MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Mid-South woman made history on the Soundstage at Graceland, becoming the first Mississippi contestant to win the title of Miss USA.
Unique times and a surreal experience for newly crowned Miss USA Asya Branch.
“I was just truly honored to be in that moment, and feeling the crown placed on my head, seeing the sash come on, I was just like, 'This can’t be real, this can’t be happening,” said Branch.
The 22-year-old made history as the first African American woman to become Miss Mississippi USA, and again as the first Miss Mississippi to win the Miss USA pageant.
“I said that, ‘If I win Miss USA, I’ll be making history twice,’ and here we are, and I just feel so grateful and I know that I’ve made my state proud,” said Branch.
During the competition Branch gave a statement on gun laws, saying she believes in more education and safety.
When asked what must be done to bring the nation back together, she said trust needs to be restored in the government and media.
Branch has also been vocal about her own life experiences. Her father was incarcerated for 10 years, she says that the situation continues to motivate her.
“Throughout this year I do plan to continue working for prison and criminal justice reform, and hopefully improving conditions and enlightening people because I hope awareness goes a long way,” said Branch.
Carolyn Aronson, whose company sponsored the event, says Branch is destined for great things.
“I think she has a worldliness about her and her worldly experiences,” said Aronson, Founder and CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare and Be a 10 cosmetics.
Branch will go on to be a contestant for Miss Universe, they have yet to announce when that competition will take place.