By: Janice Malone
It seems that telephones ringing with opportunities haven’t stopped since Megan Olivia Piphus was crowned the new Miss Black Tennessee USA 2013 (Miss Black Capital City USA 2013). The beautiful and talented scholarship pageant winner is a multi-talented triple threat performer—singing, acting and ventriloquism. Currently a junior at Vanderbilt University, Megan is equally as talented in the areas of academics and in leadership. Ms. Piphus graduated valedictorian of her high school class back in her hometown of Cincinnati. As a college student, she’s on the executive boards for the Black Student Alliance, the National Black MBA Association, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
As the newly crowned Miss Black Tennessee USA, Megan’s platform is “Color My Dream, “a program that she’s very passionate about. The mission of Color My Dream is to empower children by recognizing their talents, and to use those talents to benefit others in their future. Through mentoring and advising, Color My Dream reaches children regardless of their race, creed, or gender. “I believe that every child is given something unique that sets them apart from everyone else, like the Biblical story of Joseph’s coat of many colors,” says Ms. Piphus. “I also believe that every child should have the opportunity to use his/her unique skills and talents to contribute to society and the world.”
This past summer Megan was an intern in New York City for the Telemundo Spanish broadcasting network. But being a part of the television world is nothing new for our new Miss Black Tennessee USA. It was only last month when the whole world saw Megan perform her unique ventriloquism act on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2008 Megan was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show’s: The World’s Smartest and Most Talented Kids. She now has a team of puppets but uses seven regularly in her shows. Her puppets “Baby June Bug” and “Princess” the opera singing cat, are top favorites among children. Megan’s high school graduation speech, featuring her puppet, “George,” became a hit on YouTube soon after its release.
In 2011, after submitting a video showcasing her talent in musical ventriloquism, Megan was chosen to be a contestant on America’s Got Talent YouTube Contest and as a result gained national exposure. We had a recent chat with this multi-dimensionally talented young lady about her career and her life so far as Miss Black Tennessee USA 2013.
TRIBUNE: What was it like when you appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno just last month?
M. PIPHUS: “It was an amazing experience! About a week before I was on the show I received an email asking if I was available to appear on the show. Even though it was during my exams week, I changed my schedule a little and agreed to fly out to L.A. to do the show. I was part of a segment call Can You Thrill Bill? The segment gives you 45 seconds to perform in front of William Shatner and then he decides whether or not he’s thrilled. Luckily for me he was thrilled! And later on backstage, I saw Mr. Shatner and he said directly to me that I did a great job. That was quite exciting.
TRIBUNE: How did you first get interested in becoming a ventriloquist?
M. PIPHUS: “I’ve been doing ventriloquism for ten years. I started when I was 10 years old. I was on the puppet team at church as part of the children’s ministry. The whole team attended a conference to really learn how to be a puppet team, and how to make designs and so many other things. By the end of the conference our team leader asked all of us what type of classes we were most interested in. My answer was ventriloquism. So when I got home I told my parents how interested I was in learning it. And within about two weeks of practicing with a little toy dummy to some of my classmates at school, I did a performance during the 6th grade morning devotional. It wasn’t too long after that when I did a performance for our church and I just continued to expand it from there.”
TRIBUNE: Tell us about your experience of being on The Oprah Show in 2008.
M. PIPHUS: “I originally posted a video of me to their website. At the time she was doing a showcase on her site of people with various talents. They later took some of the talent videos from the site and aired them on her show. So they later requested several videos from me and they ended up airing one of them on the actual Oprah show.”
TRIBUNE: So what inspired you to enter the Miss Black Tennessee pageant?
M. PIPHUS: “I met a former representative from the pageant. She explained to me that it was mostly a scholarship pageant and that really got my interest. I was also impressed with all of the positive opportunities Miss Black USA winner does with her title after she wins.”
TRIBUNE: You’ve got so many diverse talents. After college graduation, do you plan on going into the corporate world or pursue a career in entertainment?
M. PIPHUS: “It will definitely be in entertainment but I’m not sure if it will be in performance or behind the scenes. I really love performing but I also have a strong interest in what goes on behind the scenes, such as in marketing, management, copyright laws, etc. I really would like to work in the actual business side of the entertainment world.”
TRIBUNE: You mentioned entertainment copyright laws, so does that mean law school may be in your plans too?
M. PIPHUS: “Definitely. I may not actually practice law but having that background would be a definite asset for me.
TRIBUNE: I understand that you auditioned for the America’s Got Talent show when the producers were here in Nashville a few weeks ago.
M. PIPHUS: “Yes, I was there. I also auditioned for them back when I was only 16. I submitted a video and one day I got a call from them to come to their Miami auditions, where I performed in front of the judges and Nick Cannon. I made it pass the Hollywood round but they never aired it. But the funny thing is when I auditioned last month here, one of the show’s executive producers remembered me from the Miami auditions. He said, ‘Hi, how are you? The last time I saw you, you were just a baby.’ So we both just laughed. I still don’t know if I’ll be chosen or not by the show until next month. If I get the call I will let you and the Tribune readers know. “
TRIBUNE: If you are chosen we would love to do a follow-up story on your journey through the rounds of America’s Got Talent.
Visit Megan’s website at: www.meganpiphus.com