Founded in 2001 and produced by Karina Samala of the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and Hollywood, The Queen USA Pageant is an annual pageant for the transgender community, bringing together some of the most beautiful and talented transgender individuals in the country.
The Queen USA pageant showcases the beauty, diversity, talent, and intelligence of the transgender community and serves as a platform for the greater TLGBQ community, allies, and the mainstream community to join together to understand the real challenges that transgender individuals face, and celebrate the triumphs and victories of this strong community.
From its grassroots beginnings, the pageant has provided candidates with many benefits, including serving to boost confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, and encouraging community. Transgender persons are oftentimes rejected, marginalized, and alienated in our society. A recent study concluded that a staggering 41% of transgender people attempted suicide in their life. Queen USA pageant honors the beauty of transgender individuals, while highlighting the worth and dignity of trans experiences. Many previous contestants and winners have gone on to pursue careers in art, entertainment, business, healthcare, and law.
A beloved community mainstay in West Hollywood for over 15 years, in 2016 the Queen USA Pageant went national, with 35 semi-finalists culled from applicants from all 50 states.
KARINA SAMALA is the longtime producer of the Queen USA and Queen of the Universe transgender beauty pageants. A graduate of M.I.T. Philippines with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering, Ms. Samala worked as a Senior Process Engineer for Northrop- Grumman Corporation, for several years.
Ms.Samala has competed in and won numerous transgender beauty pageants, with titles including “Queen of the Universe” 1991, “Miss Gay World” 1995 and “Miss California Continental” 1990. In addition to her involvement in these TLGB events, Ms. Samala has been active in several TLGBQ advocacy groups and philanthropic organizations for over twenty years.
Ms. Samala is currently the chairperson for the City of Los Angeles’ Human Relations Commission’s Transgender Advisory Council and the President of the Board of Directors of the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and Hollywood. She is also a member of the City of West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board, the Christopher Street West/LA Pride Board, the County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s TLGB Advisory Council, the Community Police Advisory Board – LAPD Jail Division, and the Asian Pacific Islander Pride Council.
For her extensive and continued work in the community, Ms. Samala has been presented numerous awards. She received “Lifetime Achievement” and “Stonewall 40 Trans-Heroes” awards from the International Court Council; the “Keeper of the Dream” Award and “Rainbow Key” Award from the City of West Hollywood; the KCET- TV “Local Heroes Award, and the “Spirit of Los Angeles” Awarded by the City of Los Angeles.