Little Miss African-American Scholarship Pageant goes national (40118)

Late-night host Jay Leno has a larger-than-life personality and a heart that beats, sweetly, to a philanthropic beat. He has a soft spot for women’s causes, and he and his wife have supported a number of them over the years. So it’s no surprise that Leno recently dropped by to surprise Lisa Ruffin and her Little Miss African-American Scholarship Pageant contestants.

He was joined by China Ann McClain, the star of the Disney Channel’s “A.N.T. Farm” and Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the pageant and share the news that this year will have nationwide registration.

Let’s go old-school, rewinding to 1993. That’s when actress/choreographer Ruffin caught the vision that she would create an opportunity to positively impact the lives of aspiring little African-American girls. If not her, then who? If not then, then when?

Her intentions have sincere roots, and her focus was to help young girls of color develop a strong sense of self-esteem and purpose.

Eureka: The pink-infused light bulb went off with a soulful “bling!” and she produced her first Little Miss African-American Scholarship Pageant. And she has never looked back.

It’s 2013, and she has a solid 20 years of success under her belt.

Her pageant has influenced thousands of lives, and several of those little girls are now accomplished women who credit the pageant for having a major role in their development.

Building on the pageant’s success so far, this year Ruffin has opened the registration across all 50 states.

The nationwide registration will select 50 participants between the ages of 6 and 12 for this landmark celebration. New York parents, you can enter your own special little lady for consideration by visiting

Ruffin shares: “I am humbled that God has allowed me to continue to do this work for 20 years now. I’m so proud of all my girls and am so looking forward to this pageant being an extra-special celebration!”

The host for the Little Miss African-American Scholarship Pageant has not been revealed, but past celebrity participation included Laila Ali, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Tarji P. Henson and Chandra Wilson.

The Little Miss African-American Scholarship Pageant will celebrate 20 years of success on Sunday, Aug. 4, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. For more info, contact 818-570-0631 or

If you are interested in registering for the pageant, please include a picture of the contestant with her name, brief information and any available links.