Ja’Dayia Kursh is most famously known for being crowned the first black rodeo queen in Arkansas. But, there’s a whole lot more to her than that. From her upbringing in the western world circuit to breaking barriers in the rodeo space, she is full of grit and determination. We chatted with the rodeo queen to learn more about her life and the challenges she has faced and overcome as the first black rodeo queen in Arkansas. With plans to head to law school soon and continue her reign as a rodeo queen, there’s a lot more to Ja’Dayia than one might suspect. Read the full-length interview below, we know you’re going to love her as much as we do.
Ranch Road Lightning Round:
What is your favorite way to wear boots?
My favorite way to wear my cowboy boots is to have my jeans tucked in them.
Work on being a better human.
What’s your personal superpower?
I think that my personal superpower is my personality; both dominant and giving.
Favorite boots from Ranch Road Boots:
The ARCHER COUNTY BOOTS they are just the most darling ankle boot with the perfect little heel.
“a hog killin' time” I’m always up for one of those.
1. What got you into the western world? Has it always been a part of your life?
I got into the western world when I was a young girl around the age of six, I met a woman that gave me the reins to my freedom. Yes, and it will be a part of the rest of my life.
2. What was it like growing up in Arkansas?
Growing up in Arkansas was the driving force that made me the young woman that I am today. It has made me set goals for myself that are higher than even my peers expected me to reach.
3. Do you have a favorite cowgirl/boy throughout time/history? Who is it and what do you love about them?
My favorite cowboy in history is Bill Pickett, a legendary cowboy and steer wrestler. He paved the way for black cowgirls and cowboys, he also invented one of our main events at the rodeo.
4. What do you love about western culture? How do you channel your inner “cowgirl” in your work, life, and style respectively?
I love everything about the western culture, the kind of values it instilled in me at such a young age are the kind of values every cowboy and cowgirl should carry, Hard Work being the biggest one. The western industry has taught me the kind of lessons I wouldn't learn in any other industry.
5. For those that don’t know, please explain what does it mean to be a Rodeo Queen?
A rodeo queen is a young woman that represents an organization as their ambassador, traveling from rodeo to rodeo, representing and promoting the sport of rodeo the queen way.
6. What’s an accessory (or a “thing”) a Rodeo Queen can never be without?
Hairspray. Hairspray is like rodeo queen perfume… can we really spray “too much”. No…
7. What made you want to be a rodeo queen in the first place? What does it mean to you to be the first black rodeo queen?
I had always wanted to be a rodeo queen since I was a little girl, but when you don’t see women that look like you in positions that you wish to be in it’s hard for you to imagine yourself obtaining those positions. So it wasn’t until I was 16 when I competed for my very first rodeo queen pageant and won.
7. What is the greatest challenge of being the first one to do something no one has ever done before? Was there anyone who tried to discourage you to even try in the first place?
One of the greatest challenges I’ve found in doing something that a girl that looks like me hasn’t done before is not having someone to relate to while we all come with our own differences. But sometimes it’s hard when your difference is your skin color because it speaks so loudly before you ever open your mouth.
8. What would you say to little girls who look up to you and want to be like you since you’ve opened the door for them to do the same thing?
I would tell the little girls that look up to me to never allow someone to mute them, be who you are loudly, make them hear you, make them listen even if they don’t want to.
9. Would you consider yourself a trailblazer? If so, what gave you the courage to chart your own path?
In so many ways I could agree with people yes, I am blazing a trail for young women that don’t see themselves in positions in this industry because they don’t see any other girls that look like them in it. The trials and tribulations I had to go through to get here is what kept me motivated to achieve my goals and to make a difference.
10. What is the most rewarding part about being a rodeo queen?
The most rewarding part about being a rodeo queen for me has been the little girls that I have inspired, it is so rewarding to hear the words “ my daughter is gonna start rodeo queening because of you” or even the messages I get from little girls that tell me when they grow up they wanna be a rodeo queen.
11. You’re currently in college at the University of Arkansas with plans to go to law school. What inspired you to become a lawyer and what about it appeals to you?
Yes, I am currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas. I'm getting ready to enter my senior semester. I plan to go to law school and become a criminal defense attorney. Growing up with an incarcerated parent is one of the reasons I feel like I’ve been so drawn to the law side of the world. But the main reason being the change that I want to see within the system, as far as people being treated like people, and obtaining my law degree would place me in that position.
12. How do you hope to inspire future generations of girls in the western space and beyond to go after what they want regardless of who they are or what society may say they ‘should’ do?
I hope that through my stories and through my experiences I hope to inspire the next generation of western women that have never even seen themselves in positions as such. I want every little girl to see themselves in a position in this industry. I want this industry to look like the world.
13. What’s next for you both as a rodeo queen and otherwise?
I plan to continue to compete at rodeo queen pageant, with the hopes of winning my state title and going on to Miss Rodeo America, that would be amazing.
I also recently purchased BlackCowgirls Inc. I want to start an organization for young women of all colors that might wanna step into this world but are scared because of the things people say or how they are treated.
I plan to graduate with the class of 2021. I'm continuing onto law school to become an attorney.
You can get to know Ja'Dayia more by checking out her blog here.