Black Girl Magic: Who Are The 2019 Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, and Miss America Winners?
The saying black girls rock has always been true but it’s been proven with the historical crowning of the most recent Miss Universe. Zozibini Tunzi receiving her sash and crown marked the first time in history that all four titles of Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss Teen USA have been donned by black women…at the same time!
Social media has been erupting for days in celebration of the news. All four titleholders have had the pleasure of meeting one another and tipping each other’s crowns in solidarity since the monumental wins. As more images of the melanin beauty queens are shared, more and more people want to know who exactly these beauty pageant winners are.
Miss America 2019 – Nia Franklin
The Winston-Salem, North Carolina native has lived and breathed the performing arts since she was a child. True to encompassing what it means to be a southern bell, Franklin lived in her hometown through graduate school. A classically trained opera singer, she earned her undergraduate degree in composition from East Carolina University, and a master’s in fine arts from The University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts. Following graduate school, she was awarded a Kenan Fellowship at New York’s Lincoln Center Education and made the move from the country to the big city.
Franklin’s road to pageantry was different than most who grow up comparing in beauty pageants. While attending East Carolina University, she was crowned Miss Black and Gold at a scholarship pageant sponsored by the university’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. She also competed in the Miss North Carolina organization in 2016 and 2017.
A family crisis would introduce her to the mainstream pageant world. In her freshman year of college, her father’s lymphoma diagnosis led to her to the Miss America pageant. “I had to find a way to pay for myself to go to school and so I entered this competition and this organization,” she told the organization. “It became much more than just the scholarship money for me, it was also about the mentorship, leadership and sisterhood you find in this program.” She was crowned Miss Five Boroughs at the age of 23 before winning win Miss New York 2018. She was crowned Miss America 2019 on September 9, 2018.
Franklin has used her platform to be an advocate for the performing and creative arts.
Miss USA 2019 – Chelsie Kryst
Another southern belle Kryst was born and raised in South Carolina before settling in theNorth Carolina metropolitan city of Charlotte. While many pageant girls spent their time doing extracurricular activities that included performing arts or attending etiquette school, Kryst is an athlete, Divison I at that. The 28-year-old competed in the heptathlon, long jump and triple jump on South Carolina’s track and field team. She also holds a record, sitting in the top ten in the record books at South Carolina for the triple jump.
Before competing for Miss USA, she was a full-time practicing attorney who is licensed to practice law in two states. Kryst dedicated some of her caseload to providing pro bono service (free legal) to get reduced sentences for people who were sentenced unjustly.
She earned both her law degree and Masters of Business Administration from Wake Forest University. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina.
Outside of practicing law and holding national titles in track and field, the curly-haired beauty has a passion for fashion. She started a fashion blog, White Collar Glam, that focuses on workwear fashion for women. She used her love of fashion as a way to give back and became an active volunteer for Dress for Success. One of her goals is to become a fashion designer.
Kryst has a passion for health and fitness. According to the Charlotte Observer, waking in the swimsuit portion of the Miss USA pageant was a favorite of hers. She found it “empowering.” Her mother was a pageant girl and her father was a bodybuilder at one point. She grew up body-conscious and focuses on healthy eating.
Kryst has added television presenter to her long list of accomplishments. She’s been a correspondent with Extra since October 2019.
Miss Teen USA 2019 – Kaliegh Garris
Garris and all of her natural hair glory became the second Connecticut representative to win the title of Miss USA. She made the decision to go natural with her hair several years prior to competing as Miss Teen USA. At the time, she didn’t know that her natural hair and getting the crown would be a historical moment. Garris continues to make defying standardized images of beauty a mission.
She told Miss USA that she planned to Southern Connecticut State University with a focus in medicine. Her goal was to concentrate on obtaining a nursing degree. She stayed true to her commitment and is a current student.
Prior to the pageant, Garris was previously a dual-enrolled high school student who had a passion for the arts, specifically theater. She also was a competitive dancer.
Miss Universe 2019 – Zozibini Tunzi
The South African beauty won the 2019 title by impressing judges with her poise and thoughtfulness. The 26-year-old was a stand out amongst the competition, speaking on important causes such as climate change, diversity, and women’s empowerment. Oprah Winfrey was even a fan, giving the new Miss Universe a shoutout, to which Tunzi admitted to PEOPLE Magazine made her fan out!
Tunzi intends to use her platform to lead young girls to high self-esteem. She told PEOPLE:
“When those girls look at me, I want them to see it, and I want them to feel it because I know a lot of people didn’t get that opportunity growing up and I want them to live in a different world where everyone matters, where everyone is smart, where everyone is beautiful, where everyone is capable.”PEOPLE Magazine
Tunzi has firsthand knowledge of being confident in oneself. She experienced criticism behind the scenes of the competition when she was asked to wear a wig to mask her natural hair. She opposed and won the crown as her natural self.
Her self-esteem grew through the world of pageants. Her mom entered her into her first competition when she was just seven-years-old and she’s been competing ever since. Prior to winning the universal title, Tunuzi attended Cape Peninsula University of Technology where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and image management in 2018. She also worked as a model.
She’ll live in New York City during her reign as Miss Universe. It’s almost guaranteed that a modeling agency is vying for a chance to sign the new champion!
Congrats to the winners and the representation they are providing little black girls from all over the world. They are showing that black is beautiful!