The first black rodeo queen of Arkansas, Ja'Dayia Kursh delves into her passion for rodeo queening and the Western style that comes with it.
Cowboys & Indians: Tell me about your journey to becoming the first black rodeo queen in Arkansas – how did you first get involved and eventually reach the level you did?
I got involved with rodeo queening when I was 16. For me, it was something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl - I absolutely adored seeing beautiful women on horses with a crown on their hats that took queening to another level for me.
I was so excited to start rodeo queening when I was younger but I didn’t know where to start or who to go to to lean on or ask questions because I hadn’t seen a little girl that looked like me with a crown on her hat. One day I was like, I’m gonna do this! I’m gonna be that little girl I was looking for and be that girl for the next young woman to look to for help or questions, so I sold my raffle tickets, and me and my favorite red mare entered our first rodeo queen pageant in coal hill Arkansas and we took the crown home that night.
C&I: How would you describe rodeo queen style?
Rodeo queen style is nothing short of elegantly beautiful. I love the confidence I have when I’m wearing a leather dress or even just a fancy top with some wrangler jeans and a hat. A rodeo queen's wardrobe in general is beautiful and give us the confidence we need to do our job.
C&I: Do you have a favorite queen outfit?
My absolute favorite dress has to be the turquoise leather dress. It made me feel beautiful, confident, and like the queen I am!
C&I: Who are your biggest style influences?
2017 Miss Rodeo America Lisa Lucia has a style I absolutely loved throughout her pageant years and I still have so many looks I wanna recreate saved on Pinterest. As far as a personal style influence in my life is my mom she has such good taste in style I love the way she dresses and she often helps me put outfits together.
C&I: If you could choose three favorite items in your closet right now, which would you choose?
My 124WJ dark-wash denim has to be one of my favorite gifted pieces from Wrangler right now, Doc Marten sandals are a given I’ve been wearing them all summer, and white Air Force one’s hands down favorite tennis shoe right now!
C&I: What does it mean to you to be a POC in the rodeo community?
I’m comfortable everywhere I go, simply because I know what I want, I know my purpose, and what my job is - as long as I’m working hard at my job then my skin color shouldn’t matter. I want people of color in the rodeo community to be a normal thing. I wanna talk equality, making sure all of our brothers and sisters are rewarded equally for the amount of work put in, without a question.
I’ve listened to famous black cowboys speak on why they participate in timed events, and [they say] it's because they are judged by clocks and not people. [I think] the rodeo world is diverse, and I want all cowboys and cowgirls to feel like they have the same opportunities.
C&I: What have been the major takeaways from your experience in the industry?
Being apart of the rodeo industry, some of my key takeaways have been life lessons that will stick with me forever. You can’t get anywhere without working hard, you have to know your stuff - nothing about this way of life is easy and you have to be teachable cause there’s so much to learn and different ways to achieve your success in this industry.
Photo Credits: Ja'Dayia Kursh, Heath Herring, Jerrell Franklin