The pageant winner is a domestic violence advocate and first-generation American
There she is, Miss America.
Miss New York Kira Kazantsev came out on top Sunday night, taking home the beauty pageant’s tiara after showcasing her beauty, brains and very hip talent.
Here are five things to know about the 23-year-old stunner:
1. She’s living the American dream.
Kazantsev is the daughter of Russian immigrants who moved to the United States from Moscow before she was born. Though she represented New York in the pageant, she was raised all across the country, from San Francisco to San Antonio. “Living in different places gave me perspective on what matters most: people,” she says in an Overture video.
2. Her next step? Law school.
Elle Woods has nothing on this beauty queen. She hopes to become a lawyer to make “real change in the world,” she says in the video. Kazantsev has already been accepted by Fordham University’s law school.
3. She’s a big fan of Pitch Perfect.
Anna Kendrick better watch her back. Kazantsev can do a mean version of her own cup song, a skill she proved while singing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and banging a red plastic cup on the stage during the talent portion of the competition.
4. She’s a survivor.
As a student at Hofstra University, Kazantsev found herself in an abusive relationship – a revelation that resonates with many Americans given the NFL’s recent suspension of Ray Rice. “I want people to stop asking, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ ” she told NPR. “Every woman is an expert in her own case, and there are so many extenuating circumstances that lead to a woman staying with her abuser.” Now, Kazantsev is using her experience to help others, working with the domestic violence advocacy group Safe Horizon.
5. She just made history.
Kazantsev’s win marks the third year in a row that Miss New York nabbed the crown. Syracuse’s Nina Davuluri wore the coveted sash last year (she was also the first-ever Miss America of Indian heritage), and Brooklyn’s Mallory Hytes Hagan started the good luck streak the year before.
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