How Anitra Byrum The Reigning Ms. Woman New York United States 2018 Celebrates Her African-American Culture

“There she is, Miss America. There she is, your ideal, the dream of a million girls who are more than pretty, can come true in Atlantic City. For she may turn out to be the queen of femininity” boomed the theme song at Miss America’s 1968 pageant. Outside, women were protesting the pageant, citing its misogyny, homophobia, and fatphobia, and also objecting to the Miss America Organization’s documented racism. 

In 1983, a 20-year-old Vanessa Williams became the first blackwoman to be crowned Miss America. It was a milestone many decades in the making - Vanessa Williams is the epitome of determination and grace. Vanessa Williams auspiciously paved the way for African American women in the pageant world" - confessed Anitra Byrum, the reigning Ms. Woman New York United States 2018.

As Ms. Woman New York United States Anitra will be a role model of good works, peaceful thinking, community service advocate, and ambassador of goodwill - "It is important that I lead a great example to women, children, and the community as a whole. I will do my very best to be inspirational. One of my favorite scriptures I live by; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - she explained.

Lets know a little more about Anitra's pageant experience through this interview!

What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants? 

Various attributes attracted me to pageantry: elegance, public speaking, gaining a healthy lifestyle, volunteering, scholarship/career advancement, and networking.

I viewed pageants on television since I was a small child. I watched Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe annually. I always thought pageants looked really fun and inspiring. As a 5 year old child, I recall watching the Miss America pageant with my grandmother and she replied, "You're going to be doing that." I didn't initially reply..I just looked at the television screen, the women looked so poised and beautiful. I entered my first pageant when I was 17 years old and fell in love with pageants! I can definitely say, I have been "bit by the pageant bug." :) 

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What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

I have competed in pageants for 16 years.  I have gained confidence, poise, friendships, scholarships, communication skills, and overall to be the best person I can be. I am excited to see what positive opportunities will emerge with competing in pageants in the future. 

Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?

I graduated from Florida State University College Of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree in May, 2015. I am currently a Family Attorney in New York City. In my spare time, I love volunteering for many organizations: God's Love We Deliver, Partnership for the Homeless, Food Bank for New York City, and New York Cares. In the near future, I will be volunteering and donating to the organization Dress For Success which empowers women to achieve academic independence by providing a network, professional attire, and the tools to help women thrive in work and in life. 

I also plan on starting my own vegan and organic cruelty-free skincare line in the future.

Social media seems to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not? 

Yes, social media does play a major role in pageantry. Social media highlights the positivity of pageants. It is so beautiful to view titleholders doing so many good deeds and having a strong voice in their communities. Pageantry is about women empowerment, a strong sisterhood of women who are striving to make a huge positive difference in the world.

Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?

I have competed in many pageants throughout my life. Yes, I have experienced ups and downs while competing in pageants. I have lost and won pageants. It is very disappointing when you have worked so hard to win a pageant, but do not win or sometimes...not even place. After winning a beauty pageant I don't think of all the disappointments; I think about how hard I have worked to be chosen as a titleholder. This is exactly what I thought when I was crowned Ms. Woman New York United States 2018! I have gained so much in pageantry. I can not wait to be on the National stage for the Ms. Woman United States  pageant. I never ever give up on my goals, dreams, and aspirations; I carry this determined attitude in pageants, and all aspects of my life.

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We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference? 

Importantly I wish violence, hatred, social depression, financial deprivation, and homelessness did not exist. As a titleholder I plan on putting action with words. Through volunteering at non-profit organizations and motivational speaking I plan to diminish these hardships  locally and nationally. We must all work together to make a change so that the world can be a loving, safe, and tranquil place.

What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?

1. Keep God first in your life. 

2. Focus on your education and obtain a college degree(s)

3. Keep a positive mindset; surround yourself with only positive people.

4. Do not use profanity; behave with proper etiquette at all times. 

5. Work on your inward beauty just as much as you work on your outward beauty.

6. Never ever give up on your dreams, goals, and aspirations.

7. Beauty queen= intelligence, poise, integrity, determination, confidence, and inward beauty.

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