16-Year-Old Dance Coach Becomes the First Black Miss Teen Illinois USA

Miss Illinois Teen USA

In the 34-year-history of the Miss Teen Illinois USA pageant, Sydni Dion Bennett is the first young Black woman to win the competition.

Bennett, 16, a dance coach at the Perfection Dance Artistry and Company, was shocked when she won took home the pageant title from the early September competition.

“When they said my name, I was like, ‘Whoa! It’s me!’ I wasn’t expecting it, honestly. My reaction video isn’t that good because I didn’t know what to do. It set in a couple days after.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYqwvmMHosC/

See Also
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 30: A protester holds a sign with a photo of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during demonstrations following the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Chauvin was taken into custody for Floyd's death. Chauvin has been accused of kneeling on Floyd's neck as he pleaded with him about not being able to breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead a short while later. Chauvin and 3 other officers, who were involved in the arrest, were fired from the police department after a video of the arrest was circulated. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Bennett told the Chicago Tribune she had no prior knowledge of the history that took place that night. But she and a small group of other Black Miss Illinois Teen USA were rooting for one another, nonetheless.

“There were very few Black girls competing,” said Bennett. “We were all close friends and talked about how it had to be the year for one of us to take it. No matter who, we wanted one of us to win.”

Newsletter

Sign up for the EBONY Newsletter

Newsletter

Sign up for the EBONY Newsletter

When you sign up for the EBONY newsletter, you’ll be the first to know about all the latest news and updates that are important to you. Gain access to exclusive interviews, videos, special events, and product giveaways delivered right to your inbox!