There were plenty of reasons Shameika Rhymes never dreamed she'd be homecoming queen. Despite being a competitive cheerleader who loved being in front of crowds, she was shy one-on-one. She wasn't a beauty queen type who was savvy with fashion and makeup. Even when she was voted onto the homecoming court in 1994 at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina, winning wasn't really on her radar. She showed up in a plaid skirt, white turtleneck, and suspenders; the other nominees wore little black dresses. Escorted by her dad, Tommy, she relished riding onto the football field in her cousin's tricked-out, gold-and-green Mustang convertible and was zoned out staring at the crowd in the stands when her name was called. "It happened so fast—suddenly I saw the previous queen walking toward me and was like 'Wait, what? I won. This is actually happening,'" recalls Shameika, who is now 39 and works as a TV producer and writer in Charlotte.
"When they announced her name, I was bursting with pride," remembers her mom, Linda, 65, who had once enjoyed her own moment in the spotlight as a debutante. "She had already dealt with being the only African-American cheerleader on the squad for years, but to knock down another challenge and take the crown—it was amazing." Receiving such an honor from her peers and seeing how younger black girls in the community looked up to her filled Shameika with new confidence. She lobbied to become the first homecoming queen from her school to participate in the city's Christmas parade and then went on to do pageants and fashion shows in college. Looking back, she has a better understanding of why her classmates rallied behind her. "Being kind to everyone, whether or not they were popular, is probably one thing that worked in my favor," she says. "My family has always taught me to treat people how I want to be treated."
Shameika shares her winning secrets with us bellow.
2 of 4Robbie Caponetto
For Young, Radiant Skin
Shameika started using sunscreen regularly at cheer camp and likes Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion SPF 30, which blends into darker skin.
To keep her hair shiny, she uses Mizani HD Shyne Lightweight Sheen Spray and also wraps her hair before bed. "Back in college, I learned this tip from other girls, and now I do it every night. It helps preserve your style and lock in the sheen," she says.
"I always start out at the midpoint of my lid, being sure to get as close to the lashes as possible, and use small strokes to draw a thin line outward," explains Shameika. Her favorite liquid liner is Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen.