The words captivating, charismatic, and determined only begin to describe Nitaya Panemalaythong. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, Nitaya came to America as in infant in 1986. Her family moved from Minneapolis, to other locations in Minnesota, then North Carolina, before Nitaya returned to Minnesota in 2004. Her path to the Miss Minnesota USA crown is simply amazing! She won her title in her first pageant competition, and is the first Asian American to hold the Miss Minnesota USA title.
1. If you would like to describe your self in one word, and what word would it be, and why?
Thriver because of how I grew up and how it's made me who I am today.
2. How many time have you participated in the state pageant?
This was my first pageant ever!
3. What are the aims / goals / your motivations so that you were trying hard to conquer your title and win a right to represent the state to Miss USA pageant?
My goal was to ALWAYS be myself and my motivation was my friends and family who have supported me not only through out the whole process but through different times of my life.
4. Now, everybody knows that you are the queen of your state in the USA system, do you think that winning the state pageant is a gift or a responsibility?
I think it's both. It's a gift because no ONE person is exactly perfect for this role. You were chosen by a group of judges so it's a gift that they chose you for that particular year. It's also a responsibility because you are now a role model for anyone and everyone who comes across your path from now on so you need to make sure that you take it seriously.
5. What is the biggest changing of your self between before your were crowned and after the crowning?
I don't think anything has changed about me besides the fact that I'm a lot busier now and have to dress up more! (I'm a t-shirt and jeans type of girl). Otherwise, I haven't changed who I am nor do I ever plan on changing who I am.
6. We know that the swimsuit round is apart of the MUO pageant, meanwhile there are some countries a woman isn't allowed wearing swimsuit in a public cause they think that it can demean women. Do you think so?
Absolutely not. I feel that a woman should be able to dress to HER own comfort level and not any one else's. If she wants to cover up than she is more than welcome to and if she wants to be in a swimsuit, I think that is fine, too. However, I understand that some cultures in certain countries do not feel that way still so I feel that if you are visiting a certain country, you should definitely be respectful of the culture. But hopefully through time, ALL women are able to dress to their comfort level no matter what country she's from.
7. You know, this year will be tough year for Miss USA pageant, so many beautiful contestants, do you get any pageant training from your state director? Would you like tell us a lil bit about your preparation to the Pageant?
Yes, absolutely! The directors of Future Productions are amazing and they definitely do what they can to help you prepare for Miss USA. They are really great at making sure all the details are finalized like making sure you're prepared for interviews and appearances, etc. all the way through Miss USA. I am very thankful that I have great directors who are there with me and will be there for me when I go to Miss USA and throughout my reign AND I'm sure after!
8. Which one is more important, winning the Miss USA crown or making friendships with the other 50 contestants?
It would be amazing to win the Miss USA 2012 title but I think what is more important is what you get out of the experience whether it's making friendships or networking at appearances. You'll take what you want out of the experience and it's up to you as to how you decide to go into this competition because at the end of the day, there can only be one winner.
9. What is the biggest present that you have ever received?
I think the judges should choose me because I would represent a group in the US that hasn't been represented in the Miss USA pageant before and that's being a first generation refugee coming to America. Not only that but I have lived in the Midwest, East Coast/South and West Coast so I can technically represent most of the US : )
Special thanks to the Assistant Director of Future Productions, Libby Watkins, and Nitaya herself for making this interview is possible. We wish Nana the very best of luck at Miss USA 2012 :)