Bayleigh Dayton, a 25-year-old flight attendant and model, is making history as the first African American woman to be crowned Miss Missouri USA. She originally entered the pageant circuit in 2013 wanting to achieve the title then. When she didn’t, she kept on going until she won. Talk about bad ass perseverance.
This week Dayton was awarded her crown and the prestigious title of Miss Missouri USA 2017. Here’s her epic, winning moment:
“There are no words to explain how blessed I feel,” she wrote in an Instagram post announcing her win. “I made history and became the 1st ever African American title holder in the state of Missouri!”
In an interview with KansasCity.com, the Baylor University graduate explained that she made it to the top 16 during the 2013 pageant, but this year, the challenges of pageants past weren’t as prevalent.
“Last year when I entered, I knew that my road to pageantry wasn’t finished,” Dayton said. “When I made top five last year I knew that I could do this. The insecurities weren’t there. It was easier for me to focus this year.”
Dayton will advance to the Miss USA pageant next year, and in the meantime, plans to make an impact on her community thanks to her newfound title.
“It’s awesome to be able to put a face with a title,” she said. “I’m obviously the first African-American titleholder in this position. Now girls have someone to look up to and can have an actual role model.”
As for anyone else who’s trying to make their way through the pageant world, Dayton offers a word of advice: “Learn to walk with kinds and queens but never lose the common touch,” she said. “I want everybody to know that yes, I am a queen, but I am a queen for the people and aI am here to serve.”