Backstage at Miss USA: How the Controversy is Affecting the Show
By Raphael Chestang
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Backstage at Miss USA
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The Miss USA pageant's main event kicks off Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but Wednesday night, ET's Nischelle Turner was there for the preliminaries, where the contestants weighed in on the controversy surrounding the show.
"This isn't about Trump. This isn't about politics," Miss New York, Thatiana Diaz, told Nischelle. "This is about something we've prepared for our whole lives, but as a Latina American I was hurt by the comments because my parents are immigrants. They came from the Dominican Republic, but I'm here for Miss USA and that's what I'm focused on."
"We're not only going through Miss USA together, we're going through everything else together," Miss Missouri, Rebecca Dunn, added. "It's definitely brought us closer together."
NBC and Univision dropped the pageant in light of anti-immigration comments made by co-owner Donald Trump. The show eventually found a home with REELZ channel, which will air the show on Sunday. Nischelle spoke to the network's CEO, Stan Hubbard, who explained the decision.
"REELZ is not aligning itself with Donald Trump," Stan said. "We are doing this for the contestants. We are doing it for the pageant, and I have distanced myself as much as I possibly can by disagreeing with the comments that he made on immigration. We are doing this for the right reasons."
Miss USA president Paula Shugart had the task of making sure the contestants knew that Trump's opinions did not reflect those of the Miss USA/Miss Universe organization.
"I wanted to make sure obviously that the Latina contestants were really getting a lot of feedback from people. They also have their sense of purpose," Shugart said. "This is what they have worked hard for. They know this organization is all about inclusion. They know what we're all about."
The Miss USA pageant airs July 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on REELZ.