AceShowbiz - Miss New York Nia Franklin is Miss America 2019. The Winston-Salem-born beauty queen was named the winner of this year's competition on a show which broadcast live from Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday night, September 9.
Franklin, a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she majored in music composition, edged out 50 other contestants in the competition. Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei was the first runner-up, Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway finished third, followed by Miss Florida Taylor Tyson, with Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras rounding out the top five.
Ditching the swimsuit round, the newly-rebranded "Miss America 2.0" took "red carpet glamour" as its theme this year. During the evening gown round, the contestants were given opportunity to promote the cause they support.
Franklin's platform is Advocating for the Arts. When asked by Miss Indiana Lydia Suzan Tremaine about how she can promote a positive body image, she explained, "I would start by sharing my story. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian school - only five percent of students were minorities. 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."
She continued promoting her cause during the "red carpet" portion of the competition, "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."
When asked by a judge what she would do at the new Miss America, she answered, "I have New York grit. I have moved five times because of subletting in New York. 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."
Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei is supporting Women in STEM, which inspires the next generation of innovators. Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway's platform is InspHIGHER. Miss Florida Taylor Tyson supports Rise Up, which goal is to empower young women to lead and succeed. Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras' platform is FEAR (Face Everything and Rise).
The beauty pageant underwent a slew of changes this year in the name of female empowerment. When a comedian reminded the crowd minutes before the televised broadcast began that there would be no swimsuit competition this year, they responded with loud boos. The swimsuit round was replaced by onstage interviews, during which contestants asked other contestants questions about headline-grabbing topics such as President Donald Trump and NFL player protests among others.
Outside the competition, Miss America 2018 Cara Mund has led a protest against the Miss American Organization officials. She claimed that the Miss American Organization officials, including CEO Regina Hopper and chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, has bullied and silenced her since she won the contest. Most of the Miss America state organizations support Mund, demanding that Carlson and Hopper resign.
Still, Mund was on hand to hand over her crown to the new title holder. She received loud applause when she took the stage as Miss America one last time.