Model is letting her hair down

Baltimorean Mia Herring is a finalist in the SoftSheen-Carson Vixen competition



AT 5 FEET 10 INCHES WITH A milk-chocolate complexion and naturally curly ringlets of dark and light brown highlights, Mia Herring has the look of a model.

And that's what the 25-year-old is banking on as a finalist in the second annual national SoftSheen-Carson Vixen Model Search.

This easygoing and confident West Baltimore native will know in September whether she has the look the hair care company and urban, streetwise fashion magazine is looking for.

"Modeling is second nature for me. I think it's something I'm supposed to do. I know this is it," Herring says hesitantly yet passionately. "I love modeling."

Herring won over 40 others who showcased their sleek relaxed hair, uniquely color-treated tresses or edgy natural hairstyles during a pageant of sorts at June's African-American Heritage Festival at Camden Yards.

The contestants' interview and presentation factored in the judging, and Herring earned a perfect score.

"I wasn't really nervous," she says reflecting on the competition, which is open to women between ages 18 and 30. The five-city model search has stopped in Baltimore, Houston and Atlanta. It continues this month in Philadelphia and next month in Chicago.

A winner will be announced Sept. 16 in New York.

"We basically just looked for originality, healthy hair and overall look," says Michelle Pascal, a spokeswoman from SoftSheen-Carson. "It's not so much like a regular model competition. ... We looked more so at the model's confidence and health of hair."

"Any girl with natural, relaxed or color-treated hair is eligible as long as they do not have weaves or extensions. ... Fake hair is not allowed," says Jada Williams, a spokeswoman for Vibe.

At stake is a grand prize sure to give any wanna-be model career-making exposure: a $5,000 modeling contract with SoftSheen-Carson to appear in online advertisements and campaigns, a "Diva Day" prize of all-day pampering and spa treatments, and a fashion photo shoot for Vibe Vixen magazine.

Herring has years of modeling experience that date back to her days at Walbrook High School.

"I started in my sophomore year doing fashion shows at school and again during my senior year," says Herring, who on this day sat in a comfy chair at her home dressed in a pink crocheted halter-tunic with light-washed jean capris and matching pink flip-flops.

When she graduated, she resolved to become a model and pursued her passion by working for Gemini Models and Talent Group in Gwynn Oak.

She has strutted her stuff in countless shows, one of which won her the title of Baltimore's Top Model in 2004. (This was the qualifying round for UPN's America's Top Model. She didn't make the cut to appear on the television show hosted by model-turned-television host Tyra Banks.)

"Every time I enter a contest ... I do well," she says. "It's like I'm supposed to model. When I'm on the runway, I can't feel anything. I feel like nothing can stop me. I love the runway."

For now, Herring continues to work her 9-to-5 job at Thomson Prometric, administering state board exams. In January, she plans to return to the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County to pursue a degree in computer information systems.

"I know I need something to fall back on," she acknowledges.

Still, Herring is optimistic about her chances of winning her latest pursuit.

"I don't know if [the contest] will help me ... but I truly hope it will," she says. "Everything I do now I hope is an avenue that will help me get into [professional] modeling."


The SoftSheen-Carson Vixen Model Search has made stops at festivals in three cities -- Atlanta, Houston and Baltimore.

The search continues at Philadelphia's Unity Day festival Aug. 20 and then at the African Festival of the Arts in Chicago on Sept. 2.

The finalists include Mia Herring of Baltimore, Jamye Copelin of Atlanta and Colincia Jennings of Houston.

For more information about the competition, go to

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