When Deidra Locklear, 21, won the Miss UNCP title on Jan. 25, she was following in the footsteps of her older sister, Nahir Locklear Hunt, who was Miss Lumbee in 1990.
The Locklear sisters have budding pageant bloodlines. Their cousins Alexis Locklear, 14, and Tala Locklear, 8, and Nahir's 8-year-old daughter Kenda Hunt - expect to be walking across the stage during the next decade.
The young trio will accompany Deidra to Raleigh's BTI Center for the Miss North Carolina Pageant, which runs from June 18 through June 22. There Deidra will competed against 29 other contestants for the crown and a ticket to the Miss America pageant.
For the talent portion of the contest, Deidra will perform “Alejate” - a song made popular by Josh Groban.
“I've had to work on my Spanish,” Deidra said. “It's a classical song about being in love but saying good-bye to love. It's about closure.”
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke senior is no stranger to performing.
Deidra has acted for 10 years, with major roles in high school productions such as “West Side Story,” “The Crucible,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
She has developed her voice while singing at New Prospect Holiness Methodist Church.
Her platform - Commit to be Fit - emphasize healthy eating and physical fitness.
“My transition between school and starting a career and also the possibility of being Miss North Carolina will be an excellent opportunity to promote my platform,” said the daughter of Denzil and Joan Locklear. “It's about educating kids on ways to have proper nutrition, getting them to think about a whole wheat crusted pizza or low sodium, low fat hot-dog.”
Deidra is living the fitness part of her platform.
“My personal trainer, Jeff Bolles (UNCP's strength and conditioning coach), has me in the gym two hours a day,” she said. “He's working me hard. I'm trying to be a role model and not a hypocrite for children, who should have aerobic class in P.E. and be challenged to run a mile. Kids need a rivalry and a challenge.”
Deidra says she'd like to run a wellness program.
“I have a passion for it and I feel it's a way in which I could give back,” said Deidra, who made the Chancellor's list at UNCP last semester. “It's really something we need in this country. So while all this is big thing nationwide, it also hits home.”
Alexis, the reigning Little Miss Lumbee, said Deidra's platform highlights the serious side of pageants.
“It's a sport but it's stereotyped as for girls who are preppy and prissy,” said Alexis, a freshman at Purnell Swett High School who has competed in pageants since she was 7. “They don't understand how we have to train. You have to nail the interview by speaking and thinking on your feet. You have to study your platform day in and day out. The talent part is the easiest because singing comes naturally for me. Good looks doesn't win pageants.”
She added that pageant work has helped her mature.
“I'm more self-confident, speak more fluently in front of people and it has improved my outlook on many things,” she said.
Deidra and Alexis have traveled together as far away as Aberdeen for vocal training.
“I look up to her in many ways; her values and morals,” said Alexis of her cousin. “She's like my big sister, someone I'd like to be like when I'm her age.”
But pageants are only a spring board for Alexis, who has large goals.
“I want to attend the University of Copenhagen in England and become a pediatric heart surgeon,” she said. “I want a good education and to be able to get out of the U.S. and explore.”
While in Raleigh, Alexis, the daughter of Marla Locklear, will compete against contestants from across the state for Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen. She was selected for the contest by Deidra.
Deidra also appointed Kenda, who has previous pageant experience, as Miss UNCP Carolina Princess, while Tala, was appointed as Miss UNCP Outstanding Teen Carolina Princess. Both are honorary titles.
Kenda is the daughter of Kent and Nahir Hunt Locklear, and Tala is the daughter of Trent and Debra Locklear. Tala will compete for the Little Miss Lumbee title on June 26 at the Givens Performing Arts Center.