AU grad student places third runner-up in Miss America pageant
Despite losing her voice during competition week, Briana Kinsey finished fourth
Briana Kinsey, an American University graduate student who was named Miss D.C. in June, took the Miss America stage Sept. 10 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was named third runner-up -- fourth place -- out of 50 contestants from around the country.
“I was really excited to be able to represent the D.C. area well,” Kinsey, a pre-med student, told The Eagle after the pageant.
Kinsey, a seasoned competitor who has been involved in pageantry since she was 14 years old, described the experience as a whirlwind.
“For the live show, it goes by so quickly that you don’t have time to process the fact that you’re competing in front of millions of people,” Kinsey said, adding that the celebrity judges added a layer of nerves she doesn’t usually experience.
“Jordin Sparks was a huge role model for me, so being judged by her was incredible,” she said.
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Although the televised part of the competition was only one night, the two weeks leading up to the competition were packed with rehearsals and bonding experiences for the participants, Kinsey said.
“Everyone stays in a different host hotel in groups of six or seven, so I got really close to my host moms and the girls who were in my host group,” Kinsey said during a phone interview, her voice raspy from long days spent practicing her talent portion: a vocal performance of BeBe Winans’ “Born For This.”
“Unfortunately, I lost my voice the week competition started,” Kinsey said. “Looking back on it, I don’t think it affected any of the goals going into the pageant or my ideals, which was perseverance.”
Kinsey was accompanied in Atlantic City by her family, who watched the competition live. She also had a base of AU students cheering her on from Washington.
Emily Curtis, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, met Kinsey during the Miss D.C. pageant when they were both competing. Like Kinsey, Curtis has competed in pageants since she was 14.
“I immediately thought she was really nice,” Curtis said. “She was just very friendly and I could tell she had been doing pageants for a while.”
Curtis is originally from New Hampshire, where she started competing. During most years, Curtis said, the New Hampshire contestant in the national competition doesn’t make it to the top 15.
”But this year, to know someone [who made it to the finals] and watch her do as well as she did was really amazing,” Curtis said. “I screamed a few times and I thought I was going to cry.”
Kinsey finished fourth behind Kaitlyn Schoeffel of New Jersey, Jennifer Davis of Missouri and Cara Mund of North Dakota, who was crowned Miss America. Kinsey offered her support and congratulations to Mund.
“I was very happy with the winner,” Kinsey said. “She is a very sweet, intelligent person.”
Looking back on her pageant experience, Kinsey was content with her performance despite the setbacks she faced.
“It was a learning lesson for me -- you have to continue to push on even when it’s not exactly what you had planned,” she said.