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A Year As Miss America

Nia was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She says, “Faith was a huge part of her life.” Her parents took her to church and taught her Christian values at an early age. In 2011, during Nia’s college freshman year at East Carolina University, her father was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. During this difficult time, she relied on her faith to carry her through. Two years later she became her father’s stem cell donor. This turn of events led Nia to the Miss America Organization in 2016. “I had to find a way to pay for myself to go to school and so I entered this competition and this organization, and it became much more than just the scholarship money for me, it was also about the mentorship, leadership and sisterhood you find in this program,” shares Nia.

Today Nia’s dad is cancer free.

At the age of 24, Nia was crowned Miss Five Boroughs. She also competed twice in the North Carolina pageant to win the state title and did not win, plus she aged out. When she moved to New York she found out the age limit to participate had been raised and she was able to compete again. She knew that was a God thing. Nia won Miss New York 2018 and went on to be crowned Miss America 2019 on September 9, 2018 in Atlantic City, New Jersey by the outgoing Miss America 2018, Cara Mund. Along with the coveted title of Miss America, Nia won a $50,000 scholarship. Nia, a gifted singer/songwriter, who has written over 100 songs, sang “Quando m’en Vo'” from Puccini’s La Boheme for the competition. “There were so many talented women in the competition,” shares Nia. Her faith was a source of comfort to her and kept her strong.

Miss America 2.0 was the first Miss America pageant to be held without a swimsuit competition. She told the Associated Press she was glad she didn't have to wear a bikini because it allowed her to eat a little more. Nia shares, "These changes, I think, will be great for our organization. I've already seen so many young women reaching out to me personally as Miss New York asking how they can get involved because I think they feel more empowered that they don't have to do things such as walk in a swimsuit for a scholarship. And I'm happy that I didn't have to do so to win this title tonight because I'm more than just that. And all these women onstage are more than just that." Although the organization maintains the same core values they are incorporating changes to reflect the modern woman. Nia will crown Miss America 2020 on December 19, 2019. The competition will air live on NBC.

Throughout her year as Miss America, Nia has been promoting her social impact initiative Advocating for the Arts through appearances at colleges and universities, performing with orchestras and operas across the country, at arts schools and holding master classes. At the invitation of the New York Philharmonic, she hosted their “Phil the Hall” and was named by the New York Times as the perfect host for the program which opens up classical music to all through free programming. Among other events, she has been a part of the NY Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera's opening nights, was keynote speaker for the Center for Education Reform and the Lincoln Center’s Summer Music Forum and has worked with Sing for Hope, a nonprofit organization focused on transforming lives by using the power of the arts to help bring music to every corner of New York City and beyond, to promote the arts among disadvantaged students. As Miss America, Nia has also brought joy to hundreds of children being treated at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as the National Goodwill Ambassador for CMN. In keeping with the Miss America Organization’s longstanding relationship with the military, Nia has also spent time supporting men and women in uniform including a 4th of July USO Tour to Germany, Africa, Kuwait, and Spain.

After her time as Miss America Nia will continue to promote her social initiative as well as the organization she founded called Compose Her which is dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and highlighting female composers and musicians.

America’s top pageants have broken racial barriers in recent decades, but following Nia’s win of Miss America 2019, Cheslie Kryst, 28, won the Miss USA contest, and Kaliegh Garris, 18, won Miss Teen USA. This became the first year in American history all three major American pageants were won by African Americans women. The wins show how American view on beauty has evolved. “It is important to little brown and black girls to see three strong figures, three strong African-American women that are doing so much great work,” shares Nia.

Mentioned in the Video



Guest Info


Miss America 2019

Artist partner with Sing for Hope

National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network

Graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in music composition

Master’s in music composition from University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Awarded Kenan Fellowship


Founder of Compose Her


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