With just two months left in her reign, Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev, is speaking out about the importance of beauty pageants and violence against women amid the Bill Cosby scandal.
The current title-holder, whose platform issues are protecting women against domestic violence and combating military sexual assault, insists beauty pageants are still relevant. That's despite the recent drama surrounding Donald Trump's competing Miss USA pageant and critics who consider the competitions a relic of the past.
"I love it when people say those things because it gives me the opportunity to show, just take me as an example, how positively impacted I've been through my life just from a pageant," Kazantsev said Monday while visiting TheWrap studios in Los Angeles. "It has given me the ability to sit here and talk with you about things that are really important to me."
Earlier this year, Kazantsev partnered with Safe Horizon on a campaign to end domestic violence called "Put the Nail In It." She keeps her left ring fingernail painted purple as a symbol of commitment to the cause. Her outreach efforts also extend to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
"These are all things that I didn't have quite the opportunity to do, with the impact that it has, had it not been for the title," the 22-year-old pageant winner said.
As for Cosby, who has been accused by nearly 40 women of drugging their drinks, raping, coercing or sexually assaulting them, Kazantsev has opinions on the disgraced comedian as well.
"Of course it's heartbreaking to learn about someone a lot of people grew up with as a positive father figure," she said.
The Miss New York 2013, graduated from Hofstra University with a triple major in political science, global studies and geography. Her academic pedigree is part of what distinguishes Miss America from other pageants.
As part of her prize, Kazantsev received a $50,000 scholarship and hopes eventually to obtain a juris doctorate and a master's degree in business administration.
Miss America 2016 airs September 13 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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