Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer
Premiering on YouTube on Feb. 19, Hampton University was able to host yet another successful virtual pageant thanks to the Gamma Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Madani Dembele, was chosen to become the next Mr. Ivy.
Dembele, a graduating senior strategic communication student, expressed his excitement after finding out that he had achieved his dream of winning the Mr. Ivy Pageant.
“I was ecstatic,” said Dembele. “I was really happy my hard work paid off.”
Anticipating the pageant since junior year, Dembele’s opportunity to participate was ripped away when the pageant was canceled due to COVID-19. When he saw the opportunity to join again this year, he was admittedly hesitant to take the chance.
“The pageant came around a few weeks ago this semester. A couple of my friends said I should do it again. I said ‘Nah.’ I was a little bit hesitant,” said Dembele. “I didn’t send my application in until the day of, but I said ‘Hey, I’m gonna do this.’ It was just a matter of time because this has been one of my goals for a long while.”
Despite the pageant being virtual, it still left a huge impact on Dembele, allowing him to step out of his comfort zone.
“It allowed me to bring everything that I’ve been working on to light. For example, for my talent, I did rap, but I’ve been writing raps here and there for a few months now,” he said. “It’s sort of like a hobby for me, but the pageant allowed me to go into full production mode.”
Dembele said that with the help of a friend who studies film, the video was shot, and he was able to put everything together. He wanted to bring three things together for his talent performance: Black History Month, the Gamma Theta Chapter and his platform, “Rising Above the Ashes.”
With the pageant being virtual, Dembele found the experience interesting in how he had to plan for a video.
“It was kind of complicated. I had to make sure certain things would sound good through all outlets since everyone is watching through different devices,” he explained. “I just wanted to make sure it was cohesive and that everyone would have the same experience watching what I put out there.”
Dembele expressed that virtual pageants allowed contestants to have more creative control than in-person pageants. He saw the ability to control things as an advantage.
“In a virtual pageant, you have a lot more creative control, and you can correct or fix things that you don’t want to showcase. As opposed to an in-person pageant, you don’t get that opportunity to go back and edit what you just did on stage. It’s irreversible.” said Dembele.
His platform, “Rising Above the Ashes,” is a program targeted at African American youth, promoting mentorship and overall wellness. Dembele believes that the youth are the future, and thinks his platform will help them see that.
“I do believe that the youth are our future, and I think that they can be damaged which prevents them from living to their fullest potential. It can be hard to see the brighter things in life when all you’ve been seeing is darkness,” he expressed.
Dembele says the main takeaway of his platform that he wants African American youth to know, is that they are enough and are deserving of more than they think.
Madani Dembele plans to accept a job offer at AT&T for their BRB Sales Development program after graduating in May of this year.