Layilah Ayesha Nasser was crowned Miss Maryland USA 2021 at the end of the finals, held on July 25, 2021 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Rockville beating 102 other candidates to win the title. She succeeded Miss Maryland USA 2020 Taelyr Robinson. On November 29, 2021, she will represent the Old Line State at Miss USA 2021 at the Paradise Cove Theater of River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
Hailing from Montgomery Village, Maryland, the 26 year-old beauty queen is a model, a beauty queen and the owner of Layilah Nasser Pageant Consulting, which she founded in 2019. She studied to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. In 2017, she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. From February 2013 to May 2013, she was a Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital public relations intern in Washington, D.C., USA.
She is not a newbie to pageantry. She was 2016 USA National Miss Southern States.
Layilah Nasser’s court includes –
1st runner-up – Caitlyn Stupi
2nd runner-up – Taylor Davis
3rd runner-up – Christina Dinardo
4th runner-up – Natalia Salmon
Also at the finale, Maria Derisavi was crowned Miss Maryland Teen USA 2021 as she became the official representative of Maryland at Miss Teen USA 2021. She succeeded and was crowned by Heavyn McDaniels, Miss Maryland Teen USA 2020.
18-year-old Maria Derisavi, who just graduated from Leonardtown High School, now hopes to use her platform to advocate for international human rights while encouraging women across Maryland to take advantage of their opportunities as Americans.
Although Derisavi graduated from Leonardtown High School, she was born in Kuwait City, Kuwait, where opportunities were limited and human rights issues were prevalent. When she was 9-years-old, she moved to the United States with her mother and three siblings, and she took advantage of every opportunity given to her.
“I think the major differences between America and Kuwait are the number of opportunities we have here. As a girl, there are a lot of things that differ from the way we dress to the schools available to us,” Derisavi said. “Going back to when I lived in Kuwait, I was a witness to human rights issues there. But, I believe in [America] we have so many opportunities to create those changes and stand by those causes without judgment.”
With this knowledge and newfound freedom, she dedicated herself to internationality and educating her community on global human rights issues. As a result, she was accepted into a Global International Studies Academy while engaging in research to find methods to encourage American High Schoolers to engage in human rights advocacy.
Also, she realized her dream of being a pageant competitor. As she watched the Miss Universe pageants, she said she always imagined herself with a beautiful dress and a tiara on, but the culture in Kuwait does not give that option. She loved the message of women’s empowerment in these pageants, but she could never compete in one.
“Pageants are not a thing in Kuwait because it is not in their culture. It is a Muslim country, so they are a lot more conservative in a lot of different aspects. It was not something that people would approve of,” Derisavi said.
When Derisavi finally got her opportunity to take part in a pageant, she jumped at the chance. Even though she did not have any experience being in pageants, she used her life experience and time at Leonardtown High School to bolster her chances. She stood by her platform of international human rights, and she used her public speaking skills as her class treasurer and the captain of the varsity cheerleading team to help herself win.
“I think a lot of the activities that I did in Leonardtown helped me out. I did cheerleading, and I was captain of the varsity team for a year. Then, I was class treasurer where I had to do a lot of public speaking. I think those activities helped me a lot in the pageant,” Derisavi said. “In the pageant, we had to walk on stage and do a lot of choreography. Then, we had the final question for the top five. I think doing a model UN team and mock trial helped me figure out what to say and my passion.”