United States of America’s Abena Akuaba Appiah was crowned 2020 Miss Grand International on Saturday evening, March 27, at the Show DC Hall in Bangkok, Thailand.
After an energetic and emotional show, Evelyn Abena Akuaba Appiah succeeds Venezuela’s Valentina Figuera. She bested 62 other hopefuls for the golden crown, to become the first African-American to win the title
From just a competition showcasing the beauty of contestants, today’s pageant competitions have evolved into platforms for them to bring attention to their causes or advocacy. Its motto : “Stop the War” thus took on its full meaning with Miss Grand Myanmar Han Lay. She appealed for help for her country. Daily protests have broken out against the military, which staged a coup last month and ousted newly elected leaders, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The pageant was staged on the bloodiest day of the protests so far as military forces opened fire on crowds, killing at least 90 people, including children.
“I deeply feel sorry for all the people who have lost their lives. Please help Myanmar. We need your urgent international help right now. Let’s create a better world. May the world be at peace with Myanmar,” a teary-eyed Han said. She ended her speech by singing lines from Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.”
Even the pageant’s winner, Abena Appiah of the United States, made a political statement by wearing a dress inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement for the national costume competition.
Her royal court is comprised of Miss Grand Philippines Samantha Mae Bernardo (1st runner-up), Miss Grand Guatemala Ivana Batchelor (2nd runner-up), Miss Grand Indonesia Aurra Kharishma (3rd runner-up), and Miss Grand Brazil Lala Guedes (4th runner-up), who also won the Best in Swimsuit award.
All of these ladies will be staying behind in Thailand for a few weeks more, through the invitation of MGI president Nawat Itsaragrisil, and help in poromoting Thai tourism efforts, before flying home to their respective home countries.
Who is the new Miss Grand International 2020 ?
If Appiah looks familiar, that is because she is a veteran in pageantry. She represented Ghana in the Miss Universe 2014 competition and the year prior, competed at the Top Model of the World competition. In 2016, she won the Queen Beauty Universe pageant and became the first Ghanaian to win an international pageant.
When she was still in school, Appiah was “constantly bullied, teased and verbally abused” not by kids, but by teachers, principals, and fellow colleagues who made her feel as if she were nothing. “I was called all sort of names like a piece of trash, ugly black monkey etc.” she wrote on Instagram. Because of that, she lost her confidence in herself. But little did she know that she will make a name for herself as the first Ghanian to win an international pageant.
“I now know that everything is possible as long as you believe and are determined to achieve it, no one can stop you. You are who you are destined to be,” she added. “My ultimate goal is to create an organization that helps individuals feel confident after suffering severe bullying,” said Abena.
Abena’s confidence and experience in competing internationally was clear during the Miss Grand International 2020 finals night. Part of her speech and Q&A responses were in Thai, which likely also gave her plus points with the local crowd.
She is also a musician. At the age of 9, Appiah discovered her musical abilities—singing, songwriting, and playing instruments sucha as the guitar, recorder, and clarinet. Years later, Appiah joined X Factor and became a finalist but had to drop out of the competition because of a conflict with her exam schedule. Currently, Appiah has released five singles, three of which are available on Spotify and Apple Music. She works now as music therapist with children.
She models and has appeared in several music videos
Appiah took up fashion at Radford University College in Accra, Ghana.. She has also taken part in fashion shows with Contour Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Vlisco, Woodin, Da Viva, and GTP. She has also appeared on music videos such as Wake Up In The Sky by Gucci Mane, Bruno Mars & Kodak Black, and El Anillo by Jennifer Lopez.