Katalina Enriquez has always loved creating things. “At a young age, I could not play with the toys I wanted,” Enriquez said. “I remember walking up to my sister’s room so I could play with her dolls. I would cut up my socks and turn them into dresses.” On Sunday night, Enriquez was wearing one of her creations — a rainbow-colored sequin dress — when she has crowned Miss Nevada, making history as the first to do so. Enriquez, who immigrated from the Philippines with her family at 10, now owns her own fashion business and . She’ll spend several months preparing to compete for Miss USA in November. Enriquez recently spoke with the Reno Gazette-Journal, part of the Network, following her big win and shared her experiences as a transgender woman competing for Miss Nevada. This interview was edited and condensed for brevity:
What got you interested in fashion and pageantry?
Enriquez: Fortunately, I realized I was not good at math, and I could not be an engineer, which is what I wanted to be when I was young. I was accelerating on projects where you have to build things, and then, somehow, I just landed into fashion design. Pageant shows are very inspirational for me. TA womanwas competing at one point, and her story reflected mine. She didn’t have much when she was growing up. There was a time when she and her family was starving. It was something that resonated with me. I learned to look beyond her pretty . Often, people think pageantry is just superficial beauty, but it’s beyond that. The direction of Miss Universe and Miss USA going forward is expanding the definition of beauty and womanhood, which I want to be a part of.
What were the steps you took to become Miss Nevada?
Enriquez: In terms of pageantry, there’s the closed-door interview, the on-stage interview, the evening gown, and then there’s the swimsuit competition. But outside of that, I had to work on several things that involved my past and childhood traumas. Communication is very important in the pageantry industry, especially right now. But speaking, at one point in my life, it was an invitation to be attacked, bullied, or discriminated (against). I learned to silence myself to survive, allowing me to hate myself and not value myself. At one point, I wanted to die, and I prayed not to wake up. So, I had to overcome many challenges in terms of childhood trauma to get to where I am now. I want to share those experiences in life so others can relate and have an understanding. I’m thankful I was able to do that.
How did you overcome those challenges and learn to speak out?
Enriquez: Honestly, I have no idea. I was trying to live for someone else. I was tired of trying to please society’s social structure and expectations. Regardless of what I did, there was always someone commenting on something. I got tired of that, and Ias drained from constantly having to please people. It was about time that I chose to live for myself. It was either that or not live.