfect way to get the message out. Everyone knows about Miss California.’

Kirkland: Would you have ever considered being part of a beauty competition before this opportunity?

McKinley: No, I actually wouldn’t. I would’ve never imagined so much would come out of this beauty pageant. I thought that it would get some attention as far as getting the message out. I didn’t know it would inspire so many people. I had people cry while I’m there giving my vision. I had people shouting out their cars, so many kids giving me hugs and parents telling me thank you.

Kirkland: And you call yourself ‘Miss Birthing a New Compton,’ the city’s new motto. Why did you decide upon that?

McKinley: I mean, Compton has really changed so much and the old brand of Compton… Compton has a very strong brand. You can go to Africa, and they’d probably know about Compton. The things that are associated with that brand are so negative, and I love the city’s slogan, ‘Birthing a New Compton,’ and that’s the message that I wanted to get out to the people, that this is not the same Compton anymore. We have changed so much, so I thought that would actually be the perfect slogan, so when people hear Compton, they’ll have a different taste in their mouth.

Kirkland: How do you plan on bringing your own success, past and future, back to the community?

McKinley: My whole envision is this youth center. I’m actually starting a freelance marketing business right after this pageant, and with the profits I get, I would donate 10 percent of it to building this youth center. The vision of the youth center is that they will be able to operate as a resource center to connect youth to their dreams, like financial aid, SAT scores, help them prepare for becoming a business owner or doctor. We’ll help them step by step to get those met.

Kirkland: The competition is this weekend. Are you nervous?

McKinley: Oh yeah. I’m nervous, I feel so pressured. But this is what I’ve been working for. These three months, this is why I’ve been talking to people, this is why I’ve been sharing my vision.