In early February, Anchorage’s Alyssa London became the first Tlingit to win the Miss Alaska USA competition. She competes in the Miss USA pageant Sunday, televised on FOX at 7 p.m. AKST. She spoke with the Empire via email this week from Las Vegas, where the pageant is taking place. She spoke about her interview for the pageant, her Tlingit heritage and even her chances at winning Sunday’s competition.
Juneau Empire: It looks like you just went through your interview for the pageant. Was there anything unexpected during that? Any strange questions?
London: I enjoyed the interview because they asked me questions like, where do I see myself in 10 years, who has influenced my life and why, what would I do right after winning Miss USA and, “Tell us about your tribe.” They asked me if I’d ever been on a crab boat and I laughed and said, “No, but I have caught king salmon and I know how to cook it in several ways.” I said after winning I would thank everyone, hug my friends and family and then eat some chocolate cake because I love chocolate.
I said in 10 years I see myself as having successfully grown my businesses, have a children’s book encouraging kids to be proud of their multicultural identity, be an international motivational speaker and host my own travel and culture show.
I told them my tribe is a beautiful community from Southeast Alaska and that I would show some of our amazing art on my evening gown.
I shared that with the Miss USA platform I would work to empower women to look to entrepreneurship as a means to achieve self-sufficiency and independence as well as design the life of their dreams. I told them that attending Stanford really influenced me and developed my entrepreneurial mindset. I told them that I approached preparing for the fitness portion with a training program by Chris Bryant, a former Metlakatla resident, basketball star, and Tsimshian tribal member who specializes in holistic wellness.
JE: When you and the other contestants aren’t going through prep or at events, are you hanging out with each other or are you doing things on your own?
London: The time that the contestants and I aren’t rehearsing, attending events or at a meal is pretty scarce. If there is time, I hit the gym with other girls, go to the hospitality room, or have some downtime with my roommate in our room. But it’s very rare we have free time.
JE: Rooming with Miss Wisconsin, what have you learned about Wisconsin and what’s that experience been like?
London: Skylar (Witte) is the most positive, driven, inspiring, bubbly and lovely person. I couldn’t be happier than to room with her. I learned that Wisconsin people really do like cheese and they’re super proud of the University of Wisconsin. They have similar wintertime activities.
JE: What goes into the process of selecting outfits for the competition and what are you most excited to wear?
London: I decided I wanted to wear a gown that showed my pride in my Tlingit culture.
The other clothes I wore were provided by the Miss USA wardrobe team from their sponsors Sherri Hill (opening number) and Yandy (swim). We had a few styles to choose from in our sizes during the first day we checked in on May 4 at orientation.
JE: What do you think your chances are of winning? Is that something that’s on your mind or are you just enjoying the experience?
London: I think I am a strong contender, but with pageants you never know. I felt I’ve done my best and had a really fun time while going through the process. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I am enjoying every moment of the experience and believe whatever will be, will be. That’s a mentality my mom taught me, just enjoy the moment and don’t focus on the future and what you can’t control.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that London was the first person of Native Alaskan descent to win Miss Alaska. She is the first Tlingit to earn the honor.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2271.