Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava Gives Up Her Title, Just 48 Hours After Miss USA Noelia Voight Did the Same

There is a serious reckoning happening in the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations right now, and it’s worth paying attention to.

Miss Teen USA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just 48 hours after Miss USA Noelia Voigt resigned from her title, Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava has done the same, multiple outlets report. (The Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titles are connected as sister pageants; Miss Teen USA contestants must be between the ages of 14 and 19, and to compete in Miss USA, one must be over 18, but the pageant has removed any age limits other than that.)

In a statement shared on social media, Srivastava, 17, explained her rationale behind relinquishing her title: “After careful consideration, I’ve decided to resign as I find that my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization,” she wrote on Instagram. “However, I will continue my relentless advocacy for education and acceptance.”

Miss Teen USA

Srivastava said she had grappled with the decision to resign from her Miss Teen USA title for months before leaving her role yesterday.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When she resigned earlier this week, Voigt cited a commitment to her mental health as her reason for leaving.

Sravistava announced her decision on Wednesday, just two days after Voigt publicly announced hers on Monday. In Voigt’s announcement, she mentions Srivastava, writing she was grateful for her “darling beloved Miss Teen USA, UmaSofia.”

Miss Teen USA

Voigt and Srivastava shared a clearly close relationship.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In her statement, Srivastava also expressed gratitude, writing she was “grateful for all the support from my family, my state directors, my sister queens, and the fans who have cheered me on since I won my state title. I will always look back on my time as Miss NJ Teen USA fondly, and the experience of representing my state as a first generation, Mexican-Indian American at the national level was fulfilling in itself.”

Srivastava said she would focus on finishing her junior year of high school “as part of the National Honor Society and start the college application process, knowing that my academic career has been defined by my hard work, and my hard work alone.” While acknowledging that not finishing her tenure was “not how I saw my reign coming to a close,” she wrote she was looking forward to the future, and added “At the end of the day, I am so lucky to have had the privilege of this experience, but if this is just a chapter, I know that the story of my life will truly be incredible.”

Miss Teen USA

Srivastava, seen here being interviewed, is just 17 years old and is a junior in high school.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Srivastava—who is the author of a multilingual children’s book, The White Jaguar, said that her work with charitable organizations “has always been my TRUE purpose”—wrote that she had been “grappling with the decision” to give up her title for months. Following her resignation, the official Miss Teen USA Instagram account posted a photo of Srivastava and wrote alongside it “We respect and support UmaSofia’s decision to step down from her duties. The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority. We are currently reviewing plans for the transition of responsibilities to a successor, and we will soon announce the crowning of the new Miss Teen USA,” with language reading distinctly similar to Miss USA’s response to Voigt’s resignation. For her part, Voigt commented on Srivastava’s post, writing “I LOVE YOU! So proud of you my angel.”

With the back-to-back resignations, it certainly begs the question—did something happen? What is going on? Yesterday, Miss USA CEO and president Laylah Rose said in a statement shared with USA Today “Our all-encompassing goal at Miss USA is to celebrate and empower women,” she said. “Our participants make a real difference in this country and around the globe. All along, my personal goal as the head of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to preserve integrity along the way. I hold myself to these same high standards and I take these allegations seriously. Please be assured that the well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.” 

Rose is likely referring to comments from the former Miss USA social media director Claudia Michelle, who shared on Instagram on Friday—three days before Voigt’s resignation—that she, too, was leaving her role. “I have had the privilege of getting to work with Noelia closely and have unfortunately seen a decline in her mental health since we [first] met,” Michelle wrote. “I feel like her ability to share her story and her platform have been diminished.” She continued “I feel the way current management speaks about their titleholders is unprofessional and inappropriate. I disavow workplace toxicity and bullying of any kind.”

Following Michelle’s comments, the Miss USA Organization said in a statement to USA Today “We are troubled to hear the false accusations made by a former Miss USA employee. Miss USA is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment, and we take these allegations seriously. Indeed, we have and will continue to prioritize the well-being of all individuals involved with Miss USA.” 

Michelle wrote on social media that working with Voigt and Srivastava was “such a pleasure,” and called them “the definition of true titleholders.” Michelle wasn’t as kind to the Miss USA Organization, and “alleged that she managed all social media for Miss USA by herself (stating that ‘for a brand of this caliber, a social media team is absolutely necessary’) and claimed that she was not compensated for her first two months of work,” People reports. “This is a women’s empowerment organization and my hope in making this statement is to restore some of the empowerment back to these titleholders that was so deeply lost in their year,” Michelle wrote.

Miss Teen USA

Srivastava's resignation is one branch off of a much larger tree of issues in the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Later, she added “The brand IS the titleholders. Without them, there is no Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. I believe their voices and their stories should be heard and not silenced.”

Who knows if there is any there there, but, especially in light of Michelle’s comments about titleholders being silenced, internet sleuths dissected Voigt’s lengthy statement on social media announcing her resignation and “pieced the first letter in each sentence of her statement to reveal the phrase ‘I AM SILENCED’—though this discounts the last three sentences, the first letters of which spell ‘HIP,’” USA Today writes. “It was not immediately clear whether the message was intentional.”

In a moving show of solidarity, many Miss USA 2023 contestants that competed alongside Voigt for the title are calling for transparency from the organization. USA Today reports that “dozens of contestants have shown solidarity by posting a joint statement on their social media accounts.” It reads: “The majority of the members of the Miss USA class of 2023 support Noelia Voigt’s decision to resign from the title of Miss USA. Prioritizing one’s mental health is of the utmost importance, and we stand behind her. We are asking the Miss USA Organization to release Noelia from the confidentiality NDA clause of her contract, in perpetuity, so that she is free to speak on her experiences and time as Miss USA. We request a response within 24 hours. Our goal is to give Noelia her voice back. We are asking for full transparency for contestants in the class of 2024 and beyond.” 

One of the women who is calling for transparency is Miss North Carolina USA Jordyn McKey, who wrote on both her personal account and her official Miss North Carolina USA account “I STAND WITH HER! As someone who has struggled with her own mental health, I commend Noelia for prioritizing herself and setting a beautiful example that your health is paramount to anything else. I am deeply saddened by the lack of transparency by the Miss USA organization and pray we see change soon.”

Cheslie Kryst

Kryst, who served as Miss USA 2019, died by suicide in 2022.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

McKey paid homage to Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, who died by suicide on January 30, 2022. Prior to winning Miss USA, Kryst also represented North Carolina. “We lost a Miss USA recently that wore the same state across her chest that I do now,” McKey wrote. “And I take it very seriously to advocate for utilizing your voice and feeling able [and] safe to do so. It is of the utmost importance to me to uphold myself to being open and candid as it is potentially helping save others in the process. We cannot silence a woman who has had the experience of what our next class of Miss USA contestants are walking into. It needs to be addressed.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.