“I’m all about empowerment and even consider myself an advocate for body positivity, I jokingly proclaim myself to be a beauty activist. I am enjoying the spectrum I am seeing now in media in regards to beauty standards, I strongly believe that women should be allowed to enjoy their bodies and feel worthy in their skin.”
On November 10th 2018 on a chilly North Hollywood night, I stood in front of a panel of beauty pageant judges, a moment later found myself almost choking on my tears and partially blinded by stage lights, I was in the top three! My heart pounded heavily in my plus size frame. I took a quick shallow breath and sucked in my stomach and stood up a little taller, the mic was passed to me like a baton in a marathon, or at least that is what it felt like as I raced to compose thoughts quickly enough in my head to answer the judges questions, my lips parted and I exhaled- today I reign as MISS AFRICA AMERICA 2018 for the Miss Africa America Pageant.
I am a Tanzanian author and actress and recently celebrated a milestone of having sold over 100 books from my debut poetic narrative available on Amazon, entitled “The Color of Promise”, where I pen the “feels” of growth as an immigrant female. My stage is name is Charlie Cakes and I have had the privilege to have films that I was featured in screened at Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, my acting career has landed me on film sets of shows like Orange is the New Black on Netflix, A&E on TLC network and Younger that airs on TV Land. I’ve also had the privilege to act on successful off broadway plays in New York.
I grew up in Oman and had always dreamed of being in the entertainment industry. I had visions of California palm trees and craved to walk down a red carpet.While I am still on the fence about my cravings being completely satiated for Hollywood glamour, it is that same passion and will that brought the Miss Africa America Pageant contestants together as we celebrated our unity and uniqueness as a diverse and delicious African cocktail.
In May, my platform allowed me the privilege to travel to Oakland and crown phenomenal mothers of the Oakland community at a prestigious Mother’s Day event held at the Cordon Hilton Hotel that held more than 600 women in honor of mother’s day. It was an incredible honor to be able to crown other women so soon after my own crowning. I watched as the women applauded and gave a standing ovation to deserving mothers.
I’m all about empowerment and even consider myself an advocate for body positivity, I jokingly proclaim myself to be a beauty activist. I am enjoying the spectrum I am seeing now in media in regards to beauty standards, I strongly believe that women should be allowed to enjoy their bodies and feel worthy in their skin.
Growing up in a culture and land not my own, my body was different and the bullies let me know it by propelling the three letter f-word at me. It led to low self-esteem and the feeling of not being enough. I struggled to love myself and in college found it almost excruciatingly confusing that some would consider me attractive. When I was growing up my friend’s figures did not curve the same way as mine and I was made fun off until music videos started to showing artists that curved similarly, no one had hair like mine either and I still remember the words “carpet hair” hitting me hard in a place I could not see, I was so afraid to not have my hair in some form of braids from then on as I tried to forget the outburst of laughter.
To add to insecurity, there were many times where my “so-da” (which means black in Arabic) skin was discriminated against. I found myself at the other end of pointed fingers feeling embarrassed about something that I could not rinse in a laundry hamper or soak overnight. I had a lot of reasons to doubt and hate myself growing up and I expose my struggle not to create a victim narrative but to be the proof and breakthrough that is needed to someone else who might have found themselves at the end of pointed fingers feeling hurt and embarrassed.
This is also why I believe I’m in entertainment too, growing up I never felt like I got to see enough representation and through this platform I hope to remedy that.
Here, I am! Tanzanian, black, bold, beautiful and wonderfully me. I am creating a new narrative out of the shrapnel of f-words flung my way when I had not yet developed my full armor. Here is a new string of f-words I use to describe myself now: fun, friendly, fearless, fabulous, funky, female, flawed, fearfully formed (and if I may submit for your consideration ) famous (ok, I tried it- in that case, let’s settle for semi-famous).
During my pageant reign I hope to continue to be a goodwill ambassador in America for Africans globally.I like to spread the message in my community that each individual’s’ dream is valid and worthy. My aim is to continue to promote and uphold the Miss Africa America values as I continue to represent myself as MISS AFRICA AMERICA and spread an atmosphere of encouragement and empowerment.
You can follow my reign and my projects on instagram : @charli3cakes and you can find me on youtube under my stage name Charlie Cakes, be sure to check out my latest video on “African girl problems in America.”