On The National Stage: Miss Arkansas USA ready to begin competition

Stephanie Barber says her life has been a whirlwind since she was crowned Miss Arkansas USA on May 23. But if that’s true, she’s about to step into the eye of the storm.

Barber left Nov. 21 for the Miss USA Pageant, being held this year at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa. She immediately jumped into fittings, rehearsals and media events around Tulsa, then begin the preliminary competitions, interviews and, on Nov. 28, represent Arkansas in the first state costume show in many years. The pageant finals will be live on FYP and Hulu starting at 7 p.m. Nov. 29.

“Growing up with dyslexia was challenging for me, and I was insecure about my academic abilities for most of my childhood,” says Stephanie Barber, Miss Arkansas USA. “I had incredible parents, teachers and tutors who pushed me to overcome my dyslexia. While I was in high school and volunteering in an underserved school, I was awakened to the reality that not all students have the same access to educational opportunities that I have had. That didn’t sit well with me, and I have worked with literacy organizations ever since.” Barber has been traveling Arkansas to assure youngsters they can be successful in spite of challenges like dyslexia and hopes to speak on that topic at the Miss USA Pageant Nov. 29. (Courtesy Photo/Stephanie Barber)

If she doesn’t win the national title, Barber, who grew up in Dallas but has family roots in Siloam Springs and graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science, will come back to Arkansas and continue to travel the state to encourage youngsters to pursue their dreams.

But if she does win the Miss USA title, she’ll leave the next day for the Miss Universe Pageant in Israel.

“The Miss Universe events will have already started, so Miss USA will be a few days late,” she says. “After that, Miss USA spends the rest of her reign in Los Angeles and traveling around the country.”

“It’s so surreal that I’m living out this dream,” she says.

During the last-minute countdown to the pageant, Barber took time to answer five questions for What’s Up!

Q. Tell us about your experiences since you were crowned.

I’ve traveled all around Arkansas and to countless states. I need to sit down and track exactly how many miles! I’ve been everywhere from Decatur to Searcy to Jonesboro, visiting schools to speak to them about my journey growing up with dyslexia and finding my confidence through books. I also had the opportunity to travel to Cancun, Mexico, with all 50 of my Miss USA sisters to shoot our official headshots for Miss USA, along with other fun content.

Q. What have you done to prepare for Miss USA?

I’ve had three “boot camp” trips around the country where my fabulous sponsors and directors prepared me for all aspects of competition. I’ve perfected my walk, drilled interview questions, and designed a fantastic wardrobe that I cannot wait to share. I practice for all phases of competition daily. My faith is really important to me, so I always pray before interviews that that shows through me. For the hot topic political questions, I listen to four to five news podcasts a day.

Among her opportunities as Miss Arkansas USA, Stephanie Barber got to travel to Cancun for an official Miss USA retreat at Nizuc Resort and Spa, where she is pictured with Miss Hawaii USA. Founded in 1952, the Miss Universe Organization is “a global, inclusive organization that celebrates women of all cultures and backgrounds and empowers them to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.” Some 10,000 women internationally compete every year in the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA events. If Barber wins Miss USA 2021, she will become the second Miss USA from Arkansas. Terri Utley of Cabot was crowned Miss USA in 1982. (Courtesy Photo/Stephanie Barber)

Q. What is your fitness regimen like?

I love to work out, and I’m so thankful that pageantry has introduced me to such a healthy lifestyle. I work out at the gym five or six days a week, and I also love to kick box! I’m cautious to avoid processed food and focus on eating lots of greens and protein. This can be tricky when I’m on the road, so I always have a pack of almonds with me!

Q. What are you most excited about? And what are you most nervous about?

I’m most excited about hearing “Arkansas, Stephanie Barber” as I walk across the Miss USA stage! I’m beyond proud to represent this state. I don’t like to focus too much on the things that could make me nervous, but there are always those last-minute things like my gown not fitting that I try not to think about!

Q. What have you learned so far this year that you will never forget?

I’ve learned a lot about myself that I know will benefit me for years to come, but I’ve truly understood the importance of doing small things with great love. It’s not always grand, but I’ve learned that it’s in the little moments that I form some of my most profound connections. It’s taught me to be kinder to myself to focus on serving where I can with what I can.

I’ve been so touched by so many people, but I’ll never forget a conversation I had with two fifth-grade girls at a school in Central Arkansas. They both told me that they too have dyslexia and that my story inspired them to not give up on themselves. My one goal was to be the role model I didn’t have as a child, so that moment was humbling.

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FAQ

Miss USA Pageant

WHEN — 7 p.m. Nov. 29

WHERE — River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa

WATCH — Live on FYP and Hulu

INFO — missusa.com

FYI Listen Here! Listen to a conversation with Stephanie Barber last summer in a podcast at nwaonline.com/716barber/ Read More! And read more about Miss Arkansas USA at www.missarkansasusa.com. This is her official Miss USA portrait, taken by Grant Photos.
Source: freeweekly.com

On The National Stage: Miss Arkansas USA ready to begin competition