For the first time in the 70-plus year history of statewide pageants being held in Jackson, a minority came away with the crown.
Miss Lane College Jada Brown was named Miss Tennessee Volunteer 2023, winning over 35 other ladies in the competition.
“This is so unexpected,” Brown said after the win that was followed by close to 100 photos taken on stage with various people involved with the pageant by official photographer Darren Lykes. “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of people to look up to in this world that looked like me, so to have the opportunity to be that person for the next generation coming up after me is very special and not anything I won’t take lightly.”
As far as the Miss Lane College is concerned, Brown, who is from Tampa, Fla., made history early in the show when she was named one of 16 finalists.
Miss Lane College returned to the Miss Tennessee/Miss Tennessee Volunteer pageant in 2018, and none of Brown’s predecessors had been named past the round of 16 in the past five years.
During finals night, the list of competitors is narrowed from 36 to 16 followed by another run through the fitness competition, then 12 followed by talent performances again, 10 with another walk on the stage in the evening gown competition and finally five where the remaining contestants answer questions taken from a bowl.
Brown was the seventh finalist named in the first 16. Then she was fifth in the top 12, third in the top 10 but she was the final name announced when it came to the top five.
“I didn’t expect my name to be called the first time, so anytime my name was called, I was just grateful and surprised,” Brown said.
Then came the time for the question-and-answer portion of the competition. Because Brown was announced last of the top five, she was the last one to answer a question, which for her was “How do you convince those who think pageants are demeaning to women that they’re not?”
Her answer said that pageants are actually empowering for women, and she plans to let people know that now that she’s officially Miss Tennessee Volunteer during her speaking engagements.
Brown is officially the Governor’s spokesperson for character education, which means her schedule for the next year will be full of appearances at schools across the state, speaking to classes and at student assemblies.
She’s a senior at Lane who also has played volleyball in previous years.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com