Interview with Faith Behanna – 2020 USA National Miss Florida
Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey for my pageant lockdown blog. It’s lovely getting to know fellow pageant queens and more about the systems that they represent.
Can you introduce yourself ?
My name is Faith Behanna and I am the 2020 USA National Miss Florida! I turned 21 in February!
What made you enter pageants ?
I decided to start competing in pageants when I was 9 years old. I have always been ALL girl. I loved everything to do with makeup, hair, and fashion. All of my friends competed in pageants, but I’d never even heard of them. Their moms started telling my mom how much I would enjoy competing, and I begged her to do one. I competed in my first local pageant with a $25 tea length dress, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Can you tell us about your journey so far ?
In 2014 I won my first pageant title with National American Miss as the Miss Florida Junior Teen. I went on to compete at International Junior Miss, where I was awarded the 2016 Miss Southern States Teen title. I took a hiatus from pageantry before finding USA National Miss. I have held many titles with UNM, such as Miss Tampa, Miss Central Florida, Miss Sun Coast, and finally Miss Florida! I have also placed top 6 and first runner up to the title of USA National Miss, and won the National Casual Wear Model award.
What made you decide to compete in the USA National Miss system ?
I adore everything that USA National Miss stands for. UNM is founded on the basis of positive pageantry and serving other people. Through my time as a titleholder, I’ve been able to make a far-reaching impact on my community and through social media. I love the sisterhood that UNM brings and the experiences we get to share. UNM has been the brightest joy in my life for the past three years, and I’m so grateful I get to be a part of this amazing system again!
What the best thing that pageants have taught you ?
Pageantry has taught me a multitude of important lessons, but the most impactful by far has been the ability to persevere. Even when things get tough, I know I have important goals and big dreams I still need to work towards. I’m able to find the motivation and discipline I need to continue on even when I am faced with road blocks. The past year and a half of my life has been increasingly difficult. I have grieved the loss of loved ones, I have struggled with my mental health, I dealt with the end of a five year relationship, and so much more. Pageantry gave me the skills I needed to survive all of that and come out stronger with my sights set on the things I know I’m meant for.
What’s your pageant platform and why ?
My platform is advocating for mental health. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression since childhood, I understand how important it is to be kind to others, and to be empathetic and understanding. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, and you certainly don’t know what is going on in their mind. It’s important to always be the light so that you can help others out of the darkness. I spread this message alongside our national platform, the Crown CARES, and as a part of my local NAMI Chapter.
What’s your dream title ?
USA National Miss! I believe in everything UNM stands for and I know my year as the reigning USA National Miss would truly be one of service. Not just serving others through volunteering or representing our anti-bullying platform, but through serving as a mentor for other girls. Using my title, I would mentor other women to #RadiatePositivityAlways and create a chain reaction of kindness for years to come.
If you were to win USA National Miss what would it mean to you ?
Winning the title of USA National Miss would leave me ecstatic! I know the title isn’t just an amazing opportunity but a huge responsibility as well. It would be a chance to take my partnership with NAMI from the local level to a national level. It would also allow me to advocate for kindness and anti-bullying across our great nation, not just in our state. Finally, it would allow me to means to mentor women across our great nation, and to help other women experience the life-changing system that is USA National Miss.
What’s the best advice you have for fellow pageant queens ?
My greatest advice is to make your year about serving others! This is not about what the title can do for you, but what you can do for the community with your title! I have been able to open countless doors and complete hundreds of hours of service as a UNM Queen, and I will continue to do so as my reach grows. It is your duty as a titleholder to make an impact that reaches far beyond your year of service.
What have you been doing in the run up to your National Final ?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 began to spread and states began to shut down immediately after I was crowned. While I was able to complete a few in-person appearances before that happened, most of my involvement needed to be online this year. I have done numerous zoom meetings with my sister queens, hosted mental health seminars online, created impactful social media content, and even done interviews focused on mental health. Although this isn’t the year I imagined for myself as a state titleholder, I am grateful for the new ways I’ve found to make an impact. Even when I am able to volunteer again, I can now continue doing impactful work from home in my future endeavors as a titleholder.
What’s you favourite ever appearance ?
Oh goodness, how can I even choose? With over 350 hours of appearances in my UNM journey, I have too many to count! However, I do love any chance I get to spend time with my sister queens and make an impact by their side. I love hosting local pageants together and volunteering side by side. One of my favorite appearances ever was hosting a makeup class at a local pageant. As an aspiring makeup artist and a pageant titleholder, I’m committed to empowering other women and making them feel confident and beautiful. I was able to interact with all of the contestants during this class and make them feel more confident in their skills, and that was extremely important to me.
How has the lockdown due to Covid19 affected your pageant journey ?
The lockdown has mostly affected my ability to do in person appearances! It also forced us to move many of our events to zoom conferences. While it has been difficult and somewhat disheartening, there have also been many bright sides. I believe our conversations around mental health have shifted and we are checking on one another now more than ever before. We are also finding new ways to be impactful without volunteering, and that will leave a future impact on the way we live our lives and conduct ourselves as titleholders.
Has your reign been extended due to COVID19?
My reign has not been extended, however, our national competition has been moved from July to November!
What makes a good pageant role model ?
I believe a good pageant role model has a heart for service. She is committed to bringing out the best in others while being the best version of herself. Not only is she committed to bettering the world around her, but to bettering herself and her own life. A good titleholder believes in good and does her best to radiate positivity and light wherever she goes!
What’s your favourite pageant round ?
I love evening gown! It’s truly the Cinderella moment every girl deserves. I never feel more beautiful than I do when I’m onstage. I also love the messages you can convey to the judges without even saying a word.
How do you deal with pageant nerves ?
Deep breaths! I like to employ breathing techniques for anxiety. I’m also blessed to have an amazing support system, so I am always talking with my sisters backstage and giving my family lots of hugs before I go on! I sincerely couldn’t do this without my cheering squad. They are the reason I’m able to do what I do!
Social Media Links
Instagram – unmfloridamiss2020 faithalyssa27
YouTube – Faith Behanna
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions it been lovely getting to know your platform and our system. I wish you all the best at the finals in November. Much Love Charlotte, Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.