“Miss Alabama 2023: Unveiling the Woman Behind the Crown”

“Miss Alabama 2023: Unveiling the Woman Behind the Crown”

by Javaughnae Malone January 08, 2024 731


In the heart of Mobile, Alabama, we had the pleasure of sitting with the radiant Brianna Burrell, Miss Alabama 2023. This accomplished young woman embodied grace, intelligence, and a humble spirit that has carried her through her remarkable journey. We delved deep into Brianna’s journey, her inspirations and dreams, the memorable moments during the competition, her aspirations for the future, and her strong ties to her community.


Growing Up in Mobile, Alabama


Brianna’s roots run deep in Mobile, Alabama. Her family’s rich history in the city is a testament to her love for her hometown. “Mobile is home; I was born and raised here,” she shares. She reminisces about Mardi Gras Saturdays and seafood bowls, capturing the essence of this vibrant city.


Her passion for her city oozes out strongly. Her sentiments are captured beautifully in Maya Angelou’s words: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Brianna’s love for Mobile fuels her drive to make it an even better place for future generations.


Finding Inspiration – Family and Faith


Her most significant source of inspiration is a testament to the power of family and faith. She credits her mother, sisters, and, of course, her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ as the guiding light in her life. She said, “My mom and sisters have always been my cheerleaders but also the best critics I can say outside myself.” She notes they’ve pushed her to strive for her dreams. “They’re the ones who never downplayed my dreams but always asked about my end goals and how they could support me.”


Photo Credit: Victor James Photography 


Unexpected Path to Pageantry


While Brianna’s journey into pageantry could look like a chance event, she’s come to see the hand of God behind directing her. Her first pageant experience in high school, as she recalls, was amusing; “My first pageant was my senior year of high school. My dance teacher and the library technician encouraged me to go in for the school pageant.” She recalls being scared and wanting to volunteer in the background, but they insisted. “I reluctantly accepted and took part, and somehow I won” – becoming the first African American Miss Saraland High School.


After that experience, she felt done with pageants, but life had other plans. While trying to get more scholarship dollars for her college funds – her sister sent her a Facebook post about a local preliminary for Miss America. She reminisces about her sister, saying, “Hey, Bri, this comes with a scholarship – and you need to do this.” She didn’t want to go through the hassles in a pageant, but her older sister would not let up. ‘Thank God for older sisters for pushing us into our dreams,’ she retorts pleasantly. She researched and went through with it – the pageant was for Miss Mobile Bay – and again, she won. Her very first title, elated, she started to think, “Okay, there must be something to this for me – God may be calling me to do this.” From then on, she committed herself to the service and preparation required to win. She notes, “I reminded myself that winning will not just be for me. This win is going to be for the people that are coming after me. I want to make it easier for them…”


Brianna went on to win First Runner-up in her first year competing for Miss Alabama and the Miss America pageant system, a considerable feat, especially for an African American. From there, her journey continued, defying expectations and challenging stereotypes. Her story is reminiscent of the words of Toni Morrison: “If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” Brianna’s determination to excel in pageantry showcases her commitment to breaking barriers.


Preparing for Pageant Success


Miss Burrell’s journey to the crown wasn’t without its challenges. She endured a rigorous process, from private interviews with judges to talent showcases and health and fitness assessments. Her preparation focused on honing her skills and confidence. She remarks, “Many people don’t realize the amount of work it takes going in for a pageant; there are five phases of competition: a ten-minute private interview with a panel of judges and then evening gown, health, and fitness, then answering questions on stage about your community service and talent.”


The wisdom of Oprah Winfrey beautifully captures this phase of her journey; “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” Brianna’s life is one such adventure. Her commitment to her dream has compelled her to keep improving her skills, and her talent shines through.


Photo Credit: Tamika Moore, AL.com 

Memorable Moments at the Pageant Competition


The journey to the Miss Alabama crown is not just about glitz and glamour. Miss Burrell fondly recalls moments of camaraderie among contestants during the week-long competition. “We lived in dorms for the entire week of competition. After rehearsals, we got to be ourselves, crack jokes, have sleepovers, and have a good time,” she shares. This friendship reminds her that pageant contestants are everyday people with dreams, snacks, and personal challenges. It’s not just a competition; it’s a journey of self-discovery and solidarity.


Aspirations and Plans for the Future


Brianna’s primary aspiration is to be content with where she is. “I always want to strive, no matter where I am, to find happiness,” she shares. Her flexibility in adapting to change and her contentment resonate with the thoughts of Oprah Winfrey: “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”


Professionally, Brianna’s goal is to work in education, having recognized the need for improvements in Alabama’s educational system. She envisions a future where all students can access the tools and support needed to chase their dreams.


Photo Credit: Tamika Moore, AL.com


Community Support for Positive Change


Brianna’s dedication to her community service initiative, Save a STEM, speaks volumes about her commitment. During her time as Miss Alabama, she plans to develop STEM curricula for students of color in underfunded schools. “If there are schools that would love for me to come and speak to the kids, lead a STEM project, that is something I’m passionate about,” she emphasizes. She further observes, “My focus during my time as Miss Alabama is to make sure my community service impact is transferrable…I can be the best representative for this state because of my impact in the state…” 


Her vision aligns with Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Brianna aims to foster a supportive community where young minds can flourish.



Behind the Crown


In closing, Brianna reminds us that she’s just “Bri.” She treasures the simple moments of laughter and connection with her loved ones. Her authenticity shines and offers a valuable lesson: “You don’t have to change yourself to be in these roles for young women. Be who you are. You’re allowed to be in this room. Don’t shrink yourself to fit in.”


As we bid farewell to Miss Alabama 2023, remember the importance of being true to oneself and staying authentic. Brianna Burrell’s journey is not just about the crown she wears but the light she shines on a path for others to follow.




In Brianna’s inspiring journey, we find the embodiment of resilience, authenticity, and commitment to positive change. As she prepares to represent Alabama nationally, we can’t help but admire the remarkable woman behind the crown, who teaches us that staying true to oneself is the most beautiful and powerful way to shine.