Being crowned Miss USA 2020 must not have been an easy feat, but Asya Branch made it look effortless and flawless. Asya is a Mississippi native who has always used her platform to inspire and influence others positively.
I had the pleasure to interview Asya to ask her some questions about being in the public eye in 2023, being inspirational and influential, and remaining true to herself. As we all know, being in the public eye can be difficult; however, Asya navigates it all with so much poise!
Want to hear what we conversed about? Keep reading below!
What does it mean to be an inspirational woman to you?
Honestly, being an inspirational woman is still something that is unbelievable to me at times. I remember being the young girl inspired by so many women in the public eye and longing for that to be me someday. Never did I think that vision would become a reality. It truly is a blessing to know that I have been able to positively influence the lives of people around the world. I am honored to be in a position to set an example for the younger generation, be a voice for the unheard, and shine a light on things that matter most to me.
Who was the first woman to inspire you and why did you inspire you? What did she do? Do you think she shaped the way in which you inspire women today?
Music has been a huge part of my life since as far back as I can remember. I would put on concerts in my living room for my family. I always had my karaoke machine going on full blast. I even had a Hello Kitty radio player that I pretty much never turned off. I was so inspired by Beyonce. I had every CD both Beyonce and Destiny’s Child, knew the words to every song, and pretended that I was Beyonce most of the time. Not only did I see myself reflected in her, but I loved her work ethic. She began at a young age and rose to the top. I remember telling my family when I was just 4 years old that I wanted to be the next Beyonce. But as the years went by and I found new interests, she still inspired me because she was always putting her best foot forward. It was like she ate, slept, and breathed greatness. I knew that was the approach that I wanted to have with any and everything that I did in life. I had always hoped that I would be able to inspire others in the way that I was inspired by Beyonce. Having pageant contestants come up to me and message me saying that I’m the reason that they decided to compete is all the confirmation that I need to know that I’m on the right track and accomplishing that goal.
(Photo credit: @asyadanielle on Instagram)
When did you first realize that you were inspirational and influential?
I grew up with younger sisters so I always knew that what I did was influential to them, but I didn’t realize the reach that I would have beyond them and how inspirational it would end up being. It wasn’t until I was standing in a women’s jail in 2017 sharing my experiences with parental incarceration that I began to realize that I could have an impact on the lives of many. I vividly remember standing in front of a mother and with tears in her eyes she said “you give me hope for my daughter”. It took everything in me to not lose my composure. I realized then that what I was doing was so much deeper and powerful than I had ever imagined it could be. I was not only inspiring incarcerated parents to not give up hope and to stay involved with their loved ones, but I was also inspiring other children of incarcerated parents to not become a statistic. I wanted them to see that I have been in their shoes and I overcame those same obstacles; they have the power to do it too. From there it didn’t stop. Becoming the first African American Miss Mississippi USA, then the first Miss Mississippi USA to win Miss USA. I was able to make history twice proving that no dream is too far out of reach regardless of your background. I will continue making strides to inspire those that look up to me.
Instagram can sometimes make us compare our lives to others. How do you manage to remain influential and true to yourself in the midst of putting yourself out there?
We have to remember that Instagram is typically a highlight reel that gives you the freedom to show the world what you want them to see of your life. We can’t compare ourselves to the things we see on social media because very rarely do people post the lows in their lives. It is so easy to be sucked into your social media feed and all the trends, so I personally limit the time I spend on social media overall. I get on to post and to respond to messages and comments; I do very minimal scrolling, typically just enough to catch up with those closest to me. Besides having the realization that not everything on social media is raw and real, another way to minimize comparison is by controlling what you see. We have the power to unfollow and hide things that we don’t want to see, so use that to your advantage and remove things that put you in a comparison or negative state of mind. The power is at your fingertips.
If you could give your younger self one bit of advice, what would you tell her?
The greatest advice I could give my younger self would be to not shy away from your true self. It is so easy as young people to try to do everything you can to fit in, but standing out is what truly makes us special. I didn’t always embrace the best things about myself because I was too concerned about what others thought of me and how those things made me different. But as I’ve grown older, I realize that these differences are what made me unique. When we learn to accept and embrace our differences and what sets us apart, that’s when we gain true self confidence, which is truly inspiring.
Asya’s path, in itself, is awe-inspiring! She shows us that determination, embracing your uniqueness, and pushing through the obstacles that life brings due to your circumstances is the key to achieving your dreams.
You can find Asya here on Instagram! On her Instagram, she continues to take us on the journey of her life through fabulous photos of her adventures!
(Photo credit: @asyadanielle on Instagram)