By: Meredith Bahuriak, Barbizon International
Shaylett Stuckey is the reigning Mrs. Michigan America. She is also a graduate of Barbizon of Southfield Michigan in the early 1980’s. Though a few decades have passed since her graduation ceremony, Shaylett reveals she is still a true Barbizon girl!
When did you decide you wanted to train and pursue modeling / acting / pageants?
Well, as far as pageants go, I’d always wanted to compete but didn’t think I had what it would take. I never missed a Miss America televised event and secretly dreamed of wearing a beautiful gown and crown! Honestly, it was my mother who decided that I should model or do something ANYTHING girly, as I was a bit of a tomboy in middle school.
What did your Barbizon training teach you?
I had the most statuesque and beautiful instructor, Octavia Gafford, who showed me what poise and sophistication really looked like. I gained confidence in my appearance and my abilities. I was able to see myself as being successful and walk tall in my skin. I embraced my curves and loved the idea of modeling/acting!
What were you like before Barbizon compared to after Barbizon? What did you gain from your Barbizon experience?
TOMBOY to the TENTH power! After graduation I went on to model in Chicago, Detroit, Ohio, New York and LA! I LOVED IT! The confidence that Barbizon gave me is still with me today. I am still amazed that I remember things I was taught, and that it actually worked!! I was able to pay for college and purchased my first new car with my modeling and acting income.
When did you start competing in pageants? Were you surprised when you were crowned or remember how you felt at that moment?
This really makes pageant veterans angry, but my first pageant EVER was in 2014. I ran for Mrs. Michigan and was 2nd Runner Up. I was only going back in 2015 to support a friend, but decided to try one more time…and I WON!! I was so shocked and surprised that I went into the U.G.L.Y. cry and am none too pleased with my crowning moment photos! I felt humbled and honored. Amazed that a mother of two, who was older than all the other contestants, REALLY WON!! As an African American it was very special as well, since I later found out only one other woman of color had held the title.
You are so involved in your community, working with so many organizations; can you tell us what it’s like to be the reigning Mrs. Michigan America?
Very busy for sure. The beauty of the Mrs. side is that they realize you have family and work obligations, so you do as little or as much as you’d like. I wanted to get out there and show women what was possible and that it’s not over just because you said “I Do”. I’m also a motivational speaker and entrepreneur. I love the work I do in my community and recently my town erected a sign welcoming visitors to the “Home of Mrs. Michigan America”. That was pretty darn cool!
Let’s talk about fashion: how would you describe your style?
I’m edgy, but professional. Flashy and covered. Love a good heel and jeans, cute purse and all the jewelry I can wear without tipping over! As Mrs. Michigan (and a wife/mother) I don’t do super short skirts or really low cut tops. I want my family to be proud of me not embarrassed. I LOVE to watch for new fashions and I’m not afraid to try something. However, I have one rule. Just because it’s made in my size doesn’t mean I have to or need to be wearing it!
Name ONE BEAUTY PRODUCT you cannot live without.
SHEA BUTTER and COCONUT OIL!! I couldn’t do just one. Shea butter is for my skin. Coconut for my hair!
Any beauty secrets?
Get your rest! You may be able to pull all nighters when you’re young but if you don’t get your sleep in, your eyes will tell the story later. I LOVE hearing that I don’t “look” my age! DRINK WATER! DRINK WATER! Oh, and DRINK WATER!
Any fashion and style tips you’re willing to reveal?
I never leave home without earrings. Even if it’s just to drop the kids off at school. Earrings, cute shades or my glasses, and cap. I find cute hats and caps that I can put on quick if my hair is not cooperating or my Glam Squad is off duty! My jewelry line is Premier Designs High Fashion Jewelry and I’ve been a distributor with them for the past 13 years. I LOVE helping women find their accessory personality and allow them to see how a necklace can help take off 10 pounds! I love helping women to look their best. Her fashion sense may not mirror mine but we all have the desire to look and feel good about ourselves. When they find out that 60% of their wardrobe budget should be spent on a
ccessories, they are amazed! I can show them how to mix and match 5 pieces with different jewelry and accessories for a week’s worth of outfits! I minister to them in that way and when they laugh and learn, they book shows and buy jewelry! You can view the entire line at http://shaylett.mypremierdesigns.com.
What advice do have for Barbizon alumni pursuing a career in the modeling and entertainment industry?
Listen to your instructors. Learn your craft. Be the best at what you do. Be true to yourself and keep a network of true friends/family. The industry is tough, but you CAN do it! If something doesn’t feel right for you, it’s OK to say no. There’ll be other opportunities. Your friends and family will be there to help you when it seems like all you’re hearing is no. They will also be your biggest cheerleaders when you FINALLY get the call you’ve been waiting on. Even if you are just doing this to build confidence or gain self-esteem, Barbizon is the REAL DEAL!
Barbizon grads have gone on to do so many things in modeling, acting and so much more. Experience Barbizon for yourself. Schedule an audition to learn more about our program.