Miss America Nia Franklin Talks Cutting Swimsuit Portion From Competition

"Being there and not having to worry about being bloated that week from eating too much, it was really nice because it can be really stressful for a lot of girls just having that extra pressure on top making sure you're speaking well," Franklin told The Hollywood Reporter.

Miss America Nia Franklin was crowned shortly after a highly debated evolution in the Miss America Organization that axed the swimsuit portion of the telecast and rebranded the long-running pageant as a competition.

Franklin told The Hollywood Reporter that after three years of being a part of the organization, she had her initial apprehensions, but wound up embracing the changes prior to receiving her newly cemented title. 

“I just decided to go with it,” said Franklin. “There was no swimsuit [portion] this year and that was something I came to grips with a little bit before the competition, but being there and not having to be worried about being bloated that week from eating too much or anything like that was really nice because that can be stressful for a lot of girls.” 

Franklin recounted the most nerve-wracking 10 minutes of her life that were spent in a private room being interviewed by the judges and deemed it the most stressful portion of the completion. 

“A lot of people in the pageant world will say, ‘The interview is not won on stage, it is won in that room.’ If you can get those judges to understand what type of person you are, the things you want to do in your community and what you want to bring to the title should you win, that’s when they see the real you,” says Franklin. 

Franklin, a classically trained opera singer, explained that sharing her talent has always come naturally but being able to do it in front of a national audience meant that a larger message could be communicated. 

“I think it was important to showcase that as a young woman, as an African-American woman, you can sing opera. [I have found that there is a] stereotype that black people don’t sing opera. I wanted to break down those stereotypes on national television.” 

Miss New York also discussed her plans for the immediate future that include lobbying in Washington for a cause that hits close to home. Franklin, an impassioned veteran of the arts, plans to raise awareness for programs that foster creativity in schools, such as music. 

“They make you feel included. For me, it was being a minority at my school and feeling out of place a lot of the time,” said Franklin. 

Once an outlier in her own school system, the newly crowned Miss America noted that there is a 20 percent higher graduation rate when music is incorporated into school programs and the arts receive proper funding. 

“Thankfully, I did have the arts in my school and it always made me feel like I had a place, like I had a family, a voice.”

Watch the interview above to hear Franklin describe her initial reaction to being crowned, why you can push boundaries if you hail from New York and more.