Moms of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA Speak Out After Daughters’ Resignations

Moms of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA Speak Out After Daughters’ Resignations

Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

By Cameron HarrisonEric JonesKirk Cohall, and Kendall Coughlin | ABC

Days after the sudden dual resignations that rocked the pageantry world, the mothers of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA Pageant winners spoke up on behalf of their daughters in a new interview with “Good Morning America.”

“The job of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare,” Barbara Srivastava, whose daughter UmaSofia Srivastava stepped down last week from her role as Miss Teen USA 2023, told “GMA.” “We could not continue this charade. The girls decided to step down, give [up] their dream of a lifetime, a crown, a national title — why would two girls — decide to give that up?”

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Former Miss Teen USA speaks out after giving up her title

The two beauty queens allege that a very ugly work environment turned toxic, but because they are both bound by contracts with confidentiality clauses, their moms are finding a platform to give voice to their experiences.

After former Miss USA Noelia Voigt posted about her resignation on social media, fans immediately noticed that the sentences seemed with letters that spelled out, “I am silenced.”

“She is and she will be the rest of her life if this NDA [Non-disclosure agreement] isn’t being lifted,” her mom Jackeline Voigt told “GMA.” “The girls need to speak.”

Her daughter from Sarasota, Florida blasted Miss USA and it’s President Laylah Rose, writing in part, “there is a toxic work environment within the Miss USA organization that, at best, is poor management, at worst, is bullying and harassment.” She added, “I was made to feel unsafe at events without an effective handler and this culminated in being sexually harassed.”

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Voigt said her daughter received unwanted advances at a Christmas parade.

“I saw Noelia so stress[ed] out. And I said, ‘What happened?’ And she said, ‘Mom, get in the car. Get in the car.’ When I got in the car, I say, ‘What happened,’ because I know he say something, but I couldn’t get it. He told Noelia, ‘Are you into old men with money,’ and made Noelia very, very uncomfortable,” her mom detailed to “GMA.”

In her letter, Noelia Voigt wrote that Rose’s response was, “We cannot prevent people from saying things to you at public appearances,” explaining that it essentially just comes with the territory.

Voigt said that her daughter was not told, “I’m sorry that you went through that.”

“After she resigned, Noelia came back home. And it was so beautiful to see her running in my living room with the dogs. I had my Noelia back,” Voigt said. “She was so upset. This is not what she worked so hard for.”

“Then Miss Universe organization need to come out and speak to us, or apologize, or clean this mess,” Voight continued.

“The crown weighs heavy,” Srivastava said.

She alleges that her teenage daughter, who is from New Jersey and currently finishing up her junior year of high school, was also bullied by management causing her to miss out on opportunities, all while having her personal social media surveilled and controlled.

“I want to be clear, it’s not about what they didn’t get, about the prizes. It’s about how they were ill-treated, abused, bullied, and cornered,” Srivastava said.

Since Noelia Voigt resigned, Srivastava said her daughter knew she needed to do the same.

“My personal values no longer aligned with the direction that organization is going into,” the former Miss Teen USA wrote in her statement on social media.

“When she saw that they were attacking Noelia’s mental health, [UmaSofia] said, ‘I cannot stand for this. I need to stand up with Noelia,'” her mom Barbara Srivastava recalled of the alleged catalyst and chain reaction.

The Miss USA organization told ABC News, “We are committed to fostering a healthy, communicative and supportive environment for all contestants, state titleholders, national titleholders and staff.”

Laylah Rose did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Both moms say they want Rose to step down, but until then are sharing a warning for future contestants.

“Look at what happened to Noelia [and] UmaSofia,” Jackeline Voigt said. “Really pay attention. We don’t want them to go through this. Right now, it’s not the right time to participate.”

When asked if she thinks that young women should stop participating in these types of pageants, Voigt said, “absolutely.”

“We just don’t want these families and these girls to go through what we’re going through,” she continued.

The CW, which airs the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA competitions, said it is “evaluating” the relationship with the pageants in light of these resignations and allegations.

Noelia and UmaSofia have both written books about their experience being bullied growing up. They have said they hope to encourage other women to speak out against any kind of mistreatment.

Both of their moms said the message coming from all of this is beyond the pageant world, and they hope their daughters can provide an example of staying true to yourself and using your voice no matter the sacrifice.

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