A native of Houston, Taylor Kessler was crowned Miss Texas USA on 1 September 2019 and represented Texas at the Miss USA 2020 pageant in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2017 she competed at Miss Grand International in Vietnam.
Taylor Leigh Kessler became aware early on that her road to success and achievement was less a superhighway than an uncharted slippery path full of pitfalls and even a few land mines. From the age of four, Taylor longed to participate in pageants, but middle school classmates told her she was ugly and bullied her to the point of physical attacks, stripping away her self-confidence. Finally, at seventeen, she entered her first pageant and competed at Miss Texas Teen USA. A few years later, on September 1, 2019, Taylor Kessler took home the Miss Texas USA 2020 crown!
The bullying was only the beginning of the roadblocks and difficulties she would have to conquer to achieve her dreams. There were lessons to be learned, self-knowledge to be gained, and mental toughness to develop. Along the way, Taylor became the target of domestic abuse at the hands of a boyfriend. When she recognized her toxic situation and the dangers it entailed, she terminated the relationship with her abuser. She has since become an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and has shared her story with hundreds of people. She imparts one of the best bits of advice she has received: “There is a difference between being liked by people and being valued. A lot of people will like you, but few will value you. BE VALUED.”
Then, in the Spring of 2019, Taylor wound up with a fractured spine when her car was totaled after hydroplaning and crashing into the median. She would require months of wearing a body brace and rehabilitation. It seemed unlikely that she would be able to walk the runway in a swimsuit and evening gown this year. But her growing determination, self-confidence, and indomitable spirit kicked in, and she focused on returning to a normal life and getting back on the Texas Stage! She learned that she is capable of overcoming huge obstacles!
As she begins her year as Miss Texas USA, Taylor is a few classes away from earning her degree in Communications/Broadcast Productions at Sam Houston State University. A sports enthusiast, she played volleyball on a nationally ranked team and was MVP two years in a row. She is coming a step closer to her ambition of becoming a Sports and Entertainment Reporter as she has conducted rookie interviews and sideline reporting for the Jacksonville Jaguars this summer. She will take on several football games this season and next year start and internship with GALvanize (Women in sports).
Taylor’s heritage is a blend of cultures and ethnicity. Her maternal grandfather immigrated from Italy through Ellis Island, and a great-great-grandfather was 100% Cherokee from the Texas-Oklahoma border! She describes herself as driven, articulate, conscientious, versatile, and a bit quirky!
The message Taylor would like to convey to others is to “live your life with purpose.”
The on-stage moments, the tension of the final two and the glory of the crowning, here are Taylor’s state pageant photos.
Lights, camera, action! Professional photoshoots are one of the perks that comes from winning a title.
Taylor was a semi-finalist at Miss Texas Teen USA 2015 and then moved up to the Miss division, as a non-finalist at Miss Texas USA 2016 and a semi-finalist in 2019. She was also Miss Grand United States 2017 and competed at Miss Grand International in Vietnam.
All beautiful things must come to an end, no matter how bittersweet. See Taylor’s farewell walk and other candids from the weekend she crowned her successor Victoria Hinojosa as Miss Texas USA 2021.
Winning a state title is a sisterhood for life. Here are “after the crown” photos.