Surviving and Thriving

The Journey of Kyra King

At 15, Kyra King was competing in the largest ballet competition—the Youth American Grand Prix, a prestigious international ballet competition.

Born in Hawaii, she lived in multiple countries until she came back to the United States when she was 6, living in New Mexico.

“I grew up in my grandmother’s dance studio,” she says.

Her grandmothers, grandfathers, and great aunt had enjoyed entertainment careers in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

"They grew up dancing in my family's studio as well, since my great-grandparents started the studio in 1945," she says. 

Her grandmother took it over in the 1980s, and when King began training there, it was her mother who worked with her.

By 17, King made it to the finals in the competition, winning a scholarship to the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. She was mentored by Denise Jefferson, and trained under Alvin Ailey company dancers and choreographers, as well as trained and performed with other modern dance companies.

By 19, she was signed with New York Model Management, working as a professional model, as well.

But then her life changed drastically.

She met a man and fell in love, but the relationship eventually took a terrible turn.

“It was a very abusive relationship,” she says. “I was in that for nine years. I had two kids. I put everything to the side to be in survival mode and deal with that crazy relationship and ended up going through a lot of things during those nine years.”

One day, when her youngest son was 9 months old, she planned an escape.

“I woke up one day and realized I didn’t have to deal with this anymore, and didn’t want my kids to grow up in this dysfunction and chaos. I wanted to make something of my life.”

She was able to get out, and two years ago moved to the Valley where her mom now lives.

"Because of the support my mom and family gave me, I was blessed to be able to focus on being a mom to my two sons, and take the time to heal and rediscover who I am," she says. 

And then just six months after she moved to the Valley, something unique fell into her lap.

Wendy Russo, a pageant coach, saw King on Facebook and sent her a message.

“She reached out to me and said, ‘Why aren’t you doing pageants? You’d be great at it,’” King shares.

Never having competed in a pageant and not knowing much about pageants, she hesitated at first.

“I’ve always wanted to do community service, and this is a great way to get involved in the community,” she says. “I learned it’s very platform-based and that they really do care about what you do in the community. It’s not just walking or modeling—it’s about how passionate you are about your cause and how you make a difference.”

King decided to enter. Although she was used to being on stage from her dancing days, she had several sessions with Wendy to work on interviewing before competing for the title of Miss Arizona for America, which is a newer category that is under the Mrs. America pageant. It’s a category for ages 18 and up, who can be married or divorced, and can have children.

She won.

In March, she found herself in Las Vegas for nationals, competing for Miss for America, where she placed in the top six.

True to her goal, she got involved with the community, and has also used her voice for good.

She served as the chairperson for equity diversity inclusion for Scottsdale Parent Council, where she helped put together workshops for community members and parents to bring diversity and equity to the community; has spoken at town halls; spoke at a big mental health summit, helped pass a bill that makes it illegal to expel children from school up through age 7; and has shared her story in hopes of helping others.

“Coming out of an abusive situation you don’t have to let it run your life,” she says. “You can use your pain for purpose. You use it to harness power from what you learned during that time to push you forward and find your purpose. It’s not easy, but you can do it. Even if you have kids and you have to build your life again and start over, it can be an opportunity too. You can discover who you are and reinvent yourself, and really create the life that you want.”

Helping others has become a passion, and so she’s also been busy building a consulting firm for the last year called Transformational Leadership Associates. She coaches individuals and organizations, guiding them through a deep self-inquiry, helping get in touch with their full self-expression as a leader, and being cultivators of their relationships and environments. This allows access for their business to thrive and grow exponentially. 

"The methodology we use is Tribal Leadership, created by my grandfather, John King, who wrote the bestseller by the same name," King says. "I was mentored by him and have done coaching in my past, as well.

"I'm going to continue building my leadership consulting firm—my business partner and I have a big vision for transforming the culture of companies, changing the status quo of 'leadership' trainings, and what organizations are actually capable of doing in this world. And, I'm also starting another business. Being very entrepreneurial, I always have a few ideas in the works. Because I also have a wellness background, I am currently working on building a retreat/wellness center."

Although she’s in a good place and thriving, she agrees that, “Figuring all of my stuff out has been quite a journey. But, I learned that I’m so strong for having gone through that. You have to be proud of how you handled certain situations and how you learned to navigate and use that as your power. Use the skills that you learned to thrive. You have to believe in yourself and know that you have control over your life and to go after your dreams.

"I hope people are inspired by my ability to overcome, be a single mom, and accomplish all that I have. And, I want to continue to be of service to others. There is so much more I will do to impact the world—I'm only getting started."

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