Hamila Aden, the first Miss Minnesota USA contestant to compete in a hijab and burkini, understands the importance of female role models in today's society.
"I grew up not seeing anyone who looked like me on TV, billboards, or in magazines. I never imagined that I could someday become a professional model as there hadn’t been women with my background who paved the way before me," the 19-year-old admitted. "It is important for all women to be trailblazers and to be the change they want to see in this world."
Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber.
Like Hamila, judge Brook Lee has considerable experience in the pageant world. Not only did she become Miss USA in 1997, but she won the Miss Universe crown soon after.
"I am looking for the woman that is ready to take on the rigorous duties that are required of this job," she shared. "Having done it myself, I know it is more than just pictures and public appearances."
Scroll through the gallery below for a closer look at this year's judges!