Here’s what you call a game-changer: For the first time in its 66-year history, Miss Universe Great Britain—the qualifying pageant for the Miss Universe competition—gave the crown to a black woman.
But the history-making honor didn’t go to your average pageant queen; winner Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers is a heptathlete with a head full of gorgeous locs, making her not only the first black woman to capture the crown in Britain but also the first to compete in a major pageant wearing dreadlocks.
“[T]o my knowledge, I am the first dreadlocked woman to walk across a Miss Universe Great Britain stage,” Kentish-Rogers told Pageant News. “[A]nd that is absolutely most exciting to me.”
Paula Abbandonato, national director for Miss Universe Great Britain since 2008, told BuzzFeed she is “absolutely delighted” by Kentish-Rogers’ win, saying:
I can honestly say there is no better gift [than] having our first black winner to celebrate 10 years in [my] job. Dee-Ann is a true role model for all women of all skin colors and with her dynamism off the stage, coupled with her presence on the stage, I genuinely believe Great Britain has a chance at the Miss Universe crown this year.
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But despite her newfound status as a pageant queen poised to compete for the Miss Universe crown, Kentish-Rogers is still an athlete at heart, and wants to make an impact for other female athletes, telling Pageant News:
The difference I want to make is simply representing for women in general and in particular Women in Sports. I want to raise the profile of women in sports so that they will be able to gather more sponsorship and representation in the media. I am also very passionate about seeing equal pay opportunities for women in sports. This is where I want to make a difference.