Is Nina Davuluri 'American Enough' To Be Miss America?

Nina Davuluri says Miss America — whom she's always seen as the girl next door — is evolving. i i

hide captionNina Davuluri says Miss America — whom she's always seen as the girl next door — is evolving.

Brian McCabe /NPR
Nina Davuluri says Miss America — whom she's always seen as the girl next door — is evolving.

Nina Davuluri says Miss America — whom she's always seen as the girl next door — is evolving.

Brian McCabe /NPR

Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, took the crown in this year's Miss America beauty pageant. It was the 87th year of the competition, and Davuluri was one of two Asian-Americans in the final round. Although she's just a few days into her reign, Davuluri has already made history. She's the first Indian-American Miss America.

Her win highlights how far the U.S. has come, but also how far the country has to go: Racist tweets flooded in on Twitter right after her victory.

Miss America told Tell Me More host Michel Martin about the moment she was crowned, redefining American beauty and more.


Interview Highlights

Being the first Miss America of South Asian descent

I have always viewed Miss America as the girl next door, but the girl next door is evolving as the diversity in America evolves. She's not who she was 10 years ago, and she's not going to be the same person come 10 years down the road.

Reacting to ugly tweets

It's a difficult situation, and that was something I experienced even as Miss New York. That being said, for every one negative tweet or comment that I have seen or received, I have received dozens of positive words of encouragement, support and love.

Representing New York on 9/11

One of the preliminary rounds of competition fell on Sept. 11. To stand on that stage and announce myself as Miss New York, and I said the Freedom Tower stands tall as a symbol of our nation's resilience and unity. Just having that experience was so meaningful and so special.

Following in the footsteps of the first black Miss America, Vanessa Williams

Well first let me just comment on Vanessa Williams, because she was a former Miss Syracuse, and I was also a former Miss Syracuse. We both went on to win the Miss New York title in two very historic Miss Americas. It was exactly 30 years ago to the date, Sept. 15, we were both crowned. So that's just so surreal.

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