November 16, 2020
Mississippi’s Asya Branch was crowned as Miss USA on November 10, 2020, but there's a lot more to this Southern Belle than just a pretty face.
Asya Branch breaks the mold. Yes, she's beautiful, as beautiful or maybe even more so than any other Miss USA before her, but she's been crowned at a time of conflict when being beautiful isn't enough.
Throughout the pageant, audiences got to know a little about Asya. Asya wants to change the world, but she knows why it needs changing because she's lived where it's broken.
MEET MISS USA
When Mississippi’s Asya Branch talks about making the world a better place she has concrete plans and a starting point. She is in all respects a Miss USA for the new era.
This year's pageant was held under difficult conditions, with the COVID-19 pandemic demanding the constant use of facemasks by the contestants and social distancing, but Asya managed to outshine 50 other beautiful young women and win the coveted tiara.
FIRST BLACK WINNER FROM MISSISSIPI
Asya is the 11th Miss Mississipi to be crowned Miss USA -- but she is also the first Black Miss Mississipi to have won the pageant. Considering that Mississipi's population is 40% Black, the numbers are worrying.
The University of Mississippi student is also the fourth African American woman ever to be crowned Miss Mississipi in the pageant's 86-year history. Her Miss USA win follows that of another Black woman, Cheslie Kryst, who at 28 was the oldest winner ever.
Asya is passionate about helping at-risk youth, and she was one herself, not so long ago. The 22-year-old grew up with her father in prison, and that has inspired her to launch a project: “Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents.” Asya said:
“I grew up as the child of an incarcerated parent. [...] I learned that incarceration is a shared family sentence.”
Asya is determined that the pain and hardships she's gone through will help her to make a difference for other children and other families, and she is an advocate for prison reform. She said:
“I’m grateful for the hardships that I faced because [...] made me a voice for the unheard.”
On a lighter note, Asya loves dogs and has two pooches, a chihuahua named Jonas, and a mixed breed named Titan to whom she is devoted.
The stunning Miss USA is also a big fan of Ben&Jerry's ice cream and her favorite flavor is Half Baked -- chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies. Beauty, smarts, and great taste, who can argue with that...