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“Miss Richmond” heads to pageants

on December 14, 2012

Alexis Pickins, otherwise known as “Miss Richmond,” will be representing her hometown in two upcoming beauty pageants.

The 22-year-old senior at UC Berkeley will compete in Miss Black California Dec. 28-30 and Miss California Jan. 12-13, and she may well be the first “Miss Richmond” the city has ever seen.

But for the community, Pickins isn’t just a pretty face – a star student in high school and the first who will graduate from college in her family, she’s a role model.

“I want to see inner city girls maximize their God-given talent and become the best person they can be,” she said. “For most young girls, especially in Richmond, California, seeing is believing.”

Pickins, who is studying environmental economics and policy, said role models who are educated and “feminine” at the same time are few and far between.

Pickins, however, had her grandmother.

“She is one of the most stylish and educated women I know,” she said. “She taught me so much in the world and how essential education—and higher education—is.”

And working hard at school has always been Pickins’ top priority.

“Although I wanted to fulfill my interest in modeling and acting, my parents definitely made it known that education, going to Berkeley, was definitely first,” Pickins said.  She graduated with a 4.3 GPA from Richmond High School after holding a variety of jobs, from retail to amusement parks to food. She used the money she earned working every summer and winter to help pay for college.

It was after growing up watching movies like Miss Congeniality and modeling commercials that she wanted to be a model. But she said she didn’t know how to enter such a contest – until one day she decided to Google it. A few headshots and an interview later, Pickins was officially crowned Miss Black Richmond Nov. 24 in Los Angeles.

“I kind of feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life for this moment,” she said.

Miss Black California is a non-profit organization for young women of color, while Miss California is part of the larger Miss USA pageant owned by Donald Trump. Right now, Pickins is focusing on raising a total of $5,000 for her trip to Southern California, which will cover her airfare, accommodation, and dresses.

The competitions will have Pickins donning a variety of outfits and demonstrating a talent— for her, that’s dancing.

“I’ve danced, I’ve cheered all four years through high school,” she said, and added that she continues to perform on campus and with a San Francisco dance team. “I definitely feel prepared.”

Pickins isn’t set on her post-graduation career, but she said she knows she wants to give back to the community.

“I am in the process of creating an organization for the community that will help empower young women and just the youth in general just to give them the outlet to help them to create self-esteem,” and to pursue higher education, she said.

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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