Alexis Bland was crowned Miss West Virginia USA 2021 and Brylee Knotts was named Miss Teen West Virginia USA at the end of the finals, held on July 11, 2021 at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on West Virginia Wesleyan College’s campus, Buckhannon. Six adult finalists and 11 teen finalists comepted for the coveted crown. The two lucky girls earned the oppportunity to represent the Mountain State respectively at the next edition of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageant, which will take place in November in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Miss West Virginia USA 2021
Miss Parkersburg USA succeeded Miss West Virginia 2020 Charlotte Bellotte. “It’s like the more you don’t hear your name, the better it is, so hearing my name today as Miss West Virginia USA, it was just an indescribable feeling,” said Bland, who entered the pageant as Miss Parkersburg USA. “I’m so excited to represent West Virginia at a national level and hopefully bring more contestants to the Miss West Virginia USA Pageant in years to come.”
She is a graduate from West Virginia University at Parkersburg, where she studied Business Administration. After her diploma, Alexis began working towards getting her Real Estate license. Bland is now a full time Real Estate Agent who reportedly loves traveling, singing and writing. She also is the owner of a women’s clothing boutique, “Twisted Couture”. Choosing a career in real estate was an easy choice for Alexis as she has a love for working with people and is skilled in sales.
Alexis says that if she can accomplish one thing through pageants it’s to empower young women to be ambitious, educated, and their most confident selves. She has competed in pageants since she was a teenager after her grandmother encouraged her to try, and it has been a dream of hers since to earn the title of Miss West Virginia USA. “Whenever I was 12 or 13, I was dealing with a lot of self confidence issues, and she (my grandmother) would always tell me ‘why don’t you try Parkersburg Homecoming or doing a pageant,’” Bland said as she recalled her pageantry beginnings.At the age of 16, Bland began to take the process more seriously and earned her first title at the Salem Apple Butter Festival in Salem, W.Va.
“You are able to experience so much, and you get to learn the interview process,” Bland said of her experiences. “When you put yourself in those uncomfortable situations, you are really allowing yourself to grow as a person.”
Bland went on to earn a multitude of titles and represent different cities in West Virginia before her most recent title. She was a West Virginia Three Rivers Festival Teen in Fairmont when she was 17, the West Virginia Interstate Fair Queen in Mineral Wells when she was 18, the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals Queen in Charleston when she was 19, the West Virginia Three Rivers Festival Queen earlier this year and finally her latest accomplishment of Miss West Virginia USA as a representative from Parkersburg.
“The opportunities that opened up for me are what got me hooked to them,” Bland said. “It was very cool to be able to win the pageant (Miss West Virginia USA) representing a place I have called home forever … a very surreal moment.”
The Miss West Virginia USA’s court includes:
1st runner-up – Krystian Leonard (Miss Morgantown USA)
2nd runner-up – Tamia Hardy (Miss Berkeley County USA)
3rd runner-up – Lacy Russell (Miss Three Rivers Festival USA)
4th runner-up – Dominque Collins, (Miss Normantown USA)
Miss Teen West Virginia USA 2021
Brylee Knotts, a senior from Grafton High School, was named Miss Teen West Virginia USA. The Miss Teen Three Rivers Festival USA will be attending Fairmont State, studying Forensic Scienc and plans on continuing with the Acrobatics and Tumbling team. Knotts said she is interested in crime and investigation, advocacy for teen mental health, and has the ambition of becoming an entrepreneur. She succeedeed Miss Teen West Virginia USA 2020 Sophia Isabella Martino. “I entered this pageant because I want to show the world a new, empowered me. In the last year, I had a lot of time to self reflect, identify my strengths, understand my struggles, and find who I truly am. I hope to encourage other young adults to spread their wings and express themselves in whatever way they choose,” Knotts expressed.
Brylee wants to use the Miss West Virginia Teen USA platform to encourage and empower young women, and also advocate about teen mental health.
“I didn’t really have a goal of top five or even winning. I just wanted to go in and have fun, because this was kind of my last thing before college. I just wanted to have fun with it,” Knotts said.
Over the years, Knotts learned a lot of lessons from pageantry including the importance of public speaking, interviewing, communication and long-lasting relationships.
“I never came out of a pageant without one more friend. That’s what kind of kept me going was the friendships,” she added.
With her new title Knotts hoped to visit schools to help empower young women and remind them they are capable of achieving their dreams.
“We try to be confident and we try to have fun. It’s not about the hair. It’s not about the makeup. It’s not about the crown or the sash. It’s really about the girl that’s on the inside,” she explained.
Knotts was preparing for her freshman year of college at Fairmont State University where she planned to get her degree in Forensic Science. She was also a new member of Acrobatics and Tumbling team at Fairmont State as well.
Lakyn Campbell was 1st Runner Up in the Miss Teen West Virginia USA competition and will replace Knotts in the Miss Teen USA competition if she is unable to fulfill her duties for any reason. Sarah Lowjeski was 2nd Runner Up, while Leah Hinchee was the 3rd Runner Up and Emily Grace Anderson was the 4th Runner Up.
Congratulations to all the contestants and best wishes as they represent West Virginia in the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA competitions later this year.