|PHOTO CREDIT:CARLOS VELEZ|
THANK YOU, KAITRYANA, FOR ALLOWING ME TO INTERVIEW YOU! FIRST OF ALL, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE NEWLY CROWNED MISS U.S. INTERNATIONAL 2016? AND WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE EVER COMPETED IN A PAGEANT?
It was an incredible feeling to be crowned Miss US International. At the time I remember thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I made 1st Runner Up! This is amazing!!! California is going to make an excellent title holder – she is so beautiful!” I was so busy thinking about her that it took me a minute to comprehend that I was actually the winner.
This was not my first pageant, but it was my first pageant as a Miss contestant.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, AND WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO COMPETE IN MISS U.S. INTERNATIONAL.
I am 18 and will be starting college at Louisiana State University this academic year. I have been an athlete my entire life; I am a former competitive gymnast, pole vaulter, and sprinter. I competed at the Junior Olympics in Diving, and was a member of Cheer Extreme Co-Ed Elite all-star cheer leading team. I also love school, especially the sciences and math; I am an Academic All-American and High School All-American in three sports and plan to study Molecular Biology in college so I can go on to medical school.
I decided to compete for Miss U.S. International as a practice pageant; to be honest I never even dreamed I might win. This year I turned 18 so I transitioned from a Teen competitor to a Miss. I know that competition is very different between Teen and Miss so I wanted to maximum amount of practice this summer so that I would be prepared to compete at Miss Louisiana USA in October. (I guess that’s not happening anymore!)
|PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK / GOWN DESIGNER: GASPAR CRUZ|
HOW WAS IT LIKE COMPETING WITH OTHER BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED YOUNG WOMEN ON STAGE?
It was extremely exciting for me – that was my first competition as a Miss and I loved meeting the other women, hearing about their accomplishments and plans, and sharing laughs and mirrors backstage!
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
I am a huge math nerd! My favorite holiday is Pi Day (March 14) and I have a special Pi Day T-shirt I always wear to celebrate it! When in 8th grade I memorized pi to the 34th decimal by making it my password on my lock screen!
IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I would be a sea turtle. I love them; they are simultaneously majestic and serene.
GOT ANY ROLE MODELS - PAST OR PRESENT?
Past role model would have to be Amelia Earhart. She was a woman who lived her life fully and on her terms at a time and in a culture this wasn’t well-regarded. She took risks - and although they didn’t always pan out for her she paved the way for strong, independent women to do and become absolutely anything they can dream.
I have several current role models but those who made the most impact in my life have been my coaches. I have learned perseverance, hard work, team work, respect, and how to stand up for myself from these wonderful men and women and these lessons forged in sweat will inform my actions for the rest of my life.
IF I WERE TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE UNANNOUNCED, WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING WOULD I CATCH YOU WEARING? LOL!
You would definitely see me wearing athletic clothes; I have been involved with athletics since I was two years old. With all the sports I’m involved in, it’s tough to catch me without Nike Pro shorts and tennis shoes!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE BEAUTY TO A BLIND PERSON?
I would ask the person to think of how she feels when she is cold, then steps into the sun – the sunshine warming her face. How she feels when a fluffy kitten brushes against her cheek and when a symphony plays a perfect note in perfect unison. I would ask her to remember her how her heart felt when someone shared a kind word when she needed it most.
|PHOTO CREDITS: KAITRYANA LEINBACH (LEFT) / JONATHAN CARTER (RIGHT)|
WOULD YOU RATHER BE AN INVENTOR OR A LEADER?
While I would love to create and forge my own path as an inventor does, I suppose I would rather be a leader because I have the perception that inventors toil away in solitude and that’s not me. I love to have other people around me – I would dislike working alone all the time. If I could be an inventor in a community of inventors so we could collaborate, that would be ideal!
WHAT WOULD THE PERSON WHO LIKES YOU THE LEAST IN THE WORLD SAY ABOUT YOU?
They would probably say they were surprised to learn that under my sweet exterior I have a backbone of steel. I was raised with a Southerner’s manners and a Mid-Western’s no-nonsense sensibilities.
WHAT DO YOU READ OR LISTEN TO EVERY DAY TO GET THE NEWS OF THE DAY?
I read the Skimm everyday. I am always on the go and barely even have time to eat so I love the Skimm because I can look at it on my phone whenever I have time and can click links that will send me to a more detailed article if I find something particularly interesting! I also swipe my Dad’s Wall Street Journal every chance I get and became addicted to the New York Times while I was living in New York City this Spring.
TELL ME ABOUT A TIME WHEN THINGS FELT HELPLESS BUT YOU KNEW YOU WOULD PULL THROUGH.
Two years ago I was in a accident that shattered part of my upper jaw. I had to have major reconstructive surgery to repair it in late May. Twenty-three days later, I was to check in to compete at Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen. I still had medical appliances inside my mouth holding my bones together and I thought about resigning my title. But I was bound and determined to compete despite that I couldn’t fully use my jaw. I was really worried about having a problem speaking clearly in interview, but it turned out that talent was actually the problem. My opening dance move was a standing back tuck and as I landed it, one of the medical appliances in my mouth broke off. It hurt and I couldn’t spit out the broken piece while mid-dance so I had to figure out how to smile around it while tumbling.
I remember thinking at the time “I can’t believe this is happening. Well, after this, interview is going to be a piece of cake.”
|PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN MAYHEW|
YOU WILL BE COMPETING IN ONE OF THE BIGGEST AND MOST PRESTIGIOUS PAGEANT IN THE WORLD - MISS INTERNATIONAL. HOW ARE YOU PREPARING YOURSELF FOR THE COMPETITION?
I am trying to be as prepared as possible – I take the responsibility very seriously and will do everything I can to represent the USA to the best of my ability. I am focused on eating healthy, staying strong, and making as many appearances as I can to increase the awareness of the important message of Miss International in America – peace, goodwill, and cultural understanding among all nations.
IF YOU COULD BE AN EMOJI, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE?
I would be the red dancing woman because I LOVE salsa dancing!
A FEW DAYS AFTER YOU WERE CROWNED MISS U.S. INTERNATIONAL, YOU POSTED ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE THAT YOU HAVE EMBRACED A VEGAN LIFESTYLE. AS YOU KNOW, CRITICAL BEAUTY IS THE FIRST AND PERHAPS ONLY PAGEANT WEBSITE THAT PROMOTES ANIMAL RIGHTS AND PLANT-BASED NUTRITION, AND WE ARE ALWAYS THRILLED EVERY TIME A BEAUTY QUEEN BECOMES A VEGAN. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO SWITCH TO VEGANISM? AND HAVE YOU LOST FRIENDS SINCE THEN? LOL.
I have been moving toward a vegan lifestyle for several years, actually. I started cutting out meat when I was 13 and found myself vegetarian with occasional fish one year later. A little over a year ago I made the commitment to total vegan eating because I found that the less meat, dairy and eggs I put in my body, the better I functioned. After a brief adjustment period of cutting out all animal products my skin cleared up and my energy increased dramatically.
A key influence in my decision to embrace vegan eating fully is Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. In the 1980’s, he was one of the first to encourage plant based eating to avoid cancer and other health problems. I am sure that he, an 82 year old Ohio physician, would be very surprised to hear that I have a huge fan-girl crush on him!
No, I haven’t lost any friends – in fact I have encouraged several friends to reduce their meat consumption, including (and most surprisingly!) my own Dad, who now joins me in making fresh juice every morning.
|PHOTO CREDIT: JONATHAN CARTER|
A LOT OF PEOPLE DO NOT REALIZE THAT VEGANISM IS MORE THAN JUST DIET. IT ALSO INVOLVES RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT ANIMAL CRUELTY AND EXPLOITATION, AS WELL AS CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. HOW WOULD YOU CONVINCE A MEAT-EATER TO GO VEGAN?
I have actually convinced a meat eater to go (mostly) vegan – my Dad! He is so cute standing in the kitchen, juicing kale and veggies for his morning routine!
I talk to people about vegan living based on what their interest is. If its health, then I talk about the advantages of eating an abundance of food that your body loves and can more readily process. You feel so much better, lighter, and cleaner. Just everything seemed to function better when I switched to vegan eating; I lost weight effortlessly while maintaining the muscle I need to tumble and stunt in cheer.
If the person loves animals, then the benefits are obvious!
If the person is interested in the world around them, or cares about people or social justice and equality then I talk about how much easier it is on the Earth to feed its growing population with a plant based diet. For instance, it takes 54 times more water to grow a pound of beef than it does to grow a pound of broccoli.
|PHOTO CREDIT: JONATHAN CARTER|
So many people in the world are food insecure, even in developed countries. If the world would switch to a vegan diet then our Earth would easily have enough resources to feed everyone in abundance.
Most conflict and wars, at the heart of them, are about fighting for scarce resources – money, land, food, and the power over other people that come with those. With a vegan world, we would all have enough to eat, resources currently wasted on growing meat could be redistributed to more productive pursuits, and we could eliminate at least one reason some people are oppressed. If everyone is healthy and fed, this enables all to make full use of their gifts and live up to their personal potential.
Since Miss International’s mission is to promote peace, goodwill, international cooperation, and its Green Campaign to care for the environment, I think this message fits nicely with the organization’s message!
YOU PLAN TO INVITE A GROUP OF FRIENDS TO A VEGAN FIVE-COURSE DINNER IN YOUR HOUSE. WHAT DISHES WOULD YOU PREPARE?
By “prepare” I hope you mean order take-out! I’m not that great of a cook yet, haha!
But if I had my dream vegan dinner party I would serve Indian food.
I would start with vegetable pakora, for our main course we would have eggplant Baigan Ka Bharta, mixed veggie curry and rice, and vegan palak paneer. I love garlic naan and aloo stuffed naan so we would definitely have those! Dessert would be coconut milk, mango, and sticky rice pudding and beautiful candied, dried fruits for the final course ---that would be great! (And….now I’m hungry!!!)
WHAT DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING 5 YEARS FROM NOW?
I hope I am in medical school at Georgetown!
Singer/Musician – Florida/Georgia Line
Actor – Dwatne "The Rock" Johnson
Actress – Jennifer Aniston
Color – Green
Fashion Designer – Thakoon
Perfume – I don’t wear perfume
Flower – Orchid
Writer – Edmond Rostand – I love Cyrano De Bergerac!
Book – "The Book Thief"
Movie – "Finding Nemo"
Quote – “There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going”
Hashtag - #IWokeUpLikeThis (;
If you want to follow my trip to Japan you can find me at Instagram: @MissUSInternational and @KaitryanaLeinbach
PHOTO CREDIT: JONATHAN CARTER
By Rafa Delfin