In the weeks since Donald Trump's controversial remarks about immigration, the Miss USA pageant has lost its network, its co-hosts, multiple judges, and a major sponsor. But it can count on at least one thing: its contestants.
Miss California, Natasha Martinez, and Miss Texas, Ylianna Guerra, broke their silence on the backlash in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, and explained why they're staying loyal to the competition.
"We were not going to let our states down," Guerra told ET. "It's taken a lot of hard work and determination to get here, and we're just really focused right now on the pageant and focused on Miss USA and being here. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Martinez added that she never even considered quitting. "Not once did I think about dropping out of the pageant," she insisted. "I feel very passionate about my family's background and their ability to grow in this country."
In fact, Martinez's mother immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12. "I know firsthand, as the child of an immigrant, that immigrants work extremely hard to come to this country," she said. "It was definitely hard to hear some of [Trump's] comments, but I think that this is a great opportunity for Latinos to rise up and prove themselves."
In that respect, all the attention on the pageant could turn out to be a good thing. "It's definitely been an e experience that's going to separate our class from any of the other classes before," she told ET. "In a way, it's been great, because it's given us a lot of opportunities to really be able to speak our minds about the issues."
Added Guerra: "It's not that we’re standing by Trump or against Trump…Educated women, powerful women, strong women, that's what it's about. It's about being confidently beautiful and it's about serving your community. It's not about anything political."
The Miss USA pageant is set to air on July 12 on Reelz Channel, after being dropped by both Univision and NBC.
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