Personality: Shawna Chapman
Spotlight on America’s United States Mrs. Mid-Atlantic 2024
2/8/2024, 6 p.m.
Growing up in Petersburg, Shawna Chapman never believed pageants were open to women like her, whose background includes dropping out of high school and experiencing periods of homelessness.
And yet, when Mrs. Chapman took to the stage for America’s United States (AUS) Mrs. Mid-Atlantic pageant, she carried herself with the confidence of a professional.
From the interview to the resort wear she showcased, she brought skill and self-assurance that earned her the title and the chance to compete on a larger scale.
“When I was crowned as America’s United States Mrs. Virginia, it was so surreal,” Mrs. Chapman says. “It was even more surreal at nationals when I won the People’s Choice Award.”
These wins are the latest in Mrs. Chapman’s roughly one-year pageant career that includes America’s United States Mrs. Virginia 2023, America’s Leading Edge Mrs. Chesterfield County 2024, America’s Classic Mrs. Virginia 2024 and its Mini Supreme and Ms. Hospitality/Congeniality categories.
It’s an impressive run for someone who started in late 2022 with the Mrs. Virginia Pageant, inspired by a friend who won Miss Curvy Virginia.
Mrs. Chapman liked the approach of AUS’s pageant system, which she said “encourages you to be you,” and she shared her interest in competing with her mother, Ardele Rena Williams, who became her first sponsor. As she began competing, Mrs. Chapman developed a stage persona, Sasha, to help manage the demands of the stage and stand out from other hopefuls. Who are the judges?
“She is fierce, confident, commanding of the room, graceful and elegant,” Mrs. Chapman said of her alter ego. “My mother loves to watch me transform when the curtains open."
Outside the lights and spectacle of the pageants, Mrs. Chapman is more laid-back compared with her Sasha persona. She still is outspoken and driven, but stays in tune with her pageant responsibilities to “have a heart of service and help my community.”
It’s an understatement to say that she stays busy. Mrs. Chapman is the owner of the Naturally Unique Beauty hair salon, provides catering and meal prep through Creations
by Mrs. C. Mrs. Chapman also is employed as a teacher at Petersburg High School’s Master Barber Program. She is vice chair of Recover Hope, a nonprofit organization focused on human trafficking and its victims, which she joined last year after meeting CEO Linda Hawkins in December 2022.
“We need to educate the community, children included, in what to look for,” Mrs. Chapman said, “and set measures to save survivors and help them recover and get the resources they need.”
August will see the start of the Mrs. America’s United States pageant and Mrs. Chapman is gathering sponsors and other resources to potentially compete against 49 other contestants.
“That is something that I live by with this pageant,” Mrs. Chapman said. “Being unapologetically myself.”
Meet a married pageant queen and this week’s Personality, Shawna Chapman:
Latest achievement: America’s United States Mrs. Mid-Atlantic 2024.
Occupation: Teacher, Petersburg High School’s Master Barber Program.
Date and place of birth: Nov.10 in Petersburg.
Where I live now: Chester.
Education: Studied at Virginia State University.
Family: Husband, Tino, son Jayden,18, and daughter Samantha, 22.
America’s United States Mrs. Mid-Atlantic is: She is a person who is selfless. She has a heart of service all the time. Mrs. Mid-Atlantic fixes another queen’s crown with grace and love.
When and why founded: The pageant was founded by Tava Cook and Connie Thomas of Sylva, N.C., in 2020. According to Ms. Cook: “Connie Thomas and I wanted something different than the ‘standard’ pageant. We wanted to be open to all ages and all sizes, giving each woman a place where she feels comfortable and confident to just be herself.”
Where the 2024 crowning pageant was held: The official crowning is taking place Feb.18, 2024, in Albemarle, N.C. I am already crowned for the 2024 court. This just makes it official.
Virginia and the pageant scene: There are a lot of different pageants in Virginia — in-person and virtually, including pageants for those with special needs (and) for the novice to more seasoned pageant participants. There is something for everyone to participate in.
How I qualified to compete: The Mrs. Division is for women 30 and over, married and can have children. You must live in, work in or be from the area you represent.
Why I decided to compete in pageants: Pageantry was not something I ever thought was for me. When I told my mother I was interested, she became my first sponsor for my first competition. I love that the AUS system encourages you to be you. I saw a friend who won Miss Curvy Virginia, so I did my research and started reaching out to the organization. I previously modeled and I thought that it was similar, but I learned that they are two totally different things.
How I wowed the judges: My interview carried a lot of weight in scoring so that was great and my on-stage energy in my resort wear; when I dropped my cover off my shoulders, the room went wild!
My beauty secrets are: I have a facial routine including Murad products and I use white-wash clothes so the dye does not bother my sensitive skin. That’s my biggest secret and I exfoliate daily.
My platform is: My platform is Recover Hope. They exist to prevent exploitation through awareness of human trafficking. I am vice chair for this organization as well. Human and sex trafficking are real and happening right here in our backyard. Many don’t want to discuss it, but it doesn’t make it less prevalent.
How much time goes into getting ready for a pageant: It is an all-year event for nationals. With seeking sponsors and donations, picking material for garments and costumes, fittings, hair, make-up photo shoots, etc. (She said her clothes are handmade by Print Rayge Studios, LLC on IG @Prntdbyrayge, which also provides coaching.)
Mrs. Mid-Atlantic America United States 2024’s responsibilities: Continue to have a heart of service and help my community.
How I start the day: I greet every day with prayer and optimism. I believe your day is what you make of it and I believe you control that power.
The three words that best describe me: Ambitious, self-less, a leader.
If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: I would meditate. I am always on the go and my life is so structured, it would be nice to have just a few more minutes to pray and reflect on what has transpired and what’s to come — uninterrupted.
If I hosted a dream dinner party, my special guest would be: Jennifer Lewis. I love her because of her openness about her mental heaalth and the years of experience in the acting industry, as well as the opportunity to network with her.
Best late-night snack: My late-night snacks are strawberries and sugar with homemade whipped cream or I like orange Jell-O with mandarins or peach Jell-O with peaches.
The music I listen to most is: I listen to old 2000s and earlier hip-hop, R&B and reggae. I occasionally listen to classical music, being a former musician. I played all woodwinds but was a concert clarinet player. I love to break down the key and time signature.
Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I love animals! I used to ride and train horses and love to take care of them. Animals are a pivotal part of life and I believe we need to take care of them like they take care of us. I’m an advocate for them and their well-being as well.
A quote that inspires me: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
At the top of my “to-do” list: Self-care. You cannot pour from an empty cup. I believe you must take care of yourself before you can help or take care of others.
The best thing my parents ever taught me: Never give up! They did not raise a quitter and you have to go through things to get to the other side.
The person who influenced me the most: I am my biggest influence and inspiration based on what I have gone through and accomplished and to see where I am today. I grew up in low-income housing, I was a young mother, a high school dropout, I was homeless and lost everything. I beat cervical cancer twice (most recently in 2023) fast-forward to owning several businesses, teaching high school, working toward my college degree and advocating for my community.
Next goal: To get my restaurant, Creations by Mrs. C, in a brick-and-mortar location.