UmaSofia Srivastava of New Jersey is Miss Teen USA 2023!

And it's a first win for New Jersey and it's a back to back win for a delegate of half-Indian descent for the first time in history! That great name of UmaSofia Srivistava of New Jersey has captured the 2023 Miss Teen USA crown for the garden state at only 16 years old! Last year's winner, Nebraska's Faron Medhi has an Indian father and Caucasian mother and this year's winner, New Jersey's UmaSofia Srivastava has an Indian father but a Mexican mother and she has them to thank for her exotic great looks and she definitely has that cute teen look to her. She attends the Academy of St. Elizabeth and she authored and illustrated a book called 'The White Jaguar' based on her dad's nickname for her 'Little Jaguar' and the book includes the four languages that she speaks which are: English, Spanish, Hindi and French. Other awards won included New Jersey winning the state costume competition (in addition to the whole competition!), New York-overall interview, Ohio-overall photogenic, Mississippi- overall evening gown and Florida-most impactful. This is New Jersey's first win but their next highest placement was as 1st runner up in 2007 accomplished by Alyssa Campanella who would later go on to win Miss USA 2011.

Ruth Zakarian-Miss Teen USA 1983 and Laylah RoseThe decision to hold Miss USA and Miss Teen USA concurrently was made in 2018. 2023 was the first Miss Teen USA pageant under the new directorship of Laylah Rose Loiczly who was involved with the Miss Earth USA system and is a fashion designer with her line, Laylah Rose Couture. This year was a time crunch since it was only officially announced that Laylah would be president taking over from Crystle Stewart-Miss USA 2008 who directed for 2021 and 2022. The Miss Universe Organization was responsible for Miss USA and Miss Teen USA prior to 2021 and they temporarily took back ownership after an investigation was conducted following the 2022 Miss USA pageant with some of the delegates bringing forth accusations about the cards being stacked in the favor of Crystle's fellow Texan, R'Bonney Gabriel who won Miss USA 2022 and there were some accusations of Crystle's husband acting inappropriately with some of the non-placing delegates but he was not credited for 2022 and the investigation results were delivered to the other 2022 Miss USA delegates by Miss Universe organization president, Paula Shugart saying there was no wrongdoing found and R'Bonney would stay as Miss USA 2022 and of course, she would go on to win Miss Universe 2022 as well. Some issues with this year's Miss Teen USA pageant was that the preliminaries weren't livestreamed but were available on youtube the next day and the finals were only available on or the CW app which wasn't available in Canada but the CW channel itself is available in Canada so I hope the CW can spare 2 hours to air Miss Teen USA next year but Miss Teen USA has only been webcast since 2008. 2007 was the last to air on NBC.

The pageant was held in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada and tickets became available quite late which explains the many empty seats when we saw the shots of the audience so this year's time crunch and the late announcement of the actual date really affected the audience this year but hopefully, we'll see improvement on all that next year. The delegates made their way to the stage set to Dua Lipa's 'Dance the Night' from the recent hit Barbie movie. Then we met the host, Justin Sylvester of E! News and there was segment to introduce Laylah Rose and we met the judges: Emily Shah-Miss New Jersey USA 2014 (who placed among the top 20 at Miss USA 2014 and also happens to be a New Jersey representative who is half-Indian on her father's side like the new Miss Teen USA, UmaSofia), Katie Cazorla, Tabitha Swatosh, Mindy Mahy of Kopu Water and celebrating the 40th anniversary of her win, the very first Miss Teen USA, New York's Ruth Zakarian who happens to be the state of this year's 1st runner up! It was wonderful to see Ruth honored like this and I should note that Ruth was a judge for Miss Teen USA 1992, then going under the professional name, Devon Pierce. In Ruth's era, Miss Teen USA was allowed to compete for Miss USA if she met the age requirement as she did compete at Miss USA 1984 going unplaced. Interestingly enough, Nevada's Nia Sanchez-Miss USA 2014 and USA's Shree Saini (1st runner up at Miss World 2021/22) were previously listed as judges but weren't anymore a few days before the pageant for unknown reasons but I think we would have ended up with the same winner if they were judges. Then, we met our color commentators, Chris Persky and reigning Miss Teen USA, Faron Medhi who did a fine job and then we met the top 20.

In terms of my predictions, Teen can sometimes be so random and this felt like one of those years. I picked 11 of the top 20 plus 3 alternates: Georgia, South Carolina, District of Columbia and 1 honorable mention: Virginia. The 5 ladies I missed entirely were: Pennsylvania who was literally the highest next tier delegate for me and she ended up being second runner up, Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Rhode Island. My 9 picks that didn't place were: my winner-Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Florida, Delaware, South Dakota and West Virginia. What happened to my ladies that didn't place? Arizona just has this glow about her and her curly hair similar to Ashley Coleman-Miss Teen USA 1999 made her a standout and I was getting winner vibes from seeing crowning pics of when she won her state title. She was very experienced in pageantry even being a Miss Junior High America winner in 2019. Maybe she was at a disadvantage alphabetically as none of the A states placed but she could also have been in the way of a desired result perhaps. Nevada was stunning with an amazing gown and she seemed like fun but I think she probably would have done better with a male panel of judges. Louisiana's name was pure Blyss and she looked amazing in her white gown but perhaps it was interview? Arkansas speaks very well and also has a great overall look so she also may have suffered from going early as an A state. New Mexico was half-Filipina and even met Miss Universe president, Paula Shugart during the 2016/17 Miss Universe pageant held in Manila, Philippines and she had a sweet demeanor so I thought she was a sure thing but I guess not! Florida was a favorite of others but I didn't really see it for some reason. Delaware was a really great speaker with a great look but I think the legs looked shorter somehow. South Dakota looked very tall and modelesque and we have seen these types place at Teen before but perhaps it was interview. Finally, West Virginia had a great overall look with her hot pink gown but we don't see the preliminary interviews which are worth 50 percent of the preliminary score so Teen especially is usually harder to predict.



Winner=New Jersey-UmaSofia Srivastava

Winner=Arizona-Peyton Stuewe

1st Runner Up=New York-Stephanie Skinner

1st Runner Up=Ohio-Carolina Sola*

2nd Runner Up=Pennsylvania-Maggie Ross

2nd Runner Up=Nevada-Emily Cox

3rd Runner Up=Texas-Haylee Puckett

3rd Runner Up=New York-Stephanie Skinner*

4th Runner Up=Ohio-Carolina Sola

4th Runner Up=Utah-Jocelyn Osmond*



California-Taliya Peiris

New Jersey-UmaSofia Srivastava*

District of Columbia-Asia Chisley

Oklahoma-Jaselyn Rossman*

Georgia-Denim Lovett

Louisiana-Averi Blyss Crawford

Illinois-Vivica Lewandowski

Arkansas-Mackenzie Scott

Iowa-Madeline Erickson

Iowa-Madeline Erickson*

Missouri-Madison Beck

Tennessee-Blye Allen*

North Dakota-Morgan Schwindt

Texas-Haylee Puckett*

Oklahoma-Jaselyn Rossman

Illinois-Vivica Lewandowski*

Rhode Island-Lola Paolissi §

New Mexico-Asia Rose Simpson

South Carolina-Kenlee McVay

Florida-Sharlysse Nelson

Tennessee-Blye Allen

Delaware-Molly Lavelle

Utah-Jocelyn Osmond

California-Taliya Peiris*

Virginia-Ashley Wang

South Dakota-Lindsey Pfingston

Washington-Mackenzie Kuiken

Missouri-Madison Beck*

Wisconsin-Shelby Hohneke

West Virginia-Lakyn Campbell

ALTERNATES: Mississippi, Georgia*, Alabama, South Carolina*, District of Columbia*


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Kentucky, Virginia*, Minnesota, North Carolina, Maryland

§ = won online vote

* = made actual top 20

After the top 20 were announced, we got a video segment showing the ladies in their state costumes and then it was on to the active wear competition with the ladies wearing a sportsbra and tight leggings and the competition was set to the songs 'Flowers' by Miley Cyrus and 'To The Moon' by JNR Choi and Sam Tompkins. First up was Pennsylvania standing out with her red hair and great abs and Pennsylvania was the most successful duo this year for both Miss and Teen with the Teen placing 2nd runner up and the Miss placing 3rd runner up! Next up was Illinois and Vivica is a legacy delegate being the daughter of Miss Illinois USA 1998-Mandy Jo Lane Lewandowski and Vivica was named after Vivica A. Fox who happened to be a judge for Miss USA this year so I hope the two Vivicas met while in Reno! South Carolina followed and she looked decent and tall. Virginia and her Miss both happened to be named Ashley and both placed! Ashley was one of the few delegates competing this year of Chinese descent and she has been dancing for many years so that certainly helped her give a great stage performance. Tennessee followed looking amazing with bouncy energy and that gorgeous curly hair. District of Columbia followed rocking a uniquely styled afro that was bigger on the sides than the top. Asia is also a talented cellist and figure skater. Washington followed and they placed for the first time since 2010 surprisingly both the Teen and Miss. I'm so used to Washington getting overlooked but I wasn't expecting this delegate to get the call since she was only a semifinalist for her state title in 2022 and a non-finalist in 2021. Next up was our winner, New Jersey lighting up the stage like only UmaSofia can with her cute teen look and unique ethnic background. Iowa followed and I'm glad I was able to eye Maddy as one of my semifinalists as she is a sports reporter and apart from her great overall look, I figured she would excel in interview. Oklahoma followed with some fierce turns and a strong presentation. Wisconsin followed and this is also one of the more ignored states similarly to Washington but both the Miss and Teen placed this year and I'm actually surprised I didn't have Shelby on my radar because I'm realizing she actually looks a lot like Katy Perry! New York followed and she looked great as expected being a former Miss High School America and here's an interesting plot-twist: Stephanie was 3rd runner up at Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2023 won by Maggie Ross before hopping to New York to win her state title but oddly enough, New York ended up placing 1st runner up over Pennsylvania (who originally beat her at the state level) who placed 2nd runner up! That's about as close as they get so it just goes to show a different pageant can have completely different results but sometimes they are right in sync! I was hoping that Stephanie would wear her hair like she did at her state pageant because it reminded of Utah's Loni Sorden who was 2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 1995 and you know I love a good throwback to the 90s which were the glory years for Miss Teen USA when I became a fan. Texas followed with a very bouncy ponytail and Texas was also successful as a duo with the Teen placing 3rd runner up and the Miss placing 4th runner up so they were very close to Pennsylvania's duo this year. Missouri followed and she is yet another one that competed in other pageant systems like Miss High School America and America’s National Miss so she was indeed one to watch. North Dakota followed and I didn't really notice her before but she was a decent delegate and one of the more pleasant surprises. Georgia followed and she wasn't a total surprise but I think she was more under the radar but I can see why she placed. California was the first delegate from her state of Sri Lankan descent and she did know how to make herself noticed working the stage. Ohio followed as one of the big favorites of this pageant with her short hair and that perfect cute teen look and being of Filipina descent, Carolina certainly had pageantry in her blood and she did not disappoint at all and she was an easy top 5 pick for most people. Utah followed and she was probably the most fascinating delegate this year as the original winner of Miss Utah Teen USA, Anjolie Karmen stepped down causing runner-up Jocelyn to step up into the role of Miss Utah Teen USA and Jocelyn has some very notable family members as she is a legacy candidate being the daughter of Miss Utah Teen USA 1994, Heather Henderson and Jared Virl Osmond who is the son of George Virl Osmond Jr. who is the oldest brother of Donny and Marie Osmond! Donny and Marie hosted Miss USA 2008 together and Donny has performed during the Miss Universe 1979 and Miss USA 1980 pageants. Also experienced in pageantry, Jocelyn was also Miss Utah's Outstanding Teen 2022 placing in the top 11 at Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2023. Jocelyn even posted an instagram video of great-uncle Donny Osmond giving her some fun advice. Finally, Rhode Island won the online vote and she did have a great look but interview-wise I wasn't convinced that she would place but she did it!

It was then time for the gown competition set to the music of JVKE's "This is What Falling in Love Feels Like" and "Golden Hour" (which is often used in RPM state pageants like North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama for the final look for the last few years). We started with Pennsylvania with a pansy-purple floral number that was a standout and a unique color. Illinois donned a sky-blue gown with solid-colored puffy sleeves and a train and the gown itself with adorned with crystals and Vivica looked vivacious! South Carolina had a teal gown with a sheer mid-section with crystals and this gown reminded me a lot of the gown Venezuela's Carolina Izsak wore at Miss Universe 1992. Virginia wore a black one-shoulder gown with crystal detailing above the slit and on the shoulder piece and when she lifted her arms ballerina style, I immediately thought of Estonia's Kristiina Heinmets during the 1997 Miss Universe evening gown competition. Tennessee looked simply angelic in her white mermaid gown with nice silver designs on the bodice and a puffy cloud-like lower skirt/train and off-shoulder jewelled pieces similar to the gown worn by Miss USA 2019-Cheslie Kryst when she won her national title and her curly hair just accentuated the look that much more. DC followed in a pink gown with an intentionally loose bust line and a large pink side-train. I guess it suited her more eccentric and unconventional style. Washington followed in a shades-of-blue number with a large bold blue train that was very oceanic and I guess she loves water! New Jersey followed in a light lavender princess gown with a sparkly bodice and large tulle flowers at the bottom of the skirt and it was very suitable for the new Miss Teen USA. This gown was a modern take on a classic design in the perfect color. Well done, UmaSofia! Iowa followed in yet another excellent teen gown. It was actually this gown that made me put her in my predictions list as I loved the deep purple tone and the sparkly bows at the bustline. Oklahoma followed in a salmon multi-layered gown that was teen appropriate. I was hoping for something closer to the gown she won her state title as it also had the large multi-layered skirt but was more of an ice-blue color. Wisconsin followed in a green mermaid gown and sparkly bodice with the off-shoulder beading and while I don't typically like this color, Shelby actually pulled it off very well. New York followed in a simple gown but with a bold, impactful red color that was one of the more unique colors this year and Stephanie was lovely. Texas followed with a black gown with hot pink bow designs at the bust and a hot pink train and I actually love this color combination. It reminds me of another Texan, Amanda Little who wore similar colors during the intro of Miss USA 1997. Missouri followed in a hot pink gown with a full flowy skirt and a glittery off-shoulder piece and it was divine. North Dakota had a light turquoise gown with a full side train and crystal designs adorning the gown itself and it matched the lighting very well. Georgia's gown was also quite similar to North Dakota's except in a darker shade of blue with a full train on the back and crystal detailing on the gown. California followed in a light lavender gown and it was interesting to see both the South Asian delegates from New Jersey and California wearing lovely lavender. Ohio's gown was incredible. It was a simple but amazing black gown but with a big white feathery train with a few black feathers and matching white and black feathered wrist-pieces and she just looked sensational. Utah followed in one of the few illusion gowns in Teen that are a little too prominent in Miss these days but it had leaf-like structures over the bust and wavy designs on the gown itself was mainly white with hints of blue incorporated and a white train. Finally, Rhode Island had a yellow princess gown with puffy off-shoulder sleeves and it was nice. It reminded me of Belle's look in 'Beauty and the Beast.'

Top 5It was time to announce the top 5: New Jersey, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio and I would say this was a well-selected top 5. It was then on to the question round and the final question all of them were asked was, "As a role model, what qualities do you believe a Miss Teen USA should possess?" New Jersey answered, "If I... If I had the honor of being the first Mexican-Indian Miss Teen USA, I would lean my... lead my reign with an open heart and an open mind. Growing up with a unique background like mine, I didn't always feel accepted which is why I wrote my children's book, "The White Jaguar" and I was able to make it multilingual to represent my cultures and I want to share the message to empower people to embrace what makes them unique. Thank you." An exceptional answer from the new queen! New York answered after revealing the song playing in the headphones that 4 of the top 5 were listening to was 'Shake It Off' by Taylor Swift, "Transparency and vulnerability. I stand here showing my scars so others know that they can heal. Never in a million years did I think because I came from an abusive household that I could be on the Miss Teen USA stage so I want to set a precedent, a legacy and also there hasn't been a Miss New York Teen USA since 1983 so on the 40th anniversary, I want to make history to show others that they can make history too." I liked this answer very much since she incorporated the historical aspect of this pageant. Texas was next and she answered, "The utmost important quality that I think Miss Teen USA should possess is being relatable. As someone who is a normal teenager, that's something that I stress already as Miss Texas Teen USA. You're not always going to see me in a crown and banner. You're not going to see me always made up at photo shoots. I do go to school. I'm on the cheer team. I have bad hair days. There's days when I don't want to wear make-up, when I want to be real and that's something that I believe Miss Teen USA should possess. She should be transparent to other teens out there. In order for someone to look up to you, they must believe that one day, if they try hard enough, maybe they can be in the position of Miss Teen USA." A very real and thorough answer but perhaps almost too real? Pennsylvania answered, "I think the most important thing is to be driven. As a national titleholder, you have a responsibility of inspiring people all across the nation and drive is something that really helps with that. Personally, I am driven. I wake up at 5 a.m. every single day to go to a spin class and I would love to continue promoting this as Miss Teen USA using my wellness platform." Pennsylvania actually has a strong speaking voice and I think she displayed a maturity beyond her years and when she said 'driven,' I immediately thought of Montana's Katie Blair-Miss Teen USA 2006. Finally, Ohio replied, "I feel like the next Miss Teen USA should be relatable. She should be some...someone that every young girl can look up to and see herself, somebody that you can come up to and say, 'Hey, I like your shoes' and go on with your day and give that compliment. I think she has to be a role model to others and being relatable comes along with that."

Then, it was time for the final look set to Taylor Swift's 'Bejeweled' and Faron Medhi did her farewell. Representation matters as we saw the 4th runner up-Ohio (Asian), 3rd runner up-Texas (black), 2nd runner up-Pennsylvania (redhead), 1st runner up-New York (blonde) and Miss Teen USA as New Jersey (Latina/Indian). Looking back, I probably should have seen New Jersey's win coming but sometimes you get blinded by other factors but kudos to UmaSofia Srivastava, a winner with a fascinating name! My friend Paulo points out that Uma is the female form of the indefinite article "a/an" and the numeral "one" so UmaSofia in Portuguese literally means "a Sofia" or "one Sofia"! He once read that actress Uma Thurman got her name because her father was a scholar in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies and Uma means something like "deserving of blessings" in Hindi and that has seemed to apply to both Thurman's and UmaSofia's lives! Also, the NJ/NY top 2 reminded him of Miss America 1984 where famously these two states were the last ones standing thanks to Vanessa Williams and Suzette Charles. (Let's just hope nothing outrageous happens to the new Miss Teen USA like it did to Vanessa!). I'm sure UmaSofia will have a fine reign as Miss Teen USA!

The Prethoughts - Miss Teen USA 2023