Huffpost Latino Voices

Why Miss USA Nia Sanchez Dismissed Suggestions To Change Her Last Name

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The pageant circuit is filled with plenty of peculiar tips -- look no further than butt glue, ladies -- but there was one “crazy” piece of advice the newly crowned Miss USA refused to take.

Nia Sanchez, 24, stopped by HuffPost Live on Thursday to chat with host Caitlyn Becker about her newly acquired title, the legacy she hopes to leave Latinas and why she refused to change her last name when she began competing as a beauty queen.

During a fan question portion of the segment, Crystal Brown-Tatum asked Sanchez about the legacy she’d like to leave young Latinas who now see the half-Mexican beauty queen as a role model.

“I would just like the women -- in the Latina community or even any community across America -- just to know to continue to try and never give up, and pursue your dreams,” Sanchez answered the viewer. “I have been competing for five years and being on the stage of Miss USA and “hopefully” being Miss USA was my dream and it’s something that came true with persistence. So I just always want to encourage women to do that, especially as a Latina woman.”

After a brief pause, Sanchez added that she had once been advised to hide her heritage by changing her name.

“I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this, but I had someone tell me ‘You should change your last name. Your last name is Sanchez, you should go by like a “stage name” because you might have a better chance.’ And, you know, I’m proud of who I am and I definitely did not follow that advice,” the beauty queen said.

While the model may consider the suggestion absurd, many Latino artists and actors like Andy Garcia and John Leguizamo have revealed they were urged to do something similar to conceal their background.

When asked whether she ever “second guessed” herself after being told to change her last name, the Miss USA winner assured Becker she didn’t even give the suggestion a second thought.

“I really didn’t. At the time I just kind of thought that they sounded crazy, to be honest. I was like ‘What! Change my name? No, I love my name.’,” Sanchez said. “So it was just weird to get that advice from somebody. I had never even had that thought cross my mind before.”

Watch Sanchez address the “crazy” suggestion and diversity in the Miss USA competition above and the full HuffPost Live interview below.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Miss USA 2014
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