Thursday, April 11, 2024

AMERICA HAS A BLACK MISS USA: Crown passes from controversial Tara Conner to Miss Tennessee, Rachel Smith.

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Entertainment

      ( The Miss USA tiara has seen some rough days in the past 12 months. But it all came to an end Friday as the crown waived buh-bye to the sex scandals, club hopping and rehab stint endured under the reign of Tara Conner and found itself atop the coiffed hairdo of Rachel Smith, a bi-racial journalism grad from Clarksville, Tennessee who beat out 50 other contestants to win the annual competition.

      “I’m speechless at this point, I really am,” said the 21-year-old alumnus of Nashville’s Belmont University after the pageant, which included contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

      In the final stretch of the competition at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, Smith edged out African American finalist Meagan Yvonne Tandy of California; Cara Renee Gorges of Kansas; Helen Salas of Nevada; and Danielle Lacourse of Rhode Island, who was named the first runner-up.  

      When asked whether she was ready to take over for Conner, Smith admitted it would “be a little bit of a challenge,” but quickly added she was up to the task. “I’m excited to see what this year will hold,” she said.

      Smith also praised the way Conner handled her various challenges.
      “I definitely learned a lot,” Smith said of Conner’s tenure as Miss USA.

      Asked how she would behave during her reign, Smith said: “I’m going to be honest and open.”

      The 5-foot, 11-inch tall daughter of African American and Caucasian parentage was a “military brat” who was born in Panama and raised in Clarksville after her parents were reassigned to Fort Campbell.      

      While studying at Belmont, she served an eight-month internship at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions in Chicago. In January 2007, Winfrey chose her to volunteer for one month at her newly-opened Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

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