The excitement is mounting for one lovely Flint native. Talisha Nicole Gilbert, who was crowned Ms. Black Michigan USA in November 2017, is heading to Washington D.C. in July to represent her state in a national pageant, Ms. Black USA. “I’m extremely excited!” Gilbert exclaims. “I’m thrilled at just having the opportunity to be a part of it.” Ms. Black USA is the premier pageant for women of color. Its mission is to provide educational opportunities to outstanding young women of color and to develop the “whole woman, mind, body and spirit.”
Born and raised in Flint, Gilbert graduated from Carmen-Ainsworth High School and attended Baker College. “I’m a Flint girl all the way – through and through,” she laughs. A single mom, she’s busy raising a seven-year-old son and is employed at Huntington Bank in Downtown Flint. Her parents, Lones and Elaine Gilbert, are her biggest cheerleaders. “They are my heroes,” she says. They have been so supportive.”
Gilbert has always loved pageants and watched them on television with her parents and her sister for over 20 years. It was always a dream of hers to one day compete. When Ms. Black USA became a division of the Miss Black USA Organization, she decided to “Just go for it.” The first step in the process is to become Ms. Black Michigan USA, which she did. This gave her the opportunity to enter the national pageant which will be live-streamed on the Ms. Black USA website on July 1. The competition has four parts: On-Stage Interview and Question, Talent, Evening Wear and Personal Fitness. “I’m doing a dramatic monologue for my talent,” Gilbert reports. “No one else is doing it. It will stand out.”
In her role as Ms. Black Michigan USA, Gilbert makes public appearances once or twice a week. She recently hosted a fundraiser with Clean Water 4 Flint, and took part in the Detroit Derby Brunch which raises funds to support local nonprofits. “My passion is community service and philanthropy,” she says. “That is something that has always been important to me, especially when it involves children.” She has actively served the community with many Flint organizations including Whaley Children’s Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint & Genesee County.
Gilbert is also very involved with her church and teaches Sunday School for four-to-six-year-olds. In her spare time, she loves watching classic movies. “I consider myself an amateur film historian,” she laughs. Her all-time favorite movie is Gone with the Wind. “I love Clark Gable! I love Alfred Hitchcock movies and any movie starring James Stewart.”
What advice does Gilbert have for aspiring pageant competitors? “The most important things to have are confidence and knowing who you are,” she advises. “Those two things will take you far.” Although she is a little nervous about the upcoming pageant, she says she is more excited than anything. “I’ll give it my all and do the very best I can. I love Flint. It will be so exciting to represent our state on a national stage and to shine a light on our city.”
Photos Provided by Donnell Carr