From Halle Berry to Hattie McDaniel, who was the first Black women to ever win an Academy Award in 1939 74 years ago, the cause célèbre for my desire to honor these iconic women was the shocking and ignorant insults and remarks heralded toward me in Anguilla by a 31-year-old girl. I was told I was irrelevant, old, and a nonfactor at 41 being a part of history by becoming the 2nd black woman to be crowned Miss USA.
After I overcame my sadness and disdain at the ignorance and lack of respect that exists in America from some slightly younger, historically-challenged individuals, I felt it my responsibility to honor the women who have undoubtedly paved the way, opened doors, and broken racial barriers and stereotypes amidst hatred for women, which has allowed people like me to proudly walk through. I put a lot of time and effort into the party. I thought of each woman individually and assigned them costumes based on who their dynamic personalities. It was easy… I chose Kandi as iconic Tina Turner, because she is a powerhouse musical talent, strong, sexy and bold. I saw Cynthia as the iconic Diana Ross from Mahogany as she struggled in love and her modeling career in the film. Phaedra loves to flaunt her sexuality and her body and iconic Eartha Kitt as Catwoman was a perfect fit. NeNe was a no brainer as iconic Grace Jones. She was beyond powerful, bold, fierce, and untraditionally beautiful and simply stunning on screen. I knew NeNe would own it, and she did! Iconic Pam Grier had alarming beauty, obnoxious curves, and she owned being a strong, sexy, take-no-prisoners, kick ass and take names later, bad-ass. I live for her and was happy to pay homage to one of the most incredible women to ever be seen on the silver screen. Halle Berry is and will always be one of the most beautiful women in the world. In B.A.P.S., she was a young, pretty, unpolished, fun, and likable diamond in the rough. Her character arc showed her grow, mature, and become a beautiful polished Black American Princess who was willing to accept change. Perhaps, my vision was too complex for a self-centered little girl to understand.