“It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be unique. Stand apart from the crowd, you don’t want to always fit in. If you have a disability, turn it into an ability. Use that to empower other people.” -Bria Byrd


Bria Byrd was born with a visual impairment called Amblyopia. Amblyopia or lazy eye is a condition where abnormal development of the nerves between the brain and the retina causes vision problems in one eye. It usually begins in childhood and if left untreated, symptoms may worsen and lead to permanent vision loss. In this episode, Bria shares how it’s like to live with this disability as a teen with big dreams. As a Sophomore, pageant contestant, author, and volunteer for many organizations, Bria sure has a lot going on in her life. As exciting as it sounds, Bria also needs to overcome the challenges that come with them. Bria’s story proves that neither age nor disability can stop you from pursuing your dreams. Tune in as she shares tips on how to manage your disabilities, balance time, and reach your goals. Anyone can advocate and inspire others. Like Nike’s famous slogan says, “Just do it!” and you’ll find that it was not as scary or complicated as you thought it would be. 



01:54 You Are Unique

04:10 A Disability That Affects Children

10:03 Facts and Misconceptions About Pageantry

15:02 How to Balance Time 

19:12 Be Like Nike 



de de’s Books

Two Degree’s Series 

Rescued Heart Series

Bria’s Book 


Embrace your uniqueness. Tune in as @dedeCox and @BriaPByrd1, ambassador for @VIPSorg and author of These Heels Are Made For Talking share how you can turn your disability into ability and inspire others. #dedecox #kentuckyromanceauthor… Click To Tweet



05:41 “It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be unique. Stand apart from the crowd, you don’t want to always fit in.” -Bria Byrd

05:47 “If you have a disability, turn it into an ability. Use that to empower other people.” -Bria Byrd

 08:10 “You can follow your dreams even if you do have a form of a disability.”  -Bria Byrd

10:11 “Pageant is more about who you are inside.” -Bria Byrd

11:30 “Even though [competition] is a big responsibility, it is a lot of fun and it will prepare you for the future more.” -Bria Byrd

11:37 The more you grow up, you will realize that in life, you’ll have to take risks, take different chances, try something new, and it’ll boost your confidence even more within.” -Bria Byrd

19:18 “Don’t look back. Don’t look forward. Don’t be scared. Be in the moment right there and what happens, happens.” -Bria Byrd



Meet Bria Byrd:

de de met Bria through the pageant industry, from there they spoke of Bria’s journey as one of the few black female contestants. She was born with  Amblyopia, a condition that affects her vision. Bria talks confidently of her ability and not her disability in her book, These Heels Are Made For Talking

Connect with Visually Impaired Preschool  Service (VIPS): 




de de Cox This is de de Cox your Kentucky Romance Author we are bringing the podcast to you,  Unbridled Country Traditions and today I have a very, very special guest with me. Her name is Bria Byrd. I met Bria based on the fact that she reached out and said, “Will you help me?” Now when folks say that, of course you’re going to help them. You don’t know what you’re gonna help them with yet, but you are going to help them. So I want to introduce you to miss Bria Byrd. Say hello.

Bria Byrd Hello.

de de Cox So I wanted to give a little bit of background on Bria. Her mom and I connected first and then they came over to the house and we talked about the pageant industry. And I want you to tell them a little bit about your competition and the different pageants that you have competed in the different systems.

Bria Byrd Okay. Wll, first, I started off in county fair last year back in October. And at first it was really hard for me because I wasn’t used to it. And but it boosted my confidence because I got to meet new friends and try something new. And then went to the festival level where I actually met you and your buttermilk festival pageant. And I got one of your supreme titles and it was even more amazing and me my mom contacted you. And you told me to start an outstanding team. And that was even more amazing experience to get into.

de de Cox Most people don’t realize there is a really underground world in the pageant industry. There are a lot of different systems, but I want to bring you forward to something that her mother had told me when mom that may remember she said, “You have something unique about you.” And I was like there’s no way because I never noticed it. Of course she didn’t tell anybody either so that’s why we didn’t notice it. But I want you to tell everybody before we get into the book, I want you to tell them. What is so unique about you?

Bria Byrd Well, I was born with amblyopia, which is where the brain and one eye don’t connect and it’s a form of a disability. But for me, I wanted to turn it into an ability.

de de Cox Okay. Tell people what happens, I know because you told me, but take them through a walk when you hit the stage in your pageant heels. Tell them what you see because of what has taken place with you.

Bria Byrd Over me when I hit the stage is different cuz of my eyesight and everything. The lights will be different for me and how I center people. But it helps me be more open what my disability and turn into a superpower rather than a disability.

de de Cox So when you hit the stage, are you able to see the audience? Are you able to see the judges or just exactly how does your brain register what the vision is that you see out in front of you?

Bria Byrd I do you see the judges and the audience? It just may look like my right eye is looking a little slightly over when I turned my head so I have to turn my head even more so I stand up straight.

de de Cox So you compensate so other people don’t see that?

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am.

de de Cox Okay. So I want to take you I want to move forward because I want you to tell them why you wrote your book. These heels are Made for Talking. This is like the coolest little thing in the whole wide world. So tell them why you wrote the book.

Bria Byrd Well as I started off as a journal about my pageant experience and when COVID hit, we decided to turn into a children’s book. And it’s about not letting your disability hold you back, trying new things, and also meeting new friends.

de de Cox Okay. How far has your pageant heels taking you? Have you gone outside of Kentucky for any book signings?

Bria Byrd No, ma’am. Right now, we’re still locally in Kentucky. But I do want to get outside of Kentucky and branch out more so we can spread more awareness about it.

de de Cox How many children, and you correct me if I’m wrong when I asked this question, does it affect young women more or does it affect young men more?

Bria Byrd Well, actually, it’s between the ages of three and five years when it should be checked for and it’s two out of 20 children.

de de Cox Okay, so the three to five do they like give the eye doctor? Where do they go to get the examination needed to check for this?

Bria Byrd Well, we actually want to get more screenings in schools because schools can detect it if they try hard enough. But also you can go to the doctor and get checked for it.

de de Cox Okay. How old were you when you found out that you had this?

Bria Byrd I believe I was 8 or might have been second grade, first grade around there where my aunt she actually realized when I would take pictures and stuff she was seeing my eye goes slightly out and it’s also known as the lazy eye so people can detect on that too.

de de Cox Okay. Did they do surgery or did you just say, “Okay. I got this. I’m going to deal with it. It’s part of me.” What did you do when you found out?

Bria Byrd Well, unfortunately, we didn’t find it in time. So for me surgery wasn’t an option. But if it is called from the ages of three and five, they can’t be corrected.

de de Cox Okay. Okay. So when you wrote the book, These Heels are Made for Talking, you wrote it because of your ability, I love to say disability. What do you hope that a young girl, possibly your age or even younger, takes away from the book?

 “It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be unique. Stand apart from the crowd, you don’t want to always fit in.” -Bria Byrd

Bria Byrd I want them to take away, it’s okay to be different. It’s okay being meek. Stand apart from the crowd, you don’t want to always fit in. And if you do have a disability, turn into ability. Use that to empower other people.

 “If you have a disability, turn it into an ability. Use that to empower other people.” -Bria Byrd

de de Cox Okay. I know mom is as am I, very into the community service. And I know mom make sure that you are too. I want you to tell everyone that’s listening, what you’re doing right now to bring awareness to what you have.

Bria Byrd For right now, I’m actually the ambassador for VIPS Visually Impaired Preschool in Louisville. And I actually have a conference this Wednesday.

de de Cox Oh, congratulations. Oh my gosh! That’s just like, two three days.

Bria Byrd  And I can’t wait to speak because I’ll be able to get more involved in speaking engagements and other community service activities that they held each year.

de de Cox So when you have this conference, give a little bit of detail. Is it through zoom? Is it online?

Bria Byrd It is through zoom.

de de Cox And where can they find it? Is it through the actual VIPS? Is it a .com? Or do they?

Bria Byrd I believe the zoom link is on the website.

de de Cox Okay. Okay. What’s the website?

Bria Byrd VIPS Visually Impaired Preschool.

de de Cox Okay. Now, when you speak, what have they asked you to speak about?

Bria Byrd They asked me to speak about how this actually came about how we figured out I have amblyopia and what it has done for me, the pros and cons, how I’ve lived with it in life.

de de Cox The overall, do you know, and I don’t know if I’m using the correct word in my mouth. Their mission statement or their platform gifts do they have a mission statement?

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am. Their mission statement is they want to empower families and young children.

de de Cox Okay. Now, when I think of visually impaired, I think also blindness. So are you also helping some children that possibly could be blind or that are how to get in contact with this? Or  do you just send them the resources?

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am. I do want to be an advocate for all visually impaired children. Because even though it’s different, different for every children, each different type of like, visually impaired, but we’re all in this together. So I want to let them know it’s okay, no matter what form you have of it.

de de Cox Okay. You’re how old now?

Bria Byrd I’m 16 years old.

de de Cox And what grade are you in?

Bria Byrd I’m a sophomore.

de de Cox Okay. So knowing that your sophomore 16 years old, I know you do want to continue this platform to take it into the pageant industry?

“You can follow your dreams even if you do have a form of a disability.”  -Bria Byrd

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am. I really do. Because this is really dear to my heart, especially since I have it. So I wanted to let kids know that you can follow your dreams no matter even if you do have a form of a disability.

de de Cox Okay. Taking now that you’re 16, oh, by the way, do you have driver’s license.

Bria Byrd Not yet. I really do want to get my permit, though. Hopefully by the summer.

de de Cox You realize Mama’s just, Ooh, she going nervous about all this.

Bria Byrd She’s gonna be in the class. She actually doesn’t want to get on the road. But it’s okay.

de de Cox It’s okay. I love your mom. Now, taking the book, I know that COVID has prevented us, you did a book signing with me. And I want you to tell the audience about the little girl that you impacted. She did such a wonderful job with this little girl. And I want her to tell you the story, Charlotte, and I want to tell you the story. She was amazing. She was amazing. So tell us the story.

Bria Byrd Well, when little Charlotte came in, she instantly brightened up my mood. I don’t know that day. I was just a little doll, you know, is a huge big signing day. I saw the little Charlotte come in. I heard a mom say you can go around and pick one book. And when she came to my table, she did a little dance because she saw that my book was pink and all the pretty little dresses. And her mom opened up my book and showed her some of the pictures and everything. She asked her if she wanted this book. And she said yes, I love it. And she did a little dance. It was so cute. And I even got that hold her and she was just so precious. She was just a joy of light, like a ball of light.

de de Cox So I want to ask you something that may be just a little bit, may be not negative, but what do your friends, your peers, think about you being such a very young published author? You’re 16 and you have written a book? Do they support you? Do they ask questions, but what do they think about this?

Bria Byrd Well, most of peers don’t even know I’m a published author.

de de Cox They don’t? You’re not bragging, but I’m not bragging. Okay. We all have to brag.

“Pageant is more about who you are inside.” -Bria Byrd

Bria Byrd But the ones that do now they’ll usually ask me about the pageant experience, especially the girls in my grade. They’ll ask me, “How do I get into all this? Do you want to try a pageant but I thought it was just mainly about beauty and looks.” I usually tell them that no, it was more about who you are inside. And it’s true what people say they look for what’s on the inside, not the outside of you.

de de Cox Okay. I want to ask you, I know that each system is different, if you had to pick a portion of competition, because you know, everybody has fashion fun. You have your evening gown. You have your onstage question. You have your fitness. You have your interview. So if you had to pick one portion of the competition, which is your favorite?

Bria Byrd Well, I would have to say, fun fashion is my favorite, because it’s where I show out who I am on the outside. And like what I like to do and have fun, but my sense of style is because every girl style is different. You don’t want to all be the same sparkly glitz and glam girl, some athletic so I put both of those into a mixture. But interview is really important. So it’s really close up. They’re tied for me too, because it’s how the judges get to know you for you and see what you will bring to the table and how you can hold that title.

de de Cox Absolutely. So if you could give one piece of advice, one piece of advice to a young girl that is thinking about entering a competition? What piece of advice would you give her? Not about competing, but what she’s getting ready to walk into? What would you tell her to keep her positive?

“Even though [competition] is a big responsibility, it is a lot of fun and it will prepare you for the future more.” -Bria Byrd

Bria Byrd I will let her know that even though it is a big responsibility is a lot of fun. And it will prepare you for the future more and more. The more you grow up, you will realize that in life, you’ll have to take risks, take different chances, try something new, and it’ll boost your confidence even more within.

The more you grow up, you will realize that in life, you’ll have to take risks, take different chances, try something new, and it’ll boost your confidence even more within.” -Bria Byrd

de de Cox Okay. Knowing that you have competed, I know you’re getting ready for the Miss Kentucky outstanding team, I want you to tell them what your challenge is. Because during that talent also affects that ability that you have, so what’s your talent?

Bria Byrd My talent is African jazz dance.

de de Cox And how do you compensate by, do you lay the stage out? Do you walk out on the stage beforehand so to kind of get a lay of the land? Or how do you do this so that you’re able to stay in that vicinity of the stage in the vicinity of the judges? What do you do?

Bria Byrd Well, when they give us time to have rehearsals of the dance and go through the motions of music works with it. For me, I will have to focus more on like the space and narrowed down since it’s gonna be even bigger space, so I have to spread it out more than what I’m used to. But for my eyesight, it works perfectly fine actually. It doesn’t affect that really.

de de Cox Okay. If you were given the choice of doing the talent, are sharing the platform, what would you do first? Would you share the platform more or would you share the talent more? Because I know the talent is a part of your heritage. I know the book is a part of you and that’s part of the platform. Do you tie them both in or how do you do that?

Bria Byrd I would actually promote the book more since it, I also do have this I noticed my heritage as an African American. But children it can happen between the ages of three and five.

de de Cox Okay. So when you have your challenge, and then when you have your platform, what do you see yourself doing more.  Do you do your talent more, because I know you are a beautiful young African American Girl. But I also know that platform relates to those heels into that ability so what do you try to promote more?

Bria Byrd I try and promote the book more because it’s actually promotes literature too. So I’m promoting two things at once. I want kids to learn to read more like I do. I love reading ever since I was a little kid, and to find that book that is special for you. And if that’s my book, that’s even better, because they’ll get more involved and the parents was learned about visually impaired children and to have more awareness raised about it and to get their children tested.

de de Cox Okay. I want you to give the audience your website where they can purchase the book because I know it’s on Amazon because I know I’ve seen the book I’ve read the book so but I want you to tell them where they can find it.

Bria Byrd You can find These Heels Are Made for Talking on Amazon just type in These Heels Are Made for Talking

de de Cox Yeah. You have a very unusual spelling of her name as well as her last name because I spelled the name wrong. So give that spelling too.

Bria Byrd B-R-I-A Bria B-Y-R-D Byrd.

de de Cox Now imagine how many times I spelled that wrong and I have but she’s such a person when I started this spelling that because my name is very unusual anyway, but she’s so unique. So I want to ask you, when we talk about the ability, when we talk about the pageants, when we talk about the book, and you’re just as a sophomore?

Bria Byrd I’m a sophomore.

de de Cox We’re sophomore, so I know you’re back to school.

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am.

de de Cox I want to know how balancing time affects the volunteerism, affects the platform. How do you juggle so many different things?

Bria Byrd Well, I actually live by a Feeding America and I have cheer practice. So we only have to practice two times a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays and we have games on Fridays, usually. And we also have a competition coming up so that’s even more to deal with. But I juggle all that, but I just take time and put, my mom actually, she made a spreadsheet for me that I can help to write things down studies in a calendar because I won’t look at the calendar. Or she’ll also set a reminder on my phone, too, since we’re always on our phones as teenagers these days. And they’ll pop up like two days before to remind me that I have this to do and when I write something, or she put something in my phone, or if it’s on the spreadsheet, I will commit to that and make sure I schedule other things around that.

de de Cox Okay, I got you. Yeah, you did mention Feeding America.

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am.

de de Cox Can you tell us what that is? Feeding America is it a blessings?

Bria Byrd It’s sort of like a backpack? What you’re saying my blessing?

de de Cox Well, I know that mom used to take you from school and after school, did you like set backpacks or did you stuffed food?

Bria Byrd That was my things in a backpack. I did hurt because I was at the YMCA. And they actually helped me and everything with that. So I just want to get back even more. And that was my original platform until we learned that I could use amblyopia as a platform.

de de Cox Absolutely. So telling your peers, I know you stay involved because you had no choice, I know your mom. You’re gonna stay involve, community service, volunteering, philanthropy.

Bria Byrd Because that’s just my mama is here.

de de Cox Well, yeah, but I, you know, we’re just where gonna bring mama in because mama counts and we love Mama. So I want to ask you, what do you tell your peers about volunteering? Do they think it’s, you know, a waste of time? They can’t believe that you do all this, what do you tell them when they say, “Oh, my gosh, Bria, you’re involved in so much.” What do you tell them about volunteering?

Bria Byrd Well, they actually think it’s actually kind of cool, because it’s a way to give back to your community and help that community for more, because it’s nothing better than getting that feeling when you know that you helped someone that day. So I usually let them know and give them the sites and everywhere and locations of where all that Feeding America are located. Since we actually have one, two, I believe, located in Hardin County. And since I was so close to one, I usually will tell my friends, I can have my mom pick this up and we’ll go together and we can have even more fun.

de de Cox I know that you have volunteered with the Veterans Administration, tell us a little bit about what you guys did with the Veterans Administration, the hospital?

Bria Byrd Well, we collected sweat pants, and I believe socks. We collected sweat pants and socks. Since my dad is actually a veteran, it meant so much to me that I can help even more veterans because in COVID times I know that it is tough, and not everybody has the resources that they need.

de de Cox And now I know that you’ll graduate when you’re 18. Is that when you graduate?

Bria Byrd Yes, ma’am.

de de Cox Okay. So where do you want to go once you graduate? What do you want to pursue? Are we going to go to college or what are we going to do?

Bria Byrd I want to go to the University of Kentucky or University of Alabama to become a veterinarian, but also a minor in communications.

de de Cox Really a veterinarian? Why a veterinarian? She caught me off guard on that one.

Bria Byrd I love animals. And even though I can’t have one right now, always, whenever I went to my aunt’s or my friend’s house, they would always have dogs or cats, any type of animal I have loved them so much. And whenever I see a deer or for example, or skunk, even a skunk, I don’t care how sticky they are. They have families in case too. You never know. I just feel so bad when they run over and they’re just left there.

de de Cox That’s true. That’s true. That just breaks my heart because I’m a fur baby lover. I have rescued I have two dogs and a cat is you now. If you could tell anybody a piece of advice that you have been given, whether it be for Mama, whether it be from daddy or brother or sister that is impacted you, what advice would that be?

Bria Byrd For my brother, be like Nike and Just do it.

de de Cox Oh, that’s true. Just do it.

“Don’t look back. Don’t look forward. Don’t be scared. Be in the moment right there and what happens, happens.” -Bria Byrd

Bria Byrd Just do it. So don’t look back. Don’t look forward. Don’t be scared of it. Just be in the moment right there and what happens happens?

de de Cox That is very good advice. So I want to say thank you to Miss Bria Byrd.

Bria Byrd You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

de de Cox And you’re gonna see her, I don’t know if we’ll be live streaming or how it will go. But I know that this Kentucky outstanding team is taking place in June. So you can send your well wishes to and I’m very, very excited. Oh, we forgot to ask, are you going to do another book?

Bria Byrd We’ll just have to wait where the heels take me.

de de Cox That’s true. These Heels Are Made for Walking and These Heels Are Made for Talking whichever one you want. So this is Miss Bria Byrd. This is de de Cox. This is your Kentucky Romance Author. We are Unbridled Country Traditions and I’m your designated driver. Thank you.