Interview with Myja Gary, Miss Black USA 2021

Interview with Myja Gary, Miss Black USA 2021

March 17, 2022
By Katerina Katakalides

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Myja Gary is a force to be reckoned with! This queen has persevered her way through the pageant and professional world to find success in both. As the reigning Miss Black USA and corporate communications manager at Zoom, Myja advocates for women in leadership through her platform, “Bridging the Gap.” Join us as we have a chat with Myja and help us show some love for Miss Black USA, a pageant sponsored by Queenly.

Katerina: “Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience? I know they must be so excited to see you, but just in case some of them might not know you yet, why not tell them a bit about yourself?”

Myja: “Absolutely! Hello, everyone! Thank you so much for having me! I’m Myja Gary, Miss Black USA, and through my platform “Bridging the Gap” I advocate for women in leadership through mentorship, career-readiness, and community building programs to essentially build the next generation of women leaders because Black girls run the world!”

K: “Yes! That is SO true! Platforms are so important as a titleholder but especially as a national titleholder. Is there anything you’ve done with your platform as a national titleholder that you want to share with the audience?”

M: “Actually, before I was crowned Miss Black USA, I did an event series, a women’s leadership event series, that consisted of a panel of women from all different industries to talk about how to secure a seat at the table and what it means to use your voice. How to secure a career in these industries, so we did women in tech, women in marketing, women in education, women in health and medicine, so it was dynamic.

This year, as Miss Black USA, I was able to mentor a lot of young ladies who are looking to get into the entertainment industry about how to get there, how to secure a role, who to network with, and who to talk to. This took place in Atlanta at the Revolt Summit and it was an incredible experience. So, just throughout my journey as Miss Black USA, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with women about what leadership means, how to get into different roles, networking, and what the career industry looks like. It’s been all about my platform and women in leadership and it’s been awesome.”

K: “That is so exciting! We need more women to step up to the plate and be leaders. It’s so amazing that you’re not only a role model but also leading by example. Aside from being Miss Black USA, because we all know that being a titleholder is a job within itself, is there anything you can let us know about your career path?”

M; “Professionally, I’m a corporate communications manager at Zoom. So, yes, the Zoom you think about.”

M: “Yes, that Zoom! It’s been an incredible experience so far. If I can just sum up my role, I’m a strategic advisor and communication consultant to internal stakeholders and executive leaders regarding all things HR, people, culture, experiences, all those good things. It’s been a journey! Zoom has been growing like crazy and it’s an amazing time to be at a company that's growing so fast, but that works towards keeping families connected in these unprecedented times. So, amazing time so far!”

K: “Wow! It sounds like you do so many important things and I love that you’re leading by example. You’re clearly successful in both the pageant and professional world but, let’s dive deeper into the pageant side. You don’t just become Miss Black USA overnight, so can you tell us a bit about the journey to becoming such a prominent national titleholder?”

M: “Absolutely! I am a pageant veteran as they call it. I started in high school, I actually did the USA National Miss pageant in Virginia and I can’t remember where I placed. It might’ve been fourth runner up, but it was my very first pageant. From there, I absolutely loved it. I love being on stage, I love public speaking, I love talking to people about the things that I want to do to make our world better. I grew up watching the Miss USAs and Miss Universes and I knew I wanted to be on that stage one day. So, I started there in high school, and then I went to an HBCU and I did the Miss Black and Gold pageant. For those who might not know, HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and for our HBCUs, the king and queen are a part of the student government.

So, there’s a Miss and Mister from each HBCU and again, I ran for that position at my school and I was fortunate enough to win. I was then Miss North Carolina A&T State University for a year. Then from there, all of the HBCUs compete against each other for the title of Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame or for short, Miss HBCU. So, I went on to compete in the Miss HBCU pageant and I placed 1st Runner Up. From there, I graduated and really focused on continuing my education, so I went on and got my Master’s and jumped straight into the workforce. But, I knew this was something I wanted to do one more time. After researching several pageant systems, this one fit the best. Miss Black USA is the one that fits me the best. I went for it and fortunately I was able to win and take the crown home and become Miss Black USA 2021. That’s my pageant journey!”

K: “Perseverance clearly pays off and it’s so important to find the pageant that fits you. What about the Miss Black USA system resonated with you when you were in that search for the perfect pageant?”

M: “That’s a great question and I spoke about my pageant experience, but I am a true true advocate for women, but especially Black women. That’s really why I chose to compete for Miss Black USA because my values aligned with their values. The Miss Black USA system is all about uplifting women of color, uplifting Black women, pushing us to use our voice, to own our power, our different traits, our different shades, just the things that are unique about us. That really, really stood out to me. I wanted to be very intentional about being that representation for women, but especially Black women. So, to get on that stage and to see the other women who wear their hair just as natural as I do, the other girls who are curvy just like me, the other girls who are different shades of brown just like me, was so, so inspiring and so, so empowering.”

K: “You truly are an inspiration! Your reign is about halfway through, what has been the highlight as Miss Black USA so far?”

M: “That’s such a tough question! If you don’t mind I’ll give you a couple of things. One of the highlights of my journey so far, not too long ago, let me start with this, I’m the first contestant from Virginia to win the national title and that was huge for me! I did not know that but, it was a fact that they threw out there and I knew I had to put it on for the Virginia girls. So, a news anchor from my hometown reached out to me and interviewed me and it aired not too long ago. It wasn’t even about the love and support that I got, but that I was able to put Virginia on the map and represent for Virginia. I was able to make all the folks that I went to school with, my family, my peers that are still there, the little girls that are watching me on the TV, it’s the fact that I was able to make them proud.

So many people were reaching out to tell me that they saw me on TV and I loved that I could still be reachable and accessible and that people are able to relate to me. I’m so proud and that feels really good for me. Another thing is that our director at Miss Black USA is so invested in me, so, so, invested in me. We throw around this word mentor, but when you really have a true mentor that’s invested in you and wants to see you win and wants to create those seats at the table is the real thing. It really just warms my heart to have people who genuinely want to see you win.”

K: “That is so rare and so amazing! Are there any parting messages you want to leave for those reading, perhaps some advice or inspiring words for a young girl who might want to see herself in your shoes one day?”

M: “I just want to say be strong, be confident, be fearless, chase your dreams, go after it, nothing is impossible, nothing is impossible.”

K: “I hope everyone takes that to heart, especially from someone who has persevered so much to be so successful professionally and in pageantry, especially at the same time. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy reign to chat with us!”

M: “Thank you for having me!”

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