Talk about congeniality! Nia Franklin deserved the title of Miss America after speaking on such a meaningful cause during the competition on Sept. 9. Read all her statements, here.
Powerful statements were to be anticipated at the most radically different Miss America event yet. The competition’s winner, Miss New York Nia Franklin, delivered on that expectation at the 2019 Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sept. 9. During the event’s live airing on ABC, Nia didn’t let a ticking clock diminish the quality of her answers during the question rounds. “I would start by sharing my story. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian school — only five percent of students were minorities,” Nia said after Miss Indiana Lydia Suzan Tremaine asked how she can promote a positive body image. “I felt so out of place as a woman of color. But I found my love in arts and music and that made me feel positive about myself and who I was. That’s what I would encourage young girls to do — find who they are.”
For the later “red carpet” portion, Nia continued to expand on her social impact platform. “There’s a 20 percent higher graduation rate where music is part of the curriculum. I’ll continue to work to make sure children have access to quality education,” she explained. This makes sense, since the New Yorker sang a beautiful opera number during the talent round! Finally, for the judge to contestant Q&A, Nia revealed what exactly she’ll do as the new Miss America…an answer that got her the job! “I have New York grit. I have moved five times because of subletting in New York,” she told the judges. “It can be difficult because of pricey rent. As a New Yorker, I understand what it takes to work hard. I came up on a Lincoln Center fellowship, and I’m excited to share my platform and social impact, advocating for arts and making sure all students have access to quality education.”
These words are fitting in a new era of “pageants.” This is the first Miss America event to not have the swimsuit round, a decision that almost half of the organization’s board members reportedly resigned over, according to The Wall Street Journal. Now, the organization is shifting its focus from using the event as a parade of beauty and instead more so as a platform for contestants’ words and causes. “We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition,” Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson said on Good Morning America on June 5. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”
Despite the seismic shift, this isn’t the first year contestants delivered heavy responses at a Miss America competition. At last year’s event, more than one contestant commented on President Donald Trump’s actions, or lack thereof, during the question and answer round. Miss Texas Margana Wood admitted that the president should’ve issued a statement regarding the Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017, while Miss America winner Cara Mund boldly said that pulling out of the Paris agreement was a “bad decision,” when asked about the Trump administration’s choice.