Former Miss Teen USA speaks out after giving up her title

UmaSofia Srivastava also shared advice for other teen beauty queens.

May 13, 2024, 4:20 PM

Former Miss Teen USA 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava is opening up about her decision to step down from her role and sharing what she plans to do next.

"I look forward to doing what I wanted to do with the title, which is talking about charity, uplifting minority voices, whether that be my own community, Mexican Indian communities, or LGBTQI communities," Srivastava told "Good Morning America" at the 2024 GLAAD Media Awards, held May 11 in New York City.

"I think it's important that we advocate for the power of our voices and for acceptance, because ultimately, that is what I thought pageantry was supposed to be about and what I continue to do with the rest of my year," she said.

When Srivastava announced her decision to step down from her role as Miss Teen USA last week, she stated that her "personal values no longer fully align[ed] with the direction of the organization."

Speaking with "GMA" on Saturday, Srivastava, who is currently finishing up her junior year of high school, stood by her decision, saying, "Ultimately, I think what I said in my statement is very true."

Srivastava, who was Miss New Jersey Teen USA before winning the national title, also shared her advice for other teenagers who may be interested in joining the pageant industry.

"I think you have to realize the importance of your own voice as the person, not the title," she said. "I have had an incredible year that has allowed me to meet so many people as Miss New Jersey Teen USA, and ultimately, it's those relationships that have [not only] carried me but given me the confidence to continue my advocacy for education [and] for acceptance through my book, 'The White Jaguar,' as me -- no one else."

PHOTO: Umasofia Srivastava attends the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the New York Hilton Midtown on May 11, 2024 in New York City.
Umasofia Srivastava attends the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the New York Hilton Midtown on May 11, 2024 in New York City.
Gotham/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Shortly after Srivastava announced her resignation on May 8, the official Miss Teen USA account posted an Instagram photo of Srivastava from the night she won her title and expressed their support in the caption.

"UmaSofia, we are wishing you all the best.❤️," the caption read. "Thank you for your service as Miss Teen USA. 👑."

"We respect and support UmaSofia's decision to step down from her duties," the organization's statement read. "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."

Srivastava's resignation announcement came two days after Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt announced she was resigning her title on May 6, citing mental health.

"In life, I strongly value the importance of making decisions that feel best for you and your mental health," Voigt wrote in a lengthy statement at the time, in which she detailed her "favorite part of being Miss USA," which she said included "getting to work with Smile Train, being a fervent advocate for anti-bullying, dating violence awareness and prevention, immigration rights and reform, and shedding light on my roots as the first Venezuelan-American woman to win Miss USA."

Voigt alleged in an eight-page resignation letter obtained by ABC News on Friday that the Miss USA Organization cultivated a toxic work environment that led to her decision to step down. Voigt named Laylah Rose, the president and CEO of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations, in her resignation letter and claimed Rose "was generally inaccessible for communication," didn't offer her support, and allegedly "slandered [her]" during her time as Miss USA.

In a statement to USA Today on May 8, Rose said, "Our all-encompassing goal at Miss USA is to celebrate and empower women. 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."

Miss USA announced May 9 that Savannah Gankiewicz, Miss Hawaii USA and the first runner-up, would become the new 2023 Miss USA titleholder following Voigt's resignation.

A new Miss Teen USA 2023 has yet to be announced.

ABC News has reached out to the Miss USA organization for additional comment on the resignations.

ABC News' Yi-Jin Yu contributed to this report.