Miss USA 2020 Asya Danielle Branch made history as this first African-American to represent Mississippi in the Miss USA pageant. She is also the first Mississippian to win the Miss USA pageant.
The 22-year-old Booneville native bested 50 contestants from all over the United States at the ceremony held at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst passed on the “Power of Positivity” crown (made by Mouawad) to Asya.
Miss Idaho Kim Layne, who is of Filipino and Irish descent, was first runner-up; and Miss Oklahoma Mariah Jane Davis was second runner-up.
The staging of the Miss USA 2020, originally slated in the spring, was delayed due to COVID-19. The pageant aired live Monday night (Central time) with a studio audience, but capacity was significantly reduced. The organization also reportedly worked hand in hand with the Shelby County government and health officials to ensure that health and safety protocols were in place.
Like the former Miss USAs, Branch will move to New York, the organization’s headquarters, where she will fulfill her duties and represent the Miss USA brand.
Asya, a senior at the University of Mississippi majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications, edged other contestants with her answers to the Q&A portion, first to the question about what must be done to heal the divided nation, to which she answered:
“I think this is an issue of trust. We’ve lost trust and the systems that seem to keep our country running from the media to business, to our government. And it’s all about restoring trust and coming together and working together to heal and trust a new system. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation, we’re going to have to set a better example.”
She also weighed in on gun reform and urged lawmakers to require training and safety classes for prospective gun owners.
Get to know more about Miss USA 2020 Asya Danielle Branch, who will be one of the competitors that Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo will face in the Miss Universe 2021 pageant.
She empowers children of incarcerated parents
This advocacy is close to her heart as her father has been incarcerated since she was 10 years old. It was her mother Kristal, a school teacher, who raised her and her seven siblings.
In an Instagram post, Asya shared that she faced financial, mental and emotional hardships with their family’s situation, but learned to overcome obstacles and defy odds. “I learned that many people behind bars don’t actually belong there. I learned that systemic racism does, in fact, truly exist. I learned that incarceration is a shared family sentence."
Asya also revealed in an article she wrote for Guideposts.org in 2019 that her father is scheduled to be released in 2022.
As Miss Mississippi 2018, she worked with a prison ministry program called Day1, whose initiative Love Letters, allows mothers in jail to send weekly letters to their children.
She is not new in the world of pageantry
The first time she showed interest in joining pageants was when she was seven years old. Her father tried to talk her out of it as he was worried that pageants would “teach me to seek gratification from others rather than God.” But Asya, who was outgoing and loved the spotlight, put her foot down and her father eventually gave in and supported her ever since.
After several attempts to clinch the Miss Mississippi crown in 2016 and 2017, she won the title in 2018 and headed on to the Miss America 2019 pageant, where she did not place.
However, she took a chance once again at the Miss Mississippi USA 2020 pageant, where she became its first African-American winner and representative to the Miss USA 2020 pageant. Asya is also the first Mississippian to win the Miss USA title.
She is a talented singer
She began singing at a young age at church. Though she is seen as an epitome of confidence as a beauty queen, she suffers from stage fright when she sings in front of a crowd.
Asya revealed in an interview with wapt.com in 2018 that it was during a recital when she was 12 years old that once depleted her confidence for singing. “I got up to go sing and I forgot the words after the first verse, and my mom was on the front row trying to mouth the words, but she was on the wrong part,” she said. “I didn’t sing for two years after that.”
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Today, Asya post song covers on Instagram, with her boyfriend Briley Morgan who is a musician, music producer and an audio engineer.
She also sang the US national anthem at a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi in October 2018 while she was reigning Miss Mississippi.
She has her own cosmetics line
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In her Miss USA bio, she reveals that she has her own cosmetics line called Branch Beauty. “What started as a makeup obsession has turned into a lucrative business that I am very proud of," she said.
Her products include lip gloss, liquid lipstick, lip liner and eye shadow. They are cruelty-free.