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Miss Dominican Republic Calls Out Miss Global For Cheating During Competition

Those of us who have been around pageants have either watched or participated in a pageant where we thought the results were skeptical. However, the 2020 Miss Global pageant takes that suspicion to a whole other level! The depth of corruption was beyond belief over the weekend.

This year marked the 8th anniversary for the Miss Global Organization (Photo Cred: Miss Global)

During Saturday’s pageant, held in Oaxaca, Mexico, viewers and contestants astonished by a certain sponsor’s push for Miss Mexico Global, Palmira Ruiz, to win the crown. Apparently, Miss Mexico was treated differently than the other 56 competitors. Speaking with local media following the debacle Miss Dominican Republic 2019, LeslieAnn Padilla said Palmira was treated better than the other competitors throughout the pageant. She claimed, “Mexico was always late to rehearsals and was always absent.” According to her, during the final show all the other contestants were crammed in a small area with no heat and were freezing changing in and out of their competition wear while Miss Mexico was comfortable with her two of her own heated rooms.

According to sources who spoke with Pageants & Prosecco, Miss Mexico Global, Palmira Ruiz, was given special treatment throughout the competition. She was allegedly absent or late to several events. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

LesilieAnn says only her, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Cuba, and Venezuela spoke Spanish. This meant she could understand a lot of what was going on behind the scenes.

During a conversation with Pageants & Prosecco, she told us she overheard a man backstage with Van Pham the CEO and Founder of Miss Global. For safety reasons she chose not to disclose his name or position with the organization. She told Us it was this guy who told Van Pham, if Miss Mexico did not win, they would pull the plug on the entire televised show. LeslieAnn felt the need to call out the man for the unfairness and was threatened if she did not remain quiet!

A true pageant queen, prior to being Miss Dominican Republic Global, LeslieAnn was Miss Latina International USA (Photo Cred: Instagram)

This did not stop Miss Columbia Global, Jesenia Orozco from speaking out on stage during the pageant, “It’s fraud! There is a lot of corruption in Mexico and it’s unfair.” In order to attempt to silence her, staff played music over her protests. In videos from that night you can hear Jesenia saying, “It is disrespectful to all the women that worked hard to be here.” She went on to say the pageant was full of corruption and fraud, and the Miss Global Mexico representatives were giving Latinos a bad name.

However, it is important to know she and the other contestants don’t see the Miss Global organization as the ones to blame, “it should be on Miss Global Mexico.”

This photo of Miss Columbia Global, Jesenia was taken moments before her now viral on stage protest. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

So, who was behind the scheme to crown Mexico as Miss Global? According to those close to the competition, it was one of the host country’s sponsor, Ramiro Gutierrez, who pressured the Miss Global organization to crown Miss Mexico the title; going so far as to threaten to cancel the entire broadcast if she was not selected. When the Miss Global Organization refused to meet his demands, Gutierrez carried out his threat and pulled the plug during the live televised broadcast, ending the pageant without a winner being crowned and before onstage questions began.

In the days following, Van Pham issued a public statement on behalf of the Miss Global Organization denouncing this behavior. He asserted that, while Guiterrez was one of the country’s sponsor, he is not affiliated with Miss Global. He expressed his support of Miss Columbia’s public protest onstage and said Guiterrez needed “to uphold the rules and procedures that Miss Global has always honored.” The public statement ended with the announcement of the winner, Karolína Kokešová, Miss Czech Republic (who reportedly had the highest score at the time of the interruption) and the organization’s commitment to maintain the integrity of their pageants in the future.

You can see his full statement here:

The public statement was made the same night of the 2019 Miss Global Pageant. (Photo Cred: Miss Global)

What do you think about the events and public outrage at Miss Global? Tell your thoughts below…

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Remembering Kobe Bryant – Titleholders Share Their Love for the Legend

Everyone is in mourning right now. Kobe Bryant impacted more than the sports world, he touched everyone through the game and his love of basketball. Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, pilot Ara Zobayan, Mamba girls’ basketball assistant coach Christina Mauser, eighth grader Payton Chester and her mother Sarah Chester along with Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, a teammate of Gianna’s, passed away on Sunday.

A moment the world will never forget and a name which will always be yelled when tossing a wad into the trash can. For many, like myself, this news comes with great sudden sadness as he represented who you can be if you have the drive, courage, God-like confidence with enough humbleness wrapped into his famous Mamba mentality. His tenacity, determination and motivation I am sure has been put in a few of our journals and on our vision boards as we prepared for that next level of competition.

Our timelines were flooded with love for the NBA Legend and his daughter GiGi. Similar to Los Angeles and the world, the pageant community as well is in mourning:

Remember, you are more than what you do (being an amazing titleholder), it’s who you are in Kobe’s famous words. As a pageant family, let’s look to Kobe’s legacy and continue to push the definition of excellence in our communities, our industry and on stage.

Love yours truly,

-B.

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Sisters By Blood and The Crown!

Pageant history was made in Omaha, Nebraska when Megan Swanson was crowned Miss Nebraska USA 2020. You see, Megan’s younger sister, Allie, is the current reigning Miss Nebraska and just competed at Miss America in December. Meaning both major state titles are held by the Swanson sisters! And they both competed at Miss America.

Megan shared her euphoria with Pageants & Prosecco, “I can’t even describe the feeling of having these next few months as LITERAL sister queens with my real-life sister.” This is not the first time history was made by these Swanson sisters. Both were also the first pair of sisters to win the coveted Miss Nebraska (MAO) title. Megan said her sister’s epic win last summer was “just the icing on the cake.” Things got even more serendipitous when Megan said the two won their titles wearing each other’s gown! Megan explained how this was not done on purpose, “it was what we had!”

Miss USA 2020 won’t be Megan’s first time on a national stage. She was previously Miss Nebraska 2014 and competed at Miss America. (Photo Cred: Jessielyn Palumbo)

Allie showed her excitement over her older sister’s Miss Nebraska USA win on social media, “can you believe that this is real life and that our dream come true?” Both of the sisters will reign together for the next 6 months. Allie expressed her gratitude, “still can’t get over how good God is!”

Last June, Allie won Miss Nebraska 2019 at the North Platte HS Performing Arts Center in North Platte, Nebraska. The 6’2 beauty shared on social media after she won she believed she had a shot at the Miss America crown because she’s a “powerhouse that will make you smile, laugh, think, and learn to love yourself for who you are.”

Allie’s social impact initiative for Miss America 2020 was CyberSmartz: Protecting Yourself in a Digital World. (Photo Cred: XYZ Media)

Pageantry unsurprisingly brought these two very close. Megan gushed about her sister, “she’s the best Miss Nebraska we’ve ever had, and almost doubled the organization in a year.” She went on to say how her little sister Allie, inspires her to be a better person each and every day. Megan even called Allie “part of my WHY to be Miss USA.”

Miss Nebraska USA Megan with her little sister Allie! Allie was crowned Miss Nebraska (MAO) last June. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

So, what did the sisters do once they were both crowned? Of course, they went on a sister-sister media tour across the state. There is also more in the works, so be sure to follow both sisters on social media. Allie wants the public to know the sisters are only just beginning, “look out world… Here the Swanson sisters come!”

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Miss Black America Ryann Richardson Endorses Mayor Pete Buttigieg for President

Pageantry turned political this week when Miss Black America Ryann Richardson posted her endorsement for Pete Buttigieg as our next President, a first for the pageant industry. In what’s otherwise considered a taboo topic, not just in pageantry but also at the Thanksgiving table, Richardson decided to share her thoughts on who she believed should be next in line for the Oval Office.

Traditionally, contestants are encouraged to keep their political views to themselves or answer an onstage question very middle ground with no bias in a bipartisan-like manner. It’s always been considered not pageant like and separatism in fact if a titleholder expressed even what her party affiliation was because of the fear of alienating the opposing parties and not being able to reach everyone at appearances during her reign. There was fear of missing out on deals, contracts or butting heads with directors if a titleholder was too one sided in her thinking and expressed them in public her crown and sash.

Miss Black America Ryann Richardson took to social media to officially endorese Pete Buttigieg as President. The pair met during an event for the Congressional Black Caucus last year. Photo Cred: Ryann Richardson

In a first for this new 2020 era of the definition of who a titleholder is, she decided to not only express her views but officially go on record to endorse and encourage her followers to vote for Mayor Pete at the polls.

We reached out to Ryann about her decision and speaking to Pageants & Prosecco about her thought-piece, she said she felt it was important to add her voice in the 2020 election cycle conversation. Not simply because she is holding a national title but rather out of pure civic duty and what she explains is responsibility to her community, “You could argue that Miss Black America, because of it origins as an act of protest, does exist in a unique space in the ‘pageant world.'” She continues,

Richardson served as Miss District of Columbia USA in 2017 when Kara McCullogh won Miss USA. She’s competed in the Miss America system & was Miss Philadelphia in 2009. Photo: Instagram

With 20K followers on IG for this TEDx Speaker & one of the youngest honorees on the Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America list, Richardson says it is ultimately irresponsible of her to sit out here voiceless “when I believe our community is facing a critical opportunity in this election.” Calling the move to speak up an important one to prevent anyone who’s listening from making the wrong decision at the polls.

In the op-ed she wrote for The Grio, Richardson talked about why she chose the millennial veteran, pointing to his honesty addressing his weak spots as the Mayor of South Bend, his leadership and intellect. Her endorsement might help Buttigieg’s campaign which is looking at dismal polling numbers among Black voters.

According to the lastest Washington Post/Ipsos poll, 21% of Black voters right now view Buttigieg as ‘unfavorable.’ The highest in the crowded Democratic nomination party, besides newly-entered billionaire Mike Bloomberg (25%). With the Iowa Democratic caucuses in just a few weeks, some fear he might not reach enough of these voters in time to nab this critical state for any of the 13 candidates. These Iowa caucus’ results are going to shed light on where they all stand in the Black community’s mind. On the other side, he does lead in Black votes 57-4 if it were up to them choosing between him or 45 for round 2.

Photo Cred: Ryann Richardson

“It’s fair to say my opinion may be an unpopular one … for now. It would surely be easier to keep my head down and not weigh in. But I’ve never been afraid to be first and I was raised to live in my truth.”

Richardson for TheGrio.com

She wrote about how growing up in D.C. gave her a first hand look at the voting process as a kid visiting the election polls with her parents and watching each new President get sworn in every 4 years.

However as she grew up and the realities of oppression and her “double strike” as a woman first and then as a person of color (or vice versa) became real, she writes, “With each election, I intuitively knew how my country would move, even when it was counter to my own desires.”

It took courage for Richardson to share her political views and she admittedly said she was sick of seeing hatred being spewd out online and was considering “clock[ing] out on America for a while to preserve my own mental health.” Who wouldn’t blame her? Twitter is full of constant dialogue, discussions and the true thoughts of keyboard happy anonymous trolls just saying anything now a days.

“The attitudes of the basest corners of our society, once fodder for faceless Twitter trolls, are now promoted from verified accounts with names and Congressional seats and endorsements from the highest office in the land.”

What do you think about titleholders endorsing a candidate, whether local, state or national? You can read the full article here and comment your thoughts below.

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Miss Earth USA 2018, Yashvi Aware, Sets Sights on Miss D.C.USA Crown

Miss Earth USA 2018, Yashvi Aware, officially announced she is competing at the Miss D.C. USA 2020 pageant as Miss Mount Vernon USA 2020. Yashvi shared the news of her new title through a video posted on her social media page to her followers. The pageant is set to take place this month, January 18-19th.

Yashvi’s video post about her “special announcement” of her 2020 Miss Mount Vernon USA title. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

The reason for Yashvi’s late announcement was due to recovering from surgery, “I decided really last minute to compete because I was healing from my ankle surgery.”

Yashvi’s ankle also gave her a little bit of a struggle during her reign as Miss Earth USA and has had multiple surgeries on it, landing in the hospital twice while competing at the international pageant. At one point during her reign, she was in a cast and needed crutches to walk. Despite her injury, Yashvi is pushing through in her recovery and is working hard to prepare for the Miss DC competition, “I’m running again, wearing heels, and volunteering all over the district.”

Aware in the hospital during the 2018 Miss Earth pageant (Photo Cred: Facebook)

Yashvi was crowned Miss Earth USA 2018, on July 15, 2018, at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center located in Virginia. The Miss Earth USA and Miss Earth pageants are centered around environmentalism and is based off the concept of Beauty With A Purpose. This means contestants should not only prepare to walk the runway, but to be able to speak about an environmental cause they are passionate about as well.

One of Aware’s headshots as Miss Earth USA 2018 (Photo Cred: Instagram)

After being crowned Miss Earth USA, Yashvi traveled the world, modeled in New York Fashion Week, volunteered, and spoke about her environmental platform “The Future is Green.”

Her platform choice was due to the fact she wanted to be a “more responsible citizen.” Although winning the crown presented her a lot of opportunities, she had to make hard sacrifices in order to fully commit to her reign, “I gave up so much to be here at Miss Earth including my real job and education as a psychologist, because I’ve always believed in my greater purpose to serve others.”

Yashvi volunteering during her reign as Miss Earth USA 2018 (Photo Cred: Facebook)

Yashvi’s inspiring fighter mentality seemed to stick with her post-crown as she somehow finds the time to prepare for the pageant and plan a wedding. Yashvi and her fiancé, Ashu Suri, got engaged August 31, 2018 in Washington D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Ashu made Yashvi believe they were going to a photoshoot which she said was, “Not out of the ordinary in my life.”

Suri and Aware moments after their engagement (Photo Cred: Facebook)

The surprises continued, “Somehow I was blindfolded and when I opened my eyes, this handsome man was on his knee asking me to marry him surrounded by all our friends, plus a bunch of tourists cheering us on!” To this day Yashvi claims it was, “The best day of my life.”

In her video announcement Yashvi thanked her followers and asked them for continued support as she prepares for the competition, “Please continue following my journey, thank you all so much for the support you’ve given me this past year since I’ve been recovering.”

Photo of Aware in her Miss Mount Vernon 2020 crown and sash (Photo Cred: Instagram)

The 2020 Miss D.C. USA pageant is set to take place at the Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Energy Center from 2:00-8:00 PM, January 18-19th. Interviews are scheduled for Saturday, January 18th. The rest of the preliminaries will take place on Sunday, January 19th at 2:00 PM.

Finals for Miss D.C. USA is on Sunday, January 19th at 8:00 PM. Will Yashvi win the coveted Miss D.C. USA 2020 crown? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Former Miss Teen USA Named New Catfish CoHost

The world of social media & pageantry combine on MTV tonight as former Miss Teen USA, Kamie Crawford makes her debut as the newest cohost of the popular MTV docu-series, Catfish.

Crawford announced the news to her followers on Wednesday. She will cohost all episodes of the new season with longtime host and founder, Nev Schulman.

Crawford is replacing beloved Catfish cameraman Max Joseph. She said she had to pray during the taping of the first episode because things get heated.
(Photo Cred: Instagram)

When Crawford was initially invited on the show to guest host in September 2018, she first thought it was a joke, “I thought I was being Catfished.” However, she later accepted the invitation after realizing the offer was indeed real.

Crawford was a guest cohost for several episodes on the show last season and loved every minute of it,

“All of the support I got from fans of the show was amazing, but I was just happy to be there for as long as they would have let me.”
In July 2019, Crawford received a call from Schulman asking her if she wanted to be a part of the show fulltime as the new cohost. She was elated saying, “Of course, I wanted to shout it from the roof tops.”

She is replacing longtime cohost, Max Joseph, who left the show to focus on his filmmaking career. Crawford made a point in her post to ensure her followers she is not trying to replace him, “I hope I can make him, Nev, and Catfish fans proud as we move into season 8 and beyond!”

Catfish’s official announcement of Crawford becoming the new cohost. Former Miss USA, Deshauna Barber certainly approves of their decision. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

Crawford was crowned Miss Teen USA on July 24th, 2010 at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, representing as Miss Maryland Teen USA. Upon being crowned, she won a $100,000 scholarship, moved to New York City sharing an apartment with Miss Universe Ximena Navarrete and Miss USA Rima Fakih.

After her reign as Miss Teen USA, Crawford enrolled in classes at the New York Film Academy. Her time there led her into the world of acting, modeling and hosting, which eventually led her to the MTV hit show, Catfish.

Crawford being crowned Miss Teen USA 2010 at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas. (Photo Cred: Miss Universe)

Catfish began airing in 2012 featuring Nev & Max. The two came up with the idea for the show following Schulman’s very own catfish experience.

In 2007, he met and fell in love with a woman named “Megan” online. Over the course of 7 months, he and Megan exchanged text messages and even talked on the phone. However, everything fell apart when Schulman finally met Megan in person. Megan turned out to be Angela! Several years later, in 2010, the documentary, Catfished, was released featuring footage of his catfish encounter with Angela/Megan.

Following the documentary’s release, Schulman’s DMs was bombarded with people sharing similar experiences asking for his help. This inspired him and longtime friend and camera operator Joseph to create hit the show. Debuting with 2.7 millions viewers during it’s very first episode.

The MTV docu-series is still going strong after 7 seasons of success. Season 8 premieres tonight, January 8th at 8:00 p.m. EST. and will be Crawford’s debut as the new fulltime cohost of Catfish.

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Miss America Fans Drag Org For Sharing Negative Article On Their Facebook Page

No doubt the Leadership team at Miss America are scrambling right now after Miss America fans (and critics) gave the MAO front office the read of their lives on Sunday after someone on their social media team shared an article from The List, The Untold Truth of Miss America 2020 Winner Camille Schrier.

Even though MAO didn’t provide the info or pictures for the article, fans still dragged them for this picture featured. Photo Cred: Instagram

In the article, the writer Blaire Erskine called the MAO system sketchy and posted a hyperlink to another article on it’s site Sketchy Things Everyone Just Ignores About Miss America written by another writer Shira Danan. The Sketchy Things article, dated during the Sam Haskell era, talks about the system’s racist history of banning women of African descent from competing, organizers telling Miss America 1945 Beth Meyerson (a daughter of Russian and Jewish immigrants) to change her last name to sound less Jewish, Vanessa Williams’ saga and a handful of other negative press MAO endured over their storied history.

Grab a glass and tune in to the Pageants & Prosecco podcast available on all digital streaming platforms.

In the now-deleted article shared on the MAO official Facebook page, Erskine takes statements from Schrier’s interviews with the BBC, her social media captions, the Miss Virginia website, a handful of other media outlets including VCU News, the school paper for Virginia Commonwealth University, the school Schrier is currently studying at for her doctorate in pharmacy and twists her words around to sound as if Miss America is bashing her 2.0 systems’ former life during the 1.0 time.

The article claims Schrier was not even interested in competing for the title under it’s traditional categories and format. She’s also quoted as saying she does not see Miss America as a beauty pageant anymore.

Camille is quoted as saying she only began competing locally after MAO changed to their 2.0 format. A move many took as not paying homage to the pageant’s foundation and a disregard to the contestants who competed in swimsuits. Photo Cred: Miss America Organization

The comment section exploded with people immediately criticizing the MAO social media handlers for sharing an article that arguably does not put them in a positive light. Many people, still scorned at the way the competition was held last month, expressed their utter done-ness with Miss America 2.0. Some felt by MAO sharing this article, it’s the organization’s way of slapping the previous titleholders crowned under 1.0 in the faces and doing an about face heading into a 2.0 tragedy right before it’s 100th year anniversary.

The 100th year anniversary of the Miss America competition is in September 2021. Photo Cred: Miss America Organization

Other comments came at the definition of who is a scientist/biochemist considering Camille is still in school, while others said crowning a scientist is no new feat in the pageant world and her talent was “an elementary school level” demonstration. Some people even went as far as saying her “unusual” talent should not be a media talking point when many contestants train years for their artistic displays i.e. dancing, baton twirling, piano etc.

Fans are still debating if sciences experiments and demos are deemed Miss America talent worthy based of skill level. Schrier won the Miss America Preliminary Talent Award. Photo Cred: B. Vartan Boyajian/MAO

The overall theme of the fans were how disappointed they are in MAO’s PR department sharing an article of this nature in the first place with many people questioning the organization’s motives to share media which condescends the pageant’s barely-recent 1.0 past and the dismissal of the contestants who competed before Gretchen took the helms.

However their PR team seemed to have scrolled through the comments and jumped on deleting the shared article off their Facebook page. Now to see if they are going to release a statement about the fuss made or sweep this little incident under the rug. Time will tell.

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What it means to be Black, Beautiful & A Queen in a 2020 Beauty Pageant

Cheryl Browne won Miss Iowa in June 1970 becoming the first African America contestant to compete for Miss America. It would be 13 years later with Vanessa Williams’ win in 1983, the first Black woman is crowned the national title.

I don’t know if the $5M crown was bobby pinned all the way down on Queen Zozibini before the great-as-expected social media frenzy kicked off like a starter gun in a 100 meter dash featuring Usain Bolt. People all over were trying to hide their inner racism by questioning why so many Black people, mainly women, were so excited to see a contestant like South Africa “finally” get crowned.

Without shedding light on too much of their commentary, some of the comments spoke about how we should look past skin color and admire her for her answers instead during the competition. Others said Zozibini’s look is more in line with IMG’s “brand” i.e. the increase in women of color being crowned since they took over the organization’s management in 2015. Other trolls question the “rally cry” Black Girl Magic and stated it was taking steps backwards from Martin Luther King Jr’s work to integrate among each other.

@Zozitunzi on Instagram

While no one is wrong in genuinely looking to gain more insight into a Black woman’s mind, especially those of a darker complexion, to understand the even more complex background of what is consider beautiful in both the Black culture and in the white world. However, some of these VERY same people are the ones imprinting into young children’s mind what their typical ideal standard of beauty looks like and for a long period of time it was not how our current Miss Universe looks.

It was at this point the crown was secured!

From the dawn of time, Black women have been competing against a European idea of beauty. Straight hair, slim nose, fair or lighter skin; in pretty much every culture with darker skin people,women are subconsciously taught lighter skin is better and prettier. This leads to the infamous skin bleaching we’ve seen with some celebs.

Times that with a particular hair curl also being discriminated against from your very own mother for years until you took ownership of your scalp around the same time you signed up for your first credit card. Times this again by entering a beauty pageant dominated by blondes with blue eyes winning for decades before they even ALLOWED a women of African descent to compete in their system. Enter infamous Rule #7.

Watching our new Miss Universe grace the stage so elegantly and speaking up for young girls’ leadership, education and self-perception is a significant and historic barrier that’s long been waiting to be broken. It took Deshauna Barber’s final walk in her full 4c afro glory for Zozibini to run Sunday night. (And probably the all-female selection committee) Kara giving us her bountiful hair full of curls made us change the way we see scientists and Cheslie is doing the same in the courtroom.

Black women have been slowly integrating the pageant systems with our true authentic self and some of the features are becoming more accepted, like the all-curly hair and fros we’ve been seeing lately. Several Black women would simply get overlooked in any pageant system wearing their tighter kinks or afros and being labeled “too black” for what is often a non-diverse judging panel. It’s a common coaching tip to minimize your Blackness in several ways to appeal more to the white judges:

Never forget.

wear white. Red is too dramatic and shows you are too commanding, intimidating, too much dare I say, aggressive. Pull your hair up in a bun or half-updo and away from your face. This shows the judges your face more and hides your hair. Or opt to wear a straight long weave, frankly, the easiest option for a week long competition away from home for quick maintenance. All of the past Black Miss Universes won with straight hair. Chelsea’s was big and high in a more Afrocentric way. However, everyone’s hair was high and close to God back then.

On Sunday, a woman wearing her naturally tightly coiled 4c hair had a $5M dollar crown placed on her head in front of 3.8 million people live on television and the world was calling her the universe’s most beautiful person.

Oprah invites Miss Universe to speak with her students at her all-girl academy in Henley on Klip, Gauteng Province, South Africa.

Can you imagine how powerful that moment is for a 13-year-old girl who was just bullied for having that very same skin complexion? Or for the thousands of Black pageants contestants who try year after year to compete in the same system that has no former titleholders who look like them. Texas just crowned their first Black women in the Miss America system. A system founded in 1921, 98 years ago.

With her natural hair, shea butter whipped brown skin and public speaking skills in line with other women leaders of our generation, Zozibini displayed love for her culture all during the competition. She wore tradition African prints and spoke boldly about women’s right to education especially since the apartheid ended in South Africa. Typically, this would have been told to lessen down because it’s “too black” but on Sunday like she said, “that ends tonight.”

Hail our new Queen! How many times do I have to sing Brown Skin Girl to get skin this smooth??

Sidenote: I spoke more about how, during this time of silent discrimination against women of color, Black pageants rose in popularity.

Unfortunately, they are several horror stories from contestants, including myself, about our experiences competing in these systems. Despite the negative press, sometimes these systems made for us, by us is a woman’s only true shot at becoming a national titleholder.

It automatically evens the playing field and eliminates the bias of racial beauty while becoming an inclusive environment for like-minded Black women on the same mission to do good philanthropy, invest in their education and compete for a crown. Very few other clubs/hobbies/church groups have driven women in them who understand your desire to drop $800 on a new couture gown instead of paying your rent. Many of my adult friendships are from competing in pageants open to women of African descent.

I spoke more about this cognitive dissonance dilemma among Black contestants on the Pageants & Prosecco Podcast.

Grab your glass of wine and tune in 🙂 Available on all streaming platforms.

-B

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South Africa wins Miss Universe!

YAY!!! Like many people of color, watching South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi compete all night was a breath of fresh air as she easily graced the stage and dominated each question and phase of competition that came her way. With this historic win, Tunzi is the third South African to take the crown since Demi Leigh-Nel Peters. She is also the first Black woman to win the award since Leila Lopes in 2011.

During the 2019 Miss Universe pageant, Tunzi spoke on the importance of education and how her grandmother gave her her first book even though her grandmother was not allowed to receive an education. She also used her platform Sunday night to talk about what holding the crown would mean for those looking up to her during her reign.

During her final onstage question she spoke on the importance young girls taking up space and to hold more leadership positions.

“I think we are the most powerful human beings in the world.” – Tunzi

We’ll be watching you Miss Universe!

22 Things to Know About Olivia Pura, Miss Illinois USA 2020

  1. What did the journey to your crown look like? I decided to compete in Miss Illinois USA 2020 in May of 2019. It was something I had thought about since I held the Teen title… but I finally felt in my heart that the timing was right! That summer, I was working full-time as a research assistant and studying for the GRE. Any and all of my free time was used for pageant prep – which made for a pretty busy summer. Having such a good rhythm in my preparation made it feel so effortless and, before I knew it, pageant weekend came! I felt a genuinely calmness while competing and soaked in every moment. 
  2. What tips would you give to pageant competitors? My biggest advice is so start preparing early, slow and steady. There’s nothing worse than stressing before or during a pageant weekend – it takes away from the magic of the experience! If you’re competing on a budget, I highly recommend checking out YouTube for pageant prep help. There are plenty interview tips, walking videos and makeup tutorials available for free. Most importantly – be YOU and have FUN. What’s meant to be yours will be yours, whether it’s winning the title or not!
  3. Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? Cold brew is my favorite drink! I’m a coffee lover through and through. If I’m indulging in a glass of wine, it’s definitely red – the best I’ve ever had is from the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, CA.
  4. Dream pageant gown designer? Sherri Hill made my dream gown come to life for Miss USA! She is not only a talented designer but a kind, caring woman. My favorite international designer is Valdrin Sahiti! 
  5. What are your makeup go-to’s for a quick beat? If I’m short on time, I throw on Image Skincare’s tinted SPF, a little bit of concealer (Tarte Shape Tape is my favorite!), Glossier Boy Brow and Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam.
Prior to becoming Miss Illinois USA 2020, Olivia was Miss Teen Illinois 2016, where she placed in the Top 15 at Miss Teen USA!

5. What are your makeup go to’s for a quick beat?: If I’m short on time, I throw on Image Skincare’s tinted SPF, a little bit of concealer (Tarte Shape Tape is my favorite!), Glossier Boy Brow, and Glossier Cloud Paint in “Beam.”

6. What was your first pageant competition like? My first competition was Miss Illinois Teen USA 2016. I went in so clueless and imperfect, yet excited and grateful. The friendships I met that weekend, several of them being returning contestants, were all incredibly kind and offered a lot of advice. The whole weekend, I focused on having FUN! Going into finals night, I didn’t think even for a second that I would win. Imagine the shock I felt when I was called the winner! It was a giant blessing that truly changed my life’s course forever.

7. Current read? Right now, I’m reading The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.

8. Which portion of competition is your fave? Though it’s nerve-wracking at times, interview is my favorite portion of competition! It’s where the judges really get to see who you are and what type of titleholder you would be. Prepping for pageant interviews has allowed me to be a better, more confident interviewer and public speaker in general!

9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Without a doubt – the moon!

10. How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life? Prioritization and organization are key! It’s important to be honest with yourself and know when to say no. This was really hard for me at first.  I also keep a bullet journal where I jot down my daily thoughts, keep track of short-term and long-term goals and managed my weekly to-do lists. Bullet journaling also allows me to let out my inner artist and have fun with planning!

Olivia is the oldest of three siblings in her family, and is first generation Polish American.

11. Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you.: “Just keep swimming!” – Dory, Finding Nemo

12. Would you consider yourself a hero? I view my accomplishments with nothing but humility and gratitude. The reality is, I wouldn’t be where I am without my heroes. However, there is no better compliment than to be told that I am a role model to someone.  I choose to live my life as though I am someone’s hero and strive to set the best example always!

13. Bedtime routine? TAKE. MY. MAKEUP. OFF. ALWAYS. I have acne-prone skin, so I start by making sure my face is clean and moisturized at night (witch hazel, CeraVe SA Lotion and tea tree oil are my favorite products). My favorite nights are spent sipping a mug of caffeine-free herbal tea and snuggling into my massive pile of throw pillows. Minimizing my nighttime phone use was a big 2020 goal for me – once I’m in bed, I put it on Do Not Disturb and leave it locked!

14. What artists are on your playlist? My most-played artists are definitely TroyBoi, Odesza, and deadmau5. If I’m not listening to EDM, I’m probably listening to Aminé, Hozier or Dan + Shay.

15. How did you decide on your evening gown? My Miss USA gown was actually the first and only gown I tried on at the Sherri Hill showroom in Austin! I immediately fell in love with it. The color, cut, neckline and beading were all BETTER than what I had envisioned for myself. When you know, you know!

Olivia is a senior at Northwestern University and is a double major in biochemistry and Slavic languages & literatures. (Photo cred: Miss USA)

16. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Cool Mom Friend. I’m just as likely to plan a fancy brunch in the city with friends as I am to throw on a pair of crocs and spend a night watching romcoms. No matter my mood, I’m always looking out for those around me!

17. Favorite junk food? My goodness, it’s impossible to pick just one! I have a CRAZY sweet tooth. If I HAVE to pick… I’d say Nutella. But oreos, donuts, peanut M&Ms, and Portillo’s chocolate cake are all honorable mentions! 

18. One global issue that tugs at your heart: While the feminist movement has taken unbelievable strides in the United States, there are still many countries around the world where women are considered inferior to men. I want to see a world where women are truly equals and share the same rights: access to education, voice in their governments and respect in leadership roles. 

 19. What is your favorite movie? I absolutely adore all of the Harry Potter movies; my favorite is the Chamber of Secrets.

20. Who would you consider to be your hero? My parents are always have been and always will be my heroes. Both of them left Poland, their home country, when they were younger than I currently am. Watching them pour themselves into our family in hopes of giving me and my siblings the life they always wanted fuels my daily drive! I am in awe of their work ethic, compassion and fearlessness. 

21. How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? I love to throw on a giant Tshirt, crack open a pint of Halo Top (chocolate chip cookie dough is my favorite) and watch YouTube. I’m actually not a big Netflix gal and prefer watching tutorials, vlogs and DIY videos!

22. Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date? My perfect date is September 2, 2019 – the day I won the title of Miss Illinois USA! Could I ask for anything better than that? 

Catch up with Olivia on this week’s episode of Pageants & Prosecco, the Podcast. She shares her story about her time competing for Miss Teen USA, how she and the other former teen titleholders mentally prepare to compete as Miss, her relationship with the Vanbros management and other state titleholders working with them, what her reality is like being a first-generations American and why she chose to pursue the STEM field at one of the country’s top schools.

22 Things to Know About Shannon Jackowski, United States of America’s Mrs.

1. What did the journey to your crown look like? I have been competing in pageants for over 10 years. I started in 2009 when I was preparing for a Regional baton twirling competition. I wanted to get my new dress on the floor and get some nerves out before my baton competition. Little did I know that was the beginning of my pageant journey.

2. What tips would you give to pageant competitors? Have fun!!! That was one of the biggest changes I did for this year that really helped my journey. I did not focus on the other competitors as competitors but other accomplished women who are striving towards their goals.

3. Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? I typically like semi-sweet sparkling wines, my favorite brand is Stella Rosa and of course I love me some Prosecco!!!

4. Dream pageant gown designer? Gasper Cruz!!! I met Gasper in 2013 and have only worn his gowns since… I won my national title in my Gasper dress.

5. What are your makeup go-to’s for a quick beat? Eyebrows, mascara and of course lips gloss. If I only have a quick second those are the three things I glam with. 

Pageantry aside, Shannon also serves her community as a school police officer with the Kelly Independent School District. (Photo Cred: Sue Altenburg)

6. What was your first pageant competition like? I competed in a preliminary to the Miss Hawaii (MAO) [competition] as twirling was my talent and my passion. Like I said before, I was competing to get ready for my regional baton twirling competition that was coming up. But then I won!! Craziest part was after I won, I didn’t even have time to stay after and take photos, my mom rushed me over to my track meet at the University of Hawaii. I changed in the car, she drove me to the track, I ran to the start line and BANG the gun went off for the race to start!! After my track meet, I changed again into my baton twirling costume where I performed at the volleyball game. 

7. Current read? I just finished The Escape Room, by Megan Goldin

8. Which portion of competition is your fave? It’s not a portion that is typically thought of judged, but the part where I go out into my community, meet new wonderful faces and have the chance to encourage someone to never give up on their dreams and goals. 

9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? My husband, Chance and I love the water. We currently live in Colorado but met in Hawaii. We have always talked about going on a cruise of somesort. I would say I want to go on cruise to multiple tropical paradises. 

10. How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life? It can definitely be difficult at times but with the right support system anything is achievable. I have to admit that my calendar is how I am able to remember things. I tell Chance all the time if I don’t write something down, I am going to forget 🙂 

Fun Fact: Shannon received a scholarship for Baton Twirling at the University of Hawaii, where she met her husband on the beach!
(Photo Cred: Instagram)

11. Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you: My favorite quote actually comes from my mother. She always instilled in me, “try your hardest and your best and be proud of your accomplishments.”

12. Would you consider yourself a hero? As a law enforcement officer for over 9 years, I have met many people in my life that have changed my way of thinking. I believe anyone who is willing to risk their life for someone else’s can be considered a hero. I am 4th generation law enforcement and I am a proud army wife to my military police Soldier. 

13. Bedtime routine? I am totally hooked on a new show, ‘What If?’ on netflix. We typically watch at least one episode before we go to bed. If I am not currently hooked on a show, I usually read a couple chapters of whatever book I am reading to help me unwind from the day. 

14. What artist are on your playlist? I typically just listen to Pandora and I have two main stations that I rotate between. Either Today’s Country Radio or Today’s Hits. I must admit that right now I am listening to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill mix, mainly because I can listen to the the last song we danced to from our wedding, ‘The Rest of My Life.’ 

15. How did you decide on your evening gown? Gaspar Cruz has been designing my gowns since 2013. I trust his designs and feel amazing when I wear his gowns. He has a way of knowing just what gown, color and design will make each of his girls sparkle at their best. 

Shannon is the proud step mom of 11 year-old, Lilly Anne. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

16. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Dedicated, quirky and compassionate. 

17.  Favorite junk food? PIZZA!!!!!! My family knows that after every pageant we have to get Pizza!! After nationals this year, Chance found a place, was going to have it delivered to the hotel and at the last minute he whisked us away to the restaurant. 

18. One global issue that tugs at your heart: I have been fortunate to have partnered with my platform of T.A.P.S (Teen and Police Services) for the last several years. T.A.P.S focuses on reducing the social distance between police and teens while creating an understanding of each other in order to engage, de-escalate and improve communities. This is an area that is close to my heart and I think creating positive relationships with our youth and law enforcement can create lasting impressions. 

19. What is your favorite movie? Miss Congeniality!!! As a police officer, baton twirling and pageant contestant, I feel like that movie was made for my life.

20. Who would you consider to be your hero? Anyone who puts their life on the line for someone else. First Responders, our military and the generations that came before which paved the way. 

21. How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? My favorite Sundays are the ones we are able to have our daughter Lily Anne, who primarily lives with her mother in Texas. We put on a chick flick, of course, we paint nails, do hair and makeup. Our chocolate labrador Princess Aurora Marie usually ends up sitting on our laps (she is 45 lbs) and Chance is there with us too, enjoying our chick flick 🙂 The best way to unwind is to be with my family. 

22. Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date? Chance and I actually met on the beach in Hawaii. But one of my favorite dates we had was a picnic on the beach where we watched the sunset, listened to the ocean and enjoyed each other’s company. I actually have a picture where we took of our shadows against a rock on that very day. 

Hear more from Shannon Jackowski, United States of America’s Mrs on this week’s episode of Pageants & Prosecco. Now streaming on all major podcast platforms (Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Breaker, Radio Lab, Anchor & where ever else you listen to your episodes).

22 Things to Know About Emma Loney, Miss Wisconsin Earth USA 2020

1) What did the journey to your crown look like?

I have competed since I was 16. What was once something I just wanted to try with a cool crown and sash quickly developed into a drive and passion to make a difference. I realized holding a title was the opportunity to use my voice to implement the change I wanted to see. I had the opportunity to be crowned Miss Wisconsin in many organizations along with placing at the national level multiple times, and an extremely honored to be serving as Miss Wisconsin earth USA 2020. Being a curvy titleholder has shown me that the pageant industry is changing and though not all organizations are as progressive, there are many are starting to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. Being a positive role model and a great titleholder is not indicative of fitting a certain mold of external appearance.

2) What tips would you give to pageant competitors? Do not change who you are for what you think the judges want. 

3) Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? I am a Champagne girl.

4) Dream pageant gown designer? I am actually currently having my Miss Earth USA gown designed by a designer in the Philippines! 

5) What are your makeup go-to’s for a quick beat? Concealer for my dark circles!! And always mascara. 

This will be Emma’s second year competing for the coveted Miss Earth USA title, she was previously Miss Wisconsin Earth USA 2017.
(Photo Cred: Eva Flis Photography)

6) What was your first pageant competition like? SO FUN. I also had no idea what I was doing and thought I would win; I did not. But I fell in love and haven’t stopped since. 

7) Current read? MUST READ: The New Jim Crow

8) Which portion of competition is your fave? Interview. This allows me to tell the judges my goals, passions and why I’m there and to me that is the most important thing. 

9) If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Around the world. I want to go to so many places, my next stop will probably be France or Thailand! 

10) How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life? My planner is my life. I do so much all the time and if it isn’t written down, I’m forgetting about it until the day of which is definitely stressful and something I always try to avoid! 

Emma was the 2018 winner of Mac Duggal’s Fabulous Model Search! (Photo Cred: Eva Flis Photography)

11) Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gahndi 

20) Would you consider yourself a hero?
I’ve actually never thought about it. I’ve always aimed to be a positive role model and advocate. I always have wanted to be a person people feel inspired by and can help them be comfortable in their own skin. I’ve always done my best to advocate for those that couldn’t advocate for themselves. But do I see myself as a hero? No. Just a person trying to make the world a better place. 

13) Bedtime routine?
I am NOT a morning person, so I shower at night. I wash my face, always deep condition my hair, and I put moisturizer on my face. I always brush my hair wet and put it in a low bun to sleep because my hair is naturally curly and I usually leave it natural so this helps it from becoming frizzy and tangled while I sleep. I have a chihuahua, so I cuddle with him and watch Netflix and unwind then go to sleep! 

14) What artist are on your playlist? Honestly, Blackbear is my favorite. Also Khalid. 

15) How did you decide on your evening gown? I was contacted by a newer Filipino designer who is a big fan of Miss Earth and is designing gowns for the miss Philippines contestants. I decided to just go for it and not do my traditional look online, buy 3 dresses and not like any of the, as it always causes me so many issues. We shall see in the coming months how it turns out! 

Fun Fact: Emma had an interest in music at a young age and began singing in her choir at 10 years old.
(Photo Cred: Eva Flis Photography)

16) What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Outgoing, Passionate, Driven 

17) Favorite junk food? Flaming hot Cheetos 

18) One global issue that tugs at your heart: Climate change, which is also a huge reason I chose to compete with Miss Earth. We are single handedly destroying our only home. If changes are not made, humanity will no longer exist. If we want to continue as a species, we need to take immediate action. I personally have made changes in my living to be more environmentally cautious and I believe it is all about spreading what you know and learning new things to ultimately make bigger changes and create a bigger, positive impact. 

19) What is your favorite movie? Phantom of the Opera, Moana and Coco 

20) Who do you consider to be your hero? My mama. She is the most loving, hardest working, passionate woman I have ever known or seen. She puts others first, and always makes time for anyone that needs her. At 50 she’s finishing up her PhD, working as a nursing instructor, running a board for an underprivileged community and so much more while caring for her loved ones to the ends of the earth. 

21) How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? I work every Sunday so when I get home usually a bath, snack and watching whatever show I’m watching at the time. 

22) Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date? I want to type it but I want to also say what mine personally is: September 10th because it’s starting to show signs of fall while still being warm and everyone is excited for a new school year and new memories and the energy of this time makes me so happy. 

Catch up with Emma on this week’s episode of Pageants & Prosecco, the Podcast. Streaming now on on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Breaker, Radio Lab, Anchor on whereever else you listen to your episodes.

22 Things to Know About Alyssa Klinzing, Miss Kansas USA 2019

  1. What did the journey to your crown look like? My journey to the crown took many years of hard work, dedication, and growth. I competed as a Miss three times, and each year I came back to compete as a better version of Alyssa than I was the year before! Looking back I can see why I didn’t win my state title before I did, I wasn’t quite ready and God needed to make sure I was prepared for the honor of competing for Miss USA! I wouldn’t change his timing for the world.
  2. What tips would you give to pageant competitors? The biggest tip I can give is to find your voice and be able to stand up for yourself. It can be very easy for a girl to find herself “molded” into what others want them to be and lose herself during the process, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to present yourself on stage as the most authentic person you can be. Stay true to yourself!
  3. Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? I’m pretty guilty of being involved in the white cleaning craze.
  4. Dream pageant gown designer? My dream dress designer is Valdrin Sahiti.
  5. What are your makeup go to’s for a quick beat? I try to wear minimal makeup on a daily basis! I stick with the NYX BB cream, my Nikita Dragun Face palette for bronzer and blush, Covergirl setting powder, mascara, a good nude shade Kylie lip kit and the Morphe finishing spray! I think a natural look is always the most beautiful!
Fun Fact: Alyssa was perviously Miss Kansas Teen USA in 2013! (Photo Cred: Antisdels Photography)

6. What was your first pageant competition like? My first pageant was when I was 13. I wore a 20 dollar dress from Dillard’s, my mom did my makeup and hair, I had no coaching, but I went and just had a really good time! NAM is where I caught the pageant bug, even though I never won a title!

7. Current read? I’m currently listening to true crime podcasts! I have kind of shifted from booms to podcasts in the past 6 months since I can listen during my commutes.

8. Which portion of competition is your fave? I love competing in interview! I have a really outgoing and bubbly personality so getting to showcase that to the judges is always my favorite!

9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? If I could go anywhere in the world it would be Santorini Greece!

10. How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life? It’s very hard to balance pageants with work, school, and a social life. It’s all about organizing your schedule and sacrificing certain things here and there to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. I tend to find myself spread pretty thin as I try to be there for everyone and give my time to other things, which is something I have been personally working on to change. Prioritizing your mental health is more important than anything!

Alyssa placed top 10 at the 2019 Miss USA Pageant. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

11. Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you: “She remembered who she was and the game changed.” -Lalah Delilah

12. Would you consider to be your Shero? RBG is for sure my Shero, she is an incredibly strong woman who has worked hard to break glass ceilings not only for herself, but for all women in this country. Give “On The Basis Of Sex” a watch, it will inspire you to work hard and chase your wildest dreams.

13. What does your bedtime routine consist of? I usually work evening shifts that get off pretty late so my routine at night consists of taking my makeup off with my makeup eraser, washing my face, brushing my teeth and falling asleep on my face.

14. What artist are on your playlist? I listen to a lot of Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande.

15. How did you decide on your evening gown? Getting my evening gown for Miss USA was not what I expected it to be. I searched through over 20 racks of dresses and wasn’t really drawn to anything, I tried on about 4 dresses and asked Sherri if she could modify the bodice on my favorite dress to make it more flattering on my body type which lead to my final design!

This beauty queen loves ANYTHING sour with her candy. (Photo Cred: Dinesha Lashay)

16. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? 3 words to describe myself are independent, trustworthy, and straightforward.

17. Favorite junk food? I can get down with any sour candies!

18. One global issue that tugs at your heart: One global issue I hold close to heart is climate change. This is an issue that will leave no person or place untouched and it is up to the people to protect and preserve our planet for future generations! Right now I am very focused on getting people involved in the 2020 election and asking voters to focus closely on the candidates who are fighting to protect our planet!

19. What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is The Impossible, if you haven’t seen it be sure to give it a go!

20. Who would you consider to be your hero? My hero is The Rock because I fully believe if I am ever in danger he’s going to be the one to come save me🤣 He has always been my favorite actor!

21. How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? To unwind I really like to workout and just get completely lost in the music! It makes the time go by really fast!

22. Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date: My perfect date is no date at all because dating is complicated and I would rather down a pint of ice cream with my girlfriends while watching The Bachelor🤣

You can hear more from Alyssa including her time competing for Miss Teen USA in 2013 and how it changed as she competed as a Miss years later, her growth from teen to Miss, why women should take on leadership roles in politics and how she survived a domestic violence relationship. Stream Alyssa’s episode on Pageants & Prosecco, the Podcast, available everywhere you listen to your podcasts.

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Artist behind See Thru Nikki Talks Overnight Success & How Her Work is Blowing Up in Social Media

See Thru Nikki digital creator, Nikki Gal, sat down with Pageants & Prosecco to share her story as an “accidentally famous” digital designer.

Nikki creates her unique portraits entirely by hand. Pageant girls like Allie Gonzalez, Hannah McMurphy and Dani Walker have all had their own personal portraits drawn by Nikki. She spoke with US about how she had no idea how big of a business it was going to grown into it.

See Thru Nikki started when a close friend of hers, who participated in pageants, asked Nikki to draw a portrait of her. She said, “it was my first one, so I didn’t think it was my best work.” However, social media thought otherwise. The post quickly went viral! People from all over, including many pageant titleholders, were now asking when they could get their own portraits done, leading her to create her own graphic design business, See Thru Nikki.

After taking a leap of faith, her business immediately grew in less than a year. (Photo cred; Nikki Gal)

The name See Thru Nikki, stems from Nikki’s natural creativity. When Pageants & Prosecco asked about why she chose the name explained, “They’re seeing their vision through my eyes.” Each design takes Gal approximately 40 minutes, and the design is done solely by hand. It is important for her to add a personal touch to her art, “Every digital designer I know uses a stylus, I think drawing by hand is more heartfelt.”

Nikki’s designs are not just used for pageant girl profile pictures, she has designed bumper stickers, business cards, logos, websites, YouTube intro’s, and more. She even designed the cover art for the single, “I Don’t Care,” by Sarah Cleary, and Mariah Belgrod. However, Gal admires her pageant clientele, “Every pageant girl I’ve done business with is so nice and professional. They are also so confident, it’s inspiring to me.”

Nikki’s advice for aspiring digital designers. It’s simple, “trust the creativity process.” She begins early in the morning around 7:30 am beginning with meditation. “I love yoga and meditation; they make your mind clear and get you in that creative mindset.” She also tries to read to help keep her mind focused, so she can before working on her designs.

You can hear our full interview with Nikki Gal on the podcast, Pageants & Prosecco. Now playing on all major podcast platforms.

22 Things to Know About Alexia Robinson, Miss United States 2019

Pageants & Prosecco caught up with Alexia Robinson, during a rather snowy day in Missouri outside of St. Louis, working from home taking clients & growing her business Superior Academic Consulting. Designed to provide students guidance into & encourage them to take control of their higher education. She provides ACT & SAT test preparation and helps them navigate the college application process using the Comm app.

Time is of the essence for her as she is still a student of the medical field. Her love for children and science led her to land a prestigious role as a researcher in the pediatric neurology department at Washington University. She’s worked with hundreds of health clinics across St. Louis, Missouri and Southern Illinois. Kids Vision for Life is just one program she is a champion for during her reign. Alexia and Kids Vision travel to different elementary schools to provide free exam and glasses to children.

Her love for providing medicine to communities who do not have quality access to care is obvious in our interview with Alexia. We caught up with her shortly after her trip from Alabama working with children who’s mothers were addicted to meth & heroin.

2020 is a year of vision for many of us, including Alexia. Her goal is to end up on the sidelines of a NFL team’s bench as an orthopedic physician taking care of the players. In the midst of her titleholder and entrepreneurial endeavors, she is applying and in the interview cycle for several medical schools.

Hear her story about how she’s using her passion to encourage more Black women to represent in the both the pageant & medical fields during our interview — Sippin’ with Alexia Miss United States on Pageants & Prosecco Tune IN!!

Alexia is a Wash U student studying pediatric neurology research!
  1. What did the journey to your crown look like? In past pageants I tried very hard to fit the typical pageant winner, and in the past I felt in I had many people in my head telling me what to wear, fix, or even look like. This made me feel as if I couldn’t be myself. This year I did not prepare at all to the extent of pageants I did in the past. For nationals I only prepared for the competition during the hours with my coach and I booked 3 hours a month. I focused on my service with the mobile clinics and my medical school applications. I had to pay for medical school applications and summer classes which came out to be close to $10,000 so that didn’t leave me any room for pageant expenses. However with the help of my friends, sponsors, and resourcefulness, I was able to win the crown!
  2. What tips would you give to pageant competitors? I hope my pageant story can inspire other girls that often get discouraged from competing because of financial reasons, or because they might feel like they aren’t booking enough photo opportunities oops I mean appearances for service as other girls. As long as you stay true to yourself and show your real authentic self, then that will shine through on stage.
  3. Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? A manhattan with 7 cherries or my favorite beer is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
  4. Dream pageant gown designer? Gaspar Cruz, he knows a woman’s body, and the quality is unlike any other designer.
  5. What are your makeup go to’s for a quick beat? Everyday is a quick beat for me! I do get my eyebrows microbladed. I think it’s very worth the money. However, in addition to that I wear Chanel Ultra Le Teint Velvet and a Chanel lipstick.
Manhattan over Merlot! Admittedly not much of a wine drinker, Alexia just returned from a trip to Europe which consisted of a wine tasting trip to Frascati, Italy. Pictured here in front of a row of vines. Farmers get ready for the fall harvest around March-early April. (Instagram)

6. What was your first pageant competition like?

It was a Miss America local. My talent was burlesque dancing… I didn’t know how conservative Miss America was at the time. I also had a plunging neckline with a high slit sequin gown… needless to say I lost and went to USA after that.


7. Current Read?

I have not read anything recently, because I am currently writing my own book, “Baptized in a bar.”

8. Which portion of competition is your fave?

Swim, because I can be unapologetically sexy.

9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

Paris, and I actually go in a couple of weeks.

10. How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life?

It’s a struggle, people see the service and the fancy travel pictures I post. However, they also don’t realize that I’m working 15 hour days so I don’t get behind in my work.

11. Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you.

“And suddenly when you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

12. Who is a hero in your life?

My grandmother, because she’s the perfect woman who made me I am today.

13. What does your bedtime routine consist of?

I take out my clip ins and toss them somewhere (most frequently the floor). I grab a cup of water and then I am asleep.

14. What artists are on your playlist?

Kane Brown

Alexia wore a A gorgeous Jovani Couture gown at the Miss United States competition, sponsored by Sequin Siren.

15. How did you decide on your evening gown? I didn’t it was sent to me by the Sequin Siren a couple of days before I left for the competition.

16. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? leader, adventurous and inquisitive.

17. Favorite junk food? Cake

18. One global issue that tugs at your heart: Uninsured patient population and drug addiction.

19. What is your favorite movie? The Blind Side

20. Who would you consider to be your greatest hero? God!

21. How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? I don’t, I’m normally working.

22.Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date? Hiking the smokey mountains and making smore’s in a fireplace.

Continue reading “22 Things to Know About Alexia Robinson, Miss United States 2019”

Miss World Receives Key to Kingston, Jamaica

Talk about royal treatment! When Tori-Ann Singh won the Miss World title, she had no idea how much of an impact she would make not only all over the world, but in her hometown of Kingston, Jamaica too. The Queen was honored with the key to the city! The ceremony was ratified by the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation, making this the highest honor the city can bestow to one of their residents.

Tori was honored as part of her homecoming tour at the Emancipation Park in St. Andrew with Councilor Tosha Schwapp, leading the ceremony. She shared her pride for her achievements and how the national win has brought the Caribbean nation “immense joy and happiness,” because many Jamaicans see Miss World as one of the most prestigious international beauty pageants.

Tori-Ann’s first picture after she arrived to Jamaica during her homecoming tour! (Photo Cred: Instagram)

During her remarks, the Councilor said, “Toni-Ann distinguished herself during the competition and made us proud and will promote Brand Jamaica.” Brand Jamaica is the country’s effort to attract more businesses to the country and also ensure that more Jamaican brands become internationally known and recognized. After announcing the collaboration, Councilor Schwapp said not only were Kingston natives proud of Tori, but how it’s a win for all Jamaicans, “we are proud to know that this ‘little and tallawah’ young lady has placed us again on the map.”

During her homecoming tour, Tori-Ann exclaimed, “This is your crown!” (Photo Cred: Instagram)

Tori-Ann is the 4th Jamaican to win the coveted Miss World crown. The last Jamaican winner was Lisa Hanna, Miss World 1993. Singh won the international title in London back in November 2019. Her win also made 2019 the first ever year Black Women won the two most prestigious beauty pageant titles: Miss Universe and Miss World out of the Big 4. Tori-Ann is currently on her world tour to volunteer, speak on global issues and serves as an international public figure. You go Tori-Ann! 

Zozi, Cheslie & Nia Share Backlash They Faced After Winning Their Crowns

Living a glamorous life as a national beauty queen can come with it’s fair share of challenges. One being the constant critique on one’s appearance whether it comes during competition or while out on appearances like New York Fashion Week. Being a titleholder who’s Black adds on more scrutiny. Those familiar with this is none other than the women making history right now holding some of the highest titles in pageantry.

Zozibini Tunzi (Miss Universe), Chelsie Kryst (Miss USA), Kaleigh Garris, (Miss Teen USA) and Nia Franklin (Miss America 2019) recently sat down with IMG and Endeavor’s CMO (Chief marketing officer), Bozoma Saint John during an open discussion on beauty standards at a panel during New York Fashion Week to share the hardships and backlash they faced since winning their titles while also redefining beauty standards.

“My journey started with Miss South Africa,” Zozibini shared with John the backlash began when she first told people of her decision to compete for Miss South Africa Universe. The first thing people would ask her after she announced the news if she was going to do it with her short hair or wear a wig. The current Miss Universe says she was appalled by this question because she felt it said her natural 4C hair was not good enough.

“With all of us here, I think it’s a possibility for women and young girls to finally see their faces reflected in in ours.” – Zozibini Tunzi
(Photo Cred: Instagram)

Nonetheless, Zozibini decided not only to compete for Miss South Africa Universe in her natural hair, but keep the same look at Miss Universe. She explained how winning the crown with her natural hair was everything, “If I listened to them I would believe everything they were saying. We are supposed to be breaking beauty boundaries.”

On the other hand during her year as Miss America Nia says she had the opposite problem of Zozi,“I would get upset by people saying I wasn’t wearing my natural hair enough,” she said. Throughout her reign, Nia says she was criticized for not wearing her natural hair enough. However, she was unfazed by the criticism she received.

“How I choose to wear my hair is my personal choice. Wearing my hair as braids while I crowned my successor was my personal choice.”

-Nia Franklin
Post crown life is going well for Nia! She just released her first new single EarthSun. (Photo Cred: Jessielyn Palumbo)

Nia spoke out about how she also faced problems with her initial Miss America 2.0 contract. As the 92nd Miss America competition, she felt as if she was just a stepping-stone, “I wanted to make sure the contract had my best interest.” Upon receiving the document, Nia reached out to her attorney and close pageant friend, Chelsie who was able to help out with her contract dispute. Nia shared that Chelsie “got me everything I ever wanted.”

“Not only can there be one of us, there can be five out of five.” -Chelsie Kryst
(Photo Cred: Benjamin Askinas)

Chelsie faced her fair share of hardships (before winning Miss USA) first in the courtroom as an attorney. She shared, “many times I was the youngest person, only woman and person of color,” saying it can be a frightening experience at times. However, she believes it was important for her to be represented in the courtroom as example for young black children to follow.

It was this same model, watching people before her that motivated her to compete for Miss South Carolina. She watched her mother compete in pageants and inspired her a a child, “I could do something because I saw it happen.” After Chelsie saw her mom don a crown and sash, she felt inspired to enter and signed up, now she’s making history.

“Seeing that I myself and all 5 of us have such an impact it’s just like people know who I am?” -Kaleigh Garris
(Photo Cred: Benjamin Askinas)

Miss Teen USA, Kaleigh, shared she has not quite grasped her impact on society yet, however, she does see the changes, “I’m a part of history and that’s really cool.” Despite the backlash all the queens have dealt with, Kaleigh is still amazed by the tremendous amount of love and support they all receive, “I see these pictures or videos of little girls reenacting our crowning.”

These powerful queens are living, breathing, proof all women of color are beautiful. Miss Universe Zozibini explained, “We can be what they can’t see [in the media]. When they look at us they too can do something for themselves.” 

This is the first time in history where all major titles were held by black women. (Photo Cred: Confidently Misses)

We dig deeper into this topic on the episode of Pageants & Prosecco below. Be sure to grab a glass and tune in!

Mexican Model With No Arms Wins Miss Nanchital 2020 Title

Mexican model, Ana Gabriela Molina, challenged both the beauty and pageant industry standards by showcasing her disability as a different ability when she was crowned Miss Nanchital 2020.

Ana’s win qualifies her to compete for the state title, Miss Veracruz. She’s one of the first disabled woman in history to compete for Miss Mexico. (Photo Cred: Mexico News Daily)

With Ana’s win at Miss Nanchital, she gained a ton of international attention. She was born with bilateral amelia, a birth defect targeting her arms. However, this is not stopping her from chasing her dreams. During an interview, the 24-year-old shared, “I’ve managed to overcome everything that has happened to me in my whole life.”

Her win qualified her to compete for the upcoming state title, Miss Veracruz. If Anna was to win Miss Veracruz, she would go on to be the first disabled women in history to compete for the coveted Miss Mexico crown.

In addition to being a beauty queen, Ana is a graduate psychology student, motivational speaker, and model!
(Photo Cred: Video Still from EFE)

Beauty pageants are not the only obstacle Ana has had to face. Despite having no arms, she manages to eat, use a mobile phone and write all with her feet. In addition to competing, Ana is also a graduate psychology student, motivational speaker and a part time model.

Ana wishes to inspire those with disabilities not to limit themselves simply because they’re disabled. She explains, “I feel like any other normal person because I’ve lived my life like that. So, for me, my disability is not a limit.”

“I feel like any other normal person because I’ve lived my life like that.” (Photo Cred: Insta)

The Miss Veracruz competition is set to be held March 3rd to the 18thth. If she wins, she will qualify for the national Miss Mexico pageant this June. During her interview, Ana expressed her confidence for the upcoming pageant, “In the contest I will go through the same thing. They will evaluate me in the same way as all the others.”

Will Gabriela win Miss Vercruz becoming the first disabled woman to compete for Miss Mexico? She’s active on instagram and documenting her journey to the crown!

Click on the picture to follow Ana’s journey to the Miss Mexico crown! (Photo Cred: Instagram)

Miss Puerto Rico Shares Her Thoughts on the Super Bowl Half-Time Show

Did you happen to catch the LIV Super Bowl half-time show? There’s been a lot of buzz online about the performance both good and bad. One person who knows what it means to show your Latin pride is none other than Miss Universe 1st Runner-Up Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson. She spoke out about the historic performance and a potential book deal coming her way during a recent interview with the Miss Universe Organization at their New York Headquarters.

“If we don’t take risks in life we don’t know how far we can go,” she says. (Photo Cred: Fadil Berisha)

“First off the Latin culture is just really shining right now and I’m so proud,” Madison gushed. This was the first time in Super Bowl history where two Latina women, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, were the featured headliners. The show actually gave Madison goosebumps when she watched.  Jennifer Lopez’s performance specifically inspired her, “JLo is my big inspiration. She has literally shown what it is to be Puerto Rican.” 

During the performance, JLo donned an American flag which, when opened, turned into the Puerto Rican Flag, in celebration of her Puerto Rican heritage. Madison felt a lot of emotions about this moment because in the 1940’s it was illegal for someone to carry a Puerto Rican flag with them. She shared, “to just see where we have come right now today, is inspirational.”

Madison’ posted about her “big inspiration” after the Super Bowl half-time performance. (Photo Cred: Instagram)

Madison’s experience growing up in a bicultural household helped shape her and is part of the inspiration behind pursuing writing a book detailing her upbringing. She explained, “I just want to write a book about my experiences,” including her life before and after competing for Miss Universe back in November. 

She says in her book, she wants to detail her move to New York at just 19 years old to pursue a modeling career and how this led led her to find her a passion in communicating with other people. The move is one of the reasons she felt compelled to compete for Miss Puerto Rico and ultimately Miss Universe, where she placed first runner up to Zozibini. The substance of her book is based off taking uncomfortable risks. “If we don’t take risks in life we don’t know how far we can go,” she says. 

Check out her full interview with the Miss Universe Organization below:

Click the post if you would like to listen to more of Miss Puerto Rico’s interview! (Photo Cred: Instagram)