Who is Brianna Burrell? All about Miss Alabama 2023

Brianna Burrell is the Miss Alabama 2023 and the third Black woman to have won the title. (Image via LinkedIn/Brianna Burrell)
Brianna Burrell is the Miss Alabama 2023 and the third Black woman to have won the title. (Image via LinkedIn/Brianna Burrell)

On Saturday, July 1, Brianna Burrell was crowned Miss Alabama 2023 at Samford University’s Wright Center in Birmingham, Alabama. She defeated 41 others to win the title and will join the class of Miss America 2024 to represent the state of Alabama.

Previously crowned Miss Baldwin County, Brianna Burrell received the title, sash, crown, and scholarship worth $15.000 from her predecessor Lindsay Gaines Fincher, who was Miss Alabama 2022. The moment her name was announced as the winner, Burrell teared up and thanked God for her victory.

“I feel ecstatic, a whirlwind of emotions, but I’m super honored for this opportunity God gave me. As Miss Alabama, I’m ready to hit the ground running to work for this great state of Alabama,” she said.

Brianna Burrell became the third Black woman ever to earn the Miss Alabama title in the contest’s 102-year history. The two previous winners were Kalyn Chapman James in 1993 and Tiara Pennington in 2019-2020. Pennington held the title for an extra year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.


Brianna Burrell is a political science and philosophy graduate

A 25-year-old native from Mobile, Alabama, Brianna Burrell participated in the Miss Alabama competition last year as well, when she was crowned first runner-up.

A political science and philosophy graduate (Bachelor in Arts) from the University of South Alabama, Brianna is all set to make public appearances, engage in charity work, speak to community groups, and motivate students through her community service initiative SAVE-A-STEM.

The campaign inspires students of color and girls in underfunded schools to pursue their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

“I want to accomplish a year of connection, where I make relationships with people across the state of Alabama. And have that year where it’s more than just accomplishments and me making those tangible results in education, but making sure that people feel seen, feel loved and valued after meeting me,” Burrell said, while talking about her goals.

The Miss Alabama 2023 competition had three preliminary rounds that took place from Wednesday to Friday at the same venue. The categories were talent show, evening gown, health and fitness, and on-stage interview, featuring the community service initiatives.

Besides winning this year’s title, Brianna Burrell also won two preliminary awards last week, the evening gown competition and the talent competition, where she sang the gospel song Alabaster Box, originally sung by CeCe Winans.

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An advocate of STEM education, according to her LinkedIn page, Brianna Burrell has been an institutional review board student assistant from 2017 to 2019 at the University of South Alabama. She has also been a child nutrition intern at the NGO Feeding the Gulf Coast and a mayor equity task force team member for her state.

She also won Miss Saraland High School, Miss Mobile Bay 2022, and Miss Baldwin County 2023. She has been an active member of The Miss America Organization for the last two years. She is looking forward to earning a Master’s degree from the University of Alabama in education administration.

Brianna Burrell has collaborated with STEM SPORTS USA to further the field of STEM and has also published a children’s book named Investigation Nation: Who Made It? as part of her social impact initiative at the end of 2022.

Burrell said the following in her victory speech:

“It was an accomplishment; it was confirmation; it was excitement. It was me wanting to scream congratulations to the other girls. It was just a massive, massive amount of thoughts and emotions and gratitude and just a pat on the back for myself. I had to realize that I did the hard work, and God wanted to recognize that, and I’m so honored that He gave me this opportunity.”

Miss Alabama 2023 had a brand-new segment this year

A total of 42 contestants took part in the Miss Alabama 2023 competition. Replacing the swimsuit competition, this year, the contest included a brand-new health and fitness segment where the participants wore activewear designed by Rebel Athletic for The Miss America Organization and modeled on stage.

Another new thing that happened this year was “A People’s Choice Contest,” which allowed the citizens of Alabama to vote for their favorite contestants online, (on PageantPlanet.com) ahead of the finals, by just spending a dollar. The winning contestant earned a spot among the top 13 semi-finalists. It was Sydnee Cantley, the earlier Miss Gulf Coast.

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Apart from Brianna Burrell, the other finalists were: first runner-up Emma Terry (Miss UAB), second runner-up Ibby Dickson (Miss University of Alabama), third runner-up Hannah Adams (Miss Birmingham), and fourth runner-up Abbie Stockard (Miss Trussville). They won $5000, $3000, $2500, and $2000, respectively, in scholarship money.

Other semi-finalists received $1500 each, while the rest of the participants earned $1250 each.

Meg McGuffin, Miss Alabama 2015, was the host of this year’s finals, where tributes poured in for Peggy Elder Butler, Miss Alabama 1947, who died on April 30, at the age of 93. Tributes were also paid to Jana Sanderson McEachern, Miss Alabama 2000, who passed away on December 16, 2022.

Edited by Upasya Bhowal