A 20-year-old CSUN student will compete with hundreds of other young women across the state for the title of Miss California 2011.
Grace Ayorinde, a senior marketing major, will compete in the pageant in November. As a first-time contestant, she will compete with about 400 other women for a position that can lead to becoming the next Miss USA.
“This position is meant for me,” she said. “I really hope that my story touches a lot of women who have a similar story.”
Growing up, Grace Ayorinde had a difficult time socially because of her dark skin color, she said.
Grace Ayorinde, who is Nigerian, said other kids did not understand her looks and criticized her daily.
“I went through a season of self-hatred,” she said. “I did things not constructive to my self-esteem.”
At one point, she said she wore lighter makeup to change her skin tone.
“I want to help others with dark skin who never thought about being in a pageant,” Grace Ayorinde said. “But, I also want to help other girls whose looks are not understood amongst their peers.”
Grace Ayorinde said dark features will individualize her against other competitors. She added she has not seen people with her dark look at most of the events she has attended.
Regardless of skin color, she said Miss California “is a figure in the community to help.”
The woman who wins the role will help with non-profit organizations, do motivational speaking, volunteer and look “drop-dead gorgeous” at the same time, she said.
“That’s the primary reason, it’s not just for the fame,” she said. “It’s to help.”
Ayorinde said one of her role models is her mother, Beatrice Ayorinde.
“My mother went through a lot and took care of me and my sisters,” she said.
She added that she admired her mother’s strength and intelligence. She also admires her two older sisters, Esther Ayorinde, 26, and Deborah Ayorinde, 23, she said.
She said she could not imagine being able to seek out her sisters in troubling times.
“They are always looking out for my best interests and that’s not something we see very often,” Grace Ayorinde said.
She said she heard about the Miss California competition last October.
When asked to compete for Miss California after the application process, she said it took her less than five minutes to make her decision.
She paid $1,500 to enter the competition. While it was not spare money, the risk to participate is worth it, she said.
Beatrice Ayorinde added that her youngest daughter’s confidence and passion to help the community will differentiate her from her competitors.
“It’s beautiful to see, when a child can see within and see beauty inside and out,” said Beatrice Ayorinde.
Beatrice Ayorinde said she wants her daughter to be successful and that “whatever she wants to do, she has to be the best she can be in life.”
She said God and love are very important in their family, as well as education.
Ayorinde’s older sister, Deborah Aroyinde, said it is her authenticity that makes Grace Aroyinde stand out.
“I really do want her to win because she would be a great role model for anyone out there,” Deborah Ayorinde said. “I know she has a good heart.”
Grace Ayorinde said she also hopes to change the minds of those who do not like or agree with the concept of pageants.
She said she has a friend who did not like pageants until she heard her story.
“I can tell I completely contradicted her notion of pageants,” Grace Ayorinde said. “It’s not so bad if the person trying to win has good intentions. Even if I don’t win the Miss California pageant—if I can change one girl’s life, then I’ve won.”