Amanta Krasniqi always wanted to compete in a beauty pageant but lacked the nerve to actually give it a go. 

Until now.

The Yorktown native has signed up for the 2020 Miss New York USA pageant, saying she has drawn courage from women, such as Marilyn Monroe, whom she has long adored.

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“Her body wasn’t skinny,” Krasniqi says of Monroe. “She had curves. That’s how you’re supposed to have confidence in yourself.”

And therein lies what’s really driving her to represent her hometown in the competition.

“I hate to see girls stressed out about how they look,” she said. So the 2018 grad will channel that confidence to take part in the event in January and help show the way for others in whatever they want to do.

She knows from experience the importance of support from having to deal with her own lack of confidence.  

“I always thought it was only me who felt a certain way about my flaws. But as I got older and made good friendships, I realized everyone feels the same way about themselves,” she said. “We girls have to stick together.”

After all, she already has done so for years on the basketball and volleyball courts in high school.

Krasniqi, who wants to be a college professor, says she also takes inspiration from her grandparents, who came to America to escape the Yugoslav Wars. 

“My dad brought my mom here from Albania in an arranged marriage, but everything worked out,” she said.

In preparation for Miss USA, she’s getting together her outfits and experimenting with hairstyles, learning to walk and stand her ground with the proper posture and to use the right speaking voice. One thing she knows she has at the ready: her smile.

“I’m pretty good at that,” she said. “I tend to smile a lot.”

No matter the outcome, Krasniqi believes the experience will encourage her to be more open-minded and enhance her communication skills. 

She also hopes her journey to the runway will inspire others.

“People don’t appreciate themselves enough, and I want to be an example to be like, try it, do it and don’t second-guess,” she said. 

To learn more about Krasniqi, visit her on Instagram @amantakrasniqi.