Hawaii’s Ki’ilani Arruda crowned Miss Teen USA 2020 during pageant at Graceland


John BeifussMemphis Commercial Appeal

As the 16 finalists in Saturday night’s Miss Teen USA pageant paraded across the Graceland stage in their Sherri Hill-designed evening gowns, Elvis Presley’s recording of “Pocketful of Rainbows,” from the 1960 movie “G.I. Blues,” was played over the sound system.

“I don’t worry/ Whenever skies are gray above/ Got a pocketful of rainbows/ Got a heart full of love…”

The sentiment was appropriately upbeat, but a selection from a film Elvis made the following year, “Blue Hawaii,” might have been more prescient: Miss Teen USA 2020 — crowned after a roughly 90-minute ceremony inside a socially distanced Soundstage at Graceland — is Ki’ilani Arruda, representing Hawaii.  

A self-described “island girl,” Arruda was the second Miss Hawaii Teen USA to win the title. The first, in 1985, was Kelly Hu, who went on the play a supervillain, Lady Deathstrike, in the second “X-Men” movie, “X2: X-Men United.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=usatoday&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1325277232181469184&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.commercialappeal.com%2Fstory%2Fentertainment%2F2020%2F11%2F08%2Fmiss-teen-usa-2020-hawaii-kiilani-arruda-graceland-memphis%2F6141520002%2F&siteScreenName=usatoday&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Arruda has less glamorous plans: She hopes to become a dermatologist, according to a biography supplied by the Miss Universe Organization, which produces Miss Universe, Miss USA, and the latter’s “little sister” pageant (to again make an Elvis allusion), Miss Teen USA.

Ki’ilani Arruda, Miss Hawaii, winner of Miss Teen USA 2020, is crowned with the “Power of Hope” Crown, presented by Mouawad, the official crown sponsor of the 2020 Miss Teen USA competition, by Kaliegh Garris, Miss Teen USA 2019, at the Miss Teen USA Competition, on November 7, 2020 at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

To that end, Arruda is currently a freshman at the University of Puget Sound, studying molecular and cellular biology. Growing up on the “Garden Island” of Kaua’i, Arruda also is an advocate for autism awareness. (The subject is close to her heart because she has an autistic younger brother.)

Unlike the previous evening’s protracted Miss USA and Miss Teen USA preliminary competitions, which required all 102 contestants to model active and evening wear for the judges at the Soundstage, Saturday’s Miss Teen USA pageant supplied plenty of Memphis and Graceland tourism promotion to the home viewers — including many overseas — who watched the livestreamed pageant on the Miss USA Facebook page and other social media channels.


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