Miss Mississippi Asya Branch ready for Miss America pageant

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

The opportunity to become Miss America only comes once in a lifetime and Miss Mississippi Asya Branch has been doing everything she can to make her childhood dream come true.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was six-years-old, and you only get one shot at it for your entire life, and I am definitely giving it my all, because you want to do all you can to make it a reality,” Branch said, adding, “I want to win. I want to be Mississippi’s fifth Miss America.”

On Tuesday, Branch boarded a plane to Atlantic City where she will compete for the national title.

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For the past 10 weeks, after being crowned Miss Mississippi in June. Branch has been preparing for the event, which will culminate on Sept. 9 with the crowning of the 2019 Miss America.

Branch, who is a native of Booneville, said she has been doing mock interviews in preparation for the competition, as well as hours of vocal practice, so she will be at her best during the talent phase of the competition.

“I have been working with a vocal coach tweaking little things like specific ways to breath and certain motions to help get that air through and making sure that it is clean,” Branch said.

The 20-year-old University Of Mississippi student was not able to reveal what she will be singing during the competition phase of the contest, but did say it was a piece that had meaning.

“I have always loved talent and I am singing a song that is so wonderful. I can really relate to the story behind it and that is something I focus on when I select a song for talent. I have to truly envision myself connecting with the message,” she said.

The preliminary talent competition accounts for 50 percent of a contestant’s score and 30 percent on the final night.

Miss America changes

Moreover, because there will no longer be a swimsuit phase of the competition, the interview phase of Miss America competition has been expanded. Scoring will also reflect the changes.

“Now there are more interview style phases of the competition,” Branch said, “Which has just been an extension of our private interview, so judges are free to ask anything like  a clarification of a question or a follow up to a question.” 

According to the newly updated Miss America website, during the competition, “candidates” will have opportunities to advocate for their social initiatives, as well as demonstrate how they are uniquely qualified for the job of Miss America.

A contestant’s personal interview will count 20 percent. The on-stage interview during preliminaries will count 15 percent and on the final night 25 percent.

Also, the eveningwear competition will include an interview aspect, as well as a final conversation with finalist on the night of the crowning.

Therefore, in an effort to be prepared for all interviewing phases, Branch said she has been doing mock interviews, where she practices answering questions from a panel.

“I did those periodically, and when I was not doing a mock interview, I worked with someone on different topics — how to answer certain questions and learning how to be prepared for whatever you may be thrown at any interview,” she said.

Also in preparation for the competition, Branch said she has had to pull together her wardrobe.

“There are so many clothes. We are there for 12 days and there are multiple outfit changes throughout each day,” she said, “So I just have to make sure I have everything I need for everyday and rehearsals. I don’t want to run out of clothes!”

Nine members of the Miss Mississippi Pageant organization will be making the trip to Atlantic City, as well as many others to cheer on Branch.

“My Mom is coming,” she said, in addition to a brother from Nashville, relatives from Michigan, two best friends from Booneville and a couple of Miss Mississippi contestants.

“Ole Miss is also sending some people from the Meek School of Journalism to cover me throughout the week, and WTVA in Tupelo is sending two reporters up there throughout the week, so there will be a lot of familiar faces there,” Branch said, which will provide a good fan base for Miss Mississippi.

Support from Dad

Although he won’t be in attendance, Branch is certain her father will be supporting her in spirit.

“He is excited and wants me to win,” she said.

Branch is the child of an incarcerated parent, and although initially this made her life challenging, she has turned it around for good and is making it her mission to be an advocate for children of incarcerated parents.

She recently had the opportunity to visit her dad, she said.

“He was super excited (I had been crowned Miss Mississippi) because he knows how hard I have worked for this and how bad I wanted it,” she said.

Branch said her father was also interested in how things were going in preparation for the national title.

“He asked, ‘Well, are you ready? And I said, ‘well, I am getting there.’”

It is apparent that this father and daughter have a unique bond because during her visit, Branch said; her dad also reminded her “God is your center and things will work out.”

And in listening to her father’s direction, Branch said, she plans to remain focused and optimistic even though there is some negativity swirling around the Miss America competition this year.

“I just think it is important for people to remember what the Miss America Organization is truly about — the exceptional young women that compete at every level,” Branch said.

“Life isn’t fair, life isn’t perfect and there will always be some negativity somewhere, but I think we should always try to find the positive in every situation.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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