1. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey was crowned Miss Black Tennessee back in 1972. As we all know, Ms. Winfrey has gone on to master and dominate any thing she sets out to do.
2. Jayne Kennedy
Jayne was crowned Miss Ohio USA in 1970 (she was the first African American woman to win the title), and was one of the 15 semi-finalists in the Miss USA 1970 pageant. She was one of the first women to infiltrate the male-dominated world of sports announcing with a role on The NFL Today. She won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture award for 1981’s Body and Soul.
3. Deya Smith
Our very own Deya Direct was crowned 1994 Miss Black USA. She is an actress, blogger, personality, inspirational & motivational speaker, and author.
4. Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams was named Miss America in 1984. She resigned when Penthouse magazine bought and published nude photographs of her. She rebounded by launching a career as an entertainer, earning multiple Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations.
5. Suzette Charles
When Vanessa Williams bowed out as Miss America 1984, she was replaced by her first-runner-up, Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles. The half Italian/half Black stunner was Miss America for a total of seven weeks, and then went on to enjoy a career as a singer and television personality.
6. Halle Berry
Berry made her pageant debut in 1985, winning Miss Teen All-American. A year later, she was crowned Miss Ohio USA and became runner-up to Miss USA. She is now an Academy Award winning actress.
7. Kenya Moore
At age 22 in 1993, Kenya Summer Moore took the title of Miss Michigan, which led to her becoming Miss USA and placing sixth in Miss Universe that same year.
8. Eva Longoria
Actress, producer and director Eva Longoria won the title Miss Corpus Christi in 1998.
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10. Janelle Commissiong
In 1977, Janelle Commissiong won the title of Miss Trinidad and Tobago, and went on to become the first Black Miss Universe in the history of the competition.
11. Debbye Turner
Debbye Turner was first runner-up in the Miss Black Teenage World pageant in 1981; and in 1989 she won the Miss Missouri title and went on to be crowned Miss America 1990. These days, Turner is a reporter and contributor for CBS News’ The Early Show and a veterinarian.
12. Carole Gist
Carole Gist is the first Black Miss USA Winner and won the title of Miss USA in 1990. She is now one of the most popular trainers at Wayne State University, in Detroit. The six-foot beauty started out teaching aerobics while she was a stay-at-home wife and mother for 15 years.
13. Kimberly Aiken
Kimberly Aiken was only 18 years-old when she won the Miss America 1994 crown. Today, the former accountant is an image consultant and motivational speaker. She was also listed as one of the Fifty Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine.
14. Vanessa Minnillo
Nick Lachey nabbed himself a beauty queen! Vanessa Minnillo was the first Miss South Carolina Teen who also went on to win Miss Teen USA in 1998.
15. Kelly Hu
Kelly Hu, who received her big break as an actress in “Growing Pains,” won Miss Teen USA in 1985 and later won Miss Hawaii USA in 1993.
16. Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch, who many refer to as a ‘60s sex symbol, was the winner of the La Jolla Beauty Competition in 1955.
17. Sophia Bush
Before becoming a breakout star on “One Tree Hill,” actress Sophia Bush was the Rose Queen in 2000.