On August 12th, in New York City, hundreds of people gathered to attend The Miss Nigeria USA pageant, and it was as elegant as you can imagine. The Miss Nigeria USA was established in 2014 with the aim of celebrating the Nigerian woman while appreciating the beauty, talent, skills and other unique attributes and goals she exhibits. According to its founder, Joy Fakhoury, the pageant provides a unique opportunity to display the richness and cultural ethnic values of the Nigerian community and makes a significant contribution to our society by providing the young ladies an unforgettable experience in a successful program which promotes them as productive individuals within their communities. The winner of the competition is awarded $10,000 meant to be used for a community service project of their choice in Nigeria.
The 16 contestants this year represented their respective regional origins in Nigeria including, Ondo State, Delta, Enugu, Lagos, Ekiti, Abuja, Anambra, and more. It was hosted by the hilarious duo, Mama Sade and Miss Ayodelay (who tried to feed the world with her…nvm).
The Judges were Ty Hunter (celebrity stylist), Millen Magese (beauty queen), Asumoh Enyiema (entrepreneur), Efemena Adabamu (media personality), Wura Kolawole (1st runner-up, 2015) and Isaac Boateng (entrepreneur).
For the first round, all of the contestants had to impress the judges with their walks in bathing suits, traditional wear, and evening wear. During this round, Ms. Rivers State had an overwhelming response from the crowd, putting her in the light as a viable competitor for the crown.
Ten finalists remained and it was now time for them to showcase their talents. The standout performance of this round was by Ayoyemi Ajimatanrareje aka Ms. Ondo. Ms. Ondo kicked things off with a dramatic stage set up, she started playing her piano and singing, then bursted into an amazing monologue about her life, parents, religion, and Nigeria. Not to mention she was the only contestant that did not wear makeup and had her natural hair out. She received a standing ovation and was a clear crowd favorite.
After the talent showcase, only 6 contestants remained–Cross Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, and Bayelsa. These contestants were now faced with the task of answering the judges’ tough questions about the state of Nigeria and its social and ethical issues within the country and around the world. Every contestant had very intelligent and genuine answers to each question and it made the competition even tighter.
And then there were 3; Miss Ondo State, Miss Lagos, and Miss Akwa Ibom. Each of them now had to answer the same question, “Why should you be the next Miss Nigeria USA?”. Again, each contestant delivered brilliant answers. However, Miss Lagos spoke with such passion and vigor, that it moved the crowd.
The judges eventually chose Miss Akwa Ibom, Idara Inokon as the winner, Miss Ondo, Ayoyemi Ajimatanrareje, as the first runner-up, Miss Lagos, Susan Adeyemi, as the second runner-up, and Miss Rivers, Lucy Edosomwan, as Miss Congeniality.
Idara is a registered nurse in the U.S. and born to a Nigerian father from Akwa Ibom. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science and Psychology and attended the Accelerated Nursing Program at the University of Delaware and graduated in 2014, and is currently a masters student in Family Nursing. It was well deserved but some members of the crowd saw it as an upset over Miss Ondo. All in all, congratulations to all the contestants that are putting on for Nigeria in such a beautiful light!
Stay tuned for our video interviews with the crowd and contestants!
All photography by @kanmiwest