A total of 69 women took to the Ford Center stage last night to compete in the Parade of Beauties. Judges selected sophomore broadcast journalism major Asya Branch as “Most Beautiful 2018.”
Branch is from Booneville and said she enjoys singing, dancing and traveling.
She said she was in awe after her win and struggled to form words.
“I think Most Beautiful is truly about what’s inside, as well as what’s outside and how you come across on stage and in an interview and everything,” Branch said.
Branch’s boyfriend, sister and friends were in the audience cheering her on. Freshman business administration major Bryan Johnson said he and Branch have known each other since middle school and have been dating for two years.
“I knew she was going to win,” Johnson said. “I’m super excited for her to compete for Miss Mississippi – she’s turned me into a pageant boyfriend.”
Branch’s friend Shauna Dickey said she was losing her voice from screaming so loudly during the pageant.
“She’s gorgeous inside and out and presents herself so well,” Dickey said. “I’m so proud of her.”
Jujuan McGee, Branch’s older sister, said she followed her since the beginning of her journey competing in beauty pageants and couldn’t be more proud of her win.
Contestants in the 67th annual Parade of Beauties, hosted by the Student Activities Association, were interviewed privately before the pageant by a panel of four judges. The interviews counted as 10 percent of their total scores.
The evening gown competition – which evaluated stage presence, poise, physical fitness, personality and overall beauty – counted for the other 90 percent.
Contestants were escorted by members of Ole Miss ROTC. There was a tie for the top 10 finalists, bringing the total to a top 11 out of the 69 contestants.
The beauty contest was emceed by Miss University 2018, Charley Ann Nix, and Most Beautiful 2017, Blair Wortsmith.
Branch will continue on to compete in Miss Mississippi.