By Karen Rosenberg, Staff Writer
// While some high school students have their sights set on going to Harvard or studying architecture or design, others such as 2014 Acalanes alumna India Williams have their heart set on the crown.
At only 20 years old, Williams competed against 130 contestants and was crowned California “royalty” on December 4, 2016 at the Long Beach Terrace Theatre, naming her the official 2017 Miss California USA.
“When competing in pageants the possibilities are honestly endless. Becoming Miss California USA was a dream of mine for quite a few years now, so to have finally achieved that dream is such a rewarding feeling,” Williams said.
While some pageant stars begin their career during adolescence, Williams took an unconventional approach, participating in her first pageant in 2013 as a senior at Acalanes.
There, she competed for the title of Miss Teen Oakland/San Jose. Her high placement in the contest earned her a ticket to a national pageant in Orlando, Florida, where she placed first runner up.
“I absolutely loved how competing made me feel, and since then I have never looked back,” Williams said. “I learned to be more confident, gained self-esteem and made more new friends than I could ever imagine.”
After graduating from Acalanes in 2014, Williams enrolled at Loyola Marymount University where she is currently a junior aiming to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Business Entrepreneurship.
While some may not normally correlate entrepreneurship with pageantry, Williams holds both interests dear to her heart.
“I decided to become an entrepreneurship major because my parents have successfully started their own business, Curlykids Hair Care, and someday I hope to follow in their footsteps,” Williams said.
Working her way up in pageantry, Williams competed for the title of Miss California Teen USA in 2014 and 2015.
Although Williams did not walk away with the crown, some light came from the event.
During the 2015 Miss California Teen USA Pageant, Williams became acquainted with a casting director for America’s Next Top Model and competed in season 22.
“While I had a great time being on the show, I unfortunately was eliminated on the first episode,” Williams said. “I quickly realized the ‘reality show’ lifestyle wasn’t necessarily right for me, but I truly loved the opportunity to meet tons of awesome people and just do something different for a change.”
Preceding her appearance on America’s Next Top Model, Williams’ love for pageantry brought her to her first Miss California USA preliminary pageant after a year of time off from the pageant world.
A year of growth and maturity payed off when Williams was crowned Miss Santa Monica USA in March of 2016.
“Just like in any other activity, practice makes perfect, so it’s incredibly important that contestants dedicate themselves to fully preparing for the competition,” Williams said.
It became difficult to simultaneously manage school and pageantry. After consistent practice she was able to find what method worked best for her.
“I’ve recently learned to keep a detailed planner to make sure I can accomplish all that needs to be done each week. I have definitely gained lots of organizational skills over the past few months,” Williams said.
While a common misconception is that pageantry is solely based on physical beauty, Williams argues otherwise.
Although beauty plays a major role in pageantry, Williams believes that beauty stems from many different places. In fact, the Miss Universe Organization’s slogan is to be “confidently beautiful”.
One’s ability to stay poised and confident has a major influence on which way the judges sway, specifically during the judge’s interview and onstage questions. The ability to stay composed when discussing a challenging topic speaks more than just physical beauty when it comes to points.
Although her talents stretch far and wide, Willams attributes most of her success to her loved ones whose love and encouragement helped her accomplish more than she could have imagined.
Many tend to underestimate those from a small town like Lafayette, but Williams has proven them wrong.
“My biggest advice is to make the most of every opportunity you’re given. The best part about growing up in a town like Lafayette is that there is so much support in a small community,” Williams said. “ With those you love and care about by your side, anything is possible. I know for certain I would not be here if it weren’t for the support and preparation I received at Acalanes.”