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Thursday, February 1, 2024

Why Titleholders Leave/Resign

 I'm writing this post on the heels of seeing two fabulous titleholders leave organizations that are considered to be 'reputable pageants'. I find it very interesting when titleholders resign because having been a titleholder, it can say a lot about the organization. Let's explore some possibilities:

1. The titleholder felt mistreated in some way. Looking at a recent Miss Universe country/program, this makes the second titleholder to consecutively resign after the national pageant. Something is clearly happening within that organization to make titleholders leave. We also see this with a recent Miss Earth situation. These are two major pageants - this is not ok.

2. The titleholder had another opportunity. Realistically - life happens. Maybe they had the opportunity to go to school somewhere that would change their availability or eligibility. Maybe they had the opportunity to become a mom or change jobs. 

3. Ok, no one is talking about this, but I'm going to say it: the titleholder was not that interested in the first place. Frankly, they took the opportunity away from someone who would enjoy representing that area or cause for a full year (well, took away their crowning moment, opportunity to compete at the national/international/state program, etc). This is not ok either. If you do not want the job, don't apply for it. 

From the director side of things, representatives are crowned because they promise (at least they do in the interview room, in front of the judges) to represent the program in the community, to help market it, and to come back next year to crown their successor. When titleholders leave or resign, it puts the program in a bad place for the next year. 

As we discussed above, yes, there are several reasons why one may consider leaving a program, but if you are considering it, please make sure it does not make you look like a crown chaser or a sore loser. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Miss America Review

Full disclosure: I'm writing this blog having purchased much of my MAO wardrobe from Ms. Robin when she owned La Casa Hermosa, I work closely with JC Productions at the USA Ambassador national pageant, am a former MAO state contestant who earned scholarships, and I am a sponsor of a state program. 

The Miss America pageant was held on January 14, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. It is now headed by Robin Fleming and identifies itself as the "Miss America Opportunity". It also now references five points of the crown, including scholarship, style, success, service, and sisterhood. Here's a quick review of the evening's show:

High Points

  • Hosts: while some complained about their ad-libbing or extra content (which yes, I can agree with), you could not beat that they seemed like they actually wanted to be there, understood the program, and understood the job for the evening(s) (or didn't say something that ended up sounding condensing, sexist, or racist, etc). There's something to say about hosts that can energize an entire room to dance or cheer on command. It's called commanding the room and commanding the attention of the audience. If your audience leaves feeling tired, bored, or ready for bed, your hosts did not do their job right. And let me say that I often complain about non-pageant people as hosts and I did not have much to complain about with these two. Kudos!
  • Staging: If the stage or production looks boring, cheap, flat, or likely choose to not participate because it doesn't look "quality" or of the "caliber" you want. Well, at least that's me. I'm not investing money and time into a rinky dink pageant that claims to be #1...and let's be honest, that's why productions like National American Miss command the attention that they do. Staging matters. Production matters. The "showmanship" matters! This year, we had the lights, the music, the risers...kudos again here. 
  • Featuring the titleholder: While I think Grace could have come to chat during that weird down time in the middle of the talents, I'm happy to see that she was introduced right after opening number and was given ample time to have her final walk/moments. I could have used a few more snippets of her year as filler/commercial etc though. I also heard (total hearsay) that her instrument got wet at her last appearance so she could not give a final talent performance like Morgan did...otherwise, yes, I would have enjoyed a final talent feature from her.
  • Glam/Magic/Energy: The contestants understood the assignment when it came to wardrobe and styling. The music choices were energetic and made you want to move! The energy overall was what we needed to show that Miss America is alive, moving forward, relevant, and thriving.
  • Commercial-less production: While I did miss my snack break, I have to give kudos here in that the production (generally) just kept rolling. Without any commercial breaks, it was definitely a hustle for the contestants, but a 2.5ish hour show is not bad at all. 
  • The Expo is back: when I visited Miss America (many moons ago), the expo was one of the highlights of the experience. It featured so many sponsors and vendors - it was always an enjoyable experience. I'm glad that others get to witness this tradition as well. 
  • The schedule was posted: Ok, this feels so minor to some, but every time I went to Miss America, I never knew when events were or where they were happening. This year's team created a full experience with the expo, fashion show, breakfast, and more. Is there room for growth? Yes. Was this awesome for a first time? Yes. Only up from here!
Points for Improvement:
  • Surprising the contestants: Ok, hear me out first. Any titleholder should be prepared to speak off the cuff with the public on any of those topics, so they should have all been prepared to speak in a traditional "question" format AND a "public speaking" format. However, I'm sure it was incredibly anxiety inducing for the contestants in that moment...then announcing they had not rehearsed it...then making them play musical chairs on stage? Meh. Also, the "production person" in me panicked when they got out of order - panicked because I didn't know if the judges would know who was who. Then they were asked questions in contestant order anyway? Meh. Some details here felt unnecessary. 
  • Diversity of the judging panel: Yes, there was diversity in job, age, and experience, but I love to see diversity in backgrounds/heritages/races too. For a number of years, there was a rule (perhaps unwritten??) that the judges panel should demonstrate diversity. Personally, it's really cool (and quite empowering) to see someone of your own background in that position. Just food for thought that if you require it of your franchisees, that you do the same. And if you don't, perhaps you should.
  • That weird intermission: Again, I understand that it could have been a number of things...for example, maybe those tap mics were not on and production needed a minute. But to say "we'll be right back" was weird and made people think it was an actual intermission and so they actually got up. Ok, so maybe it was a hosting mishap and they just shouldn't have said that. But then Terrence J. coming on and calling people back. Awkward. Again, I was a fan of the hosting, so maybe that was just an awkward moment.
  • The robe: Ok, I get the want to throwback to tradition, but it's always so weird...the contestant is freaking out, is likely sweaty, and you're throwing a robe on her. That's like the fur coat the winner used to win at Miss Maryland - it's great. Great idea. Cool. But she's likely sweaty and sticky. Maybe a cool, formal robing ceremony on Facebook live or something? Just food for thought.
  • More videos: Contestants are there for a week. Instead of awkward pauses or down time, throw up a video showing the experience...or them coming out of interview...or something. Show future contestants what the experience is like. Or what about self-produced 'where to go to register for your local pageant' OR 'check out how much we love these sponsors' OR 'scholarships paid by the program' OR 'it all starts at a local' etc etc. 
  • Asking the 'Forever Miss America's" to come backstage: ok, this felt like a local, basic production here. If you know formers are coming, tell them ahead of time when to come back (i.e "after talent, head back stage for the Forevers segment"). They should automatically report backstage. Send an email or make a phone call or something - just felt basic to me.
  • The theatre was...small: It does sound super cool to say they sold out. Yes! But there were so many people who wanted to be in attendance that it almost felt like (scholarship) dollars were missed out on. Hearsay says that MAO will be back in the same theatre for a few years, but I hope they definitely think about something bigger as they continue to make their comeback...because I want to come back and watch, but couldn't get a ticket! 

These points for improvement by no means outweigh the energy of the final shows, the magic of having the expo back, and the (exhausting) countless amount of hours that Ms. Robin and her team putting into bringing the magic back to Miss America. To those who complain that it 'was not the Miss America' that they know and love, you're right. It's bigger. It's better. It's improving. If we want the program to survive and thrive, we have to move forward and the boring basic days of flat productions, boring music, and energy-less shows are OUT. While I still love a good 'ol swimsuit (and still pray for it's eventual return), I can enjoy saying: welcome back Miss America - I missed you!

Friday, December 1, 2023

How To Make Your Pageant Resume Stand Out

You may not know this but some pageant directors do not give your resumes/platform statement/paperwork to the judges until minutes before the interviews begin. Some give the paperwork a week or more in advance. Some pageants do not have resumes at all (if you are unsure, ask). 

So how do you stand out when the judges may have just a few moments to eyeball your paperwork? Let’s explore a few options:

Never leave anything blank:

Some people say “oh well, I do not have any awards or honors, so I’ll leave this blank”.

What a waste. If anything, you skipping this part will make you stand out in a bad way. A judge may even ask, “why did you leave this blank” or “why did you not list any honors and awards”? 

Something to consider: they are likely looking at other resumes that are FULL of awards and honors (or other full categories). Do not leave anything out; leaving a space blank almost makes you look unqualified when next to the other contestants and their paperwork!

Advice: find out what is asked for on your pageant paperwork ahead of time and look to fill each category by doing work outside of the pageant. Maybe you could apply for a writing award or community service award. Maybe you could start volunteering with a local food bank or clothing drive. Whatever the case, show that you care about the job by putting in the work AHEAD of pageant time so you do not leave anything blank.

KNOW your paperwork:

You should be able to explain EVERYTHING on your resume. If your mom or coach is writing your paperwork and you never read it over, it will lead to failure. Inevitably, a judge will ask something on your paperwork and if you cannot explain it or do not know what it is, it is a dead giveaway that you did not care enough to review your paperwork…so how much care will you give to the job of being the titleholder? 

For example, if the judge asks “what did you like about volunteering at the State Food Bank” and you reply with “I never did that” or “I don’t remember…that was a long time ago,” you have just wasted an excellent opportunity to have a conversation with the judge. Maybe they are asking because they like the organization or have volunteered there too. Know your paperwork - keep a copy with you in your pageant binder, review it in your room, review it before your interview, review it again before your on-stage question, and even keep a copy on your phone. 

Sample questions:

  • What did you like about volunteering at XYZ organization?
  • What did you do as Class President?
  • Why/how did you earn the ABC Award?

Do Your Research:

What is the job of a titleholder? What is an ambassador? What really is “marketing” “recruiting” or “gaining sponsorships”? If you do not understand the job fully, you will not able to explain why you should have it! 

Review the pageant online - what does the mission statement say? Are they looking for a role model who volunteers OR a model in front of a camera? Are they active on social media or do they ignore social media? What events or organizations do they support.

Know the job you are applying for so you can speak with confidence when asked about the job.

Sample questions:

  • Why should you win this pageant?
  • What is the responsibility of a titleholder?
  • What do you look forward to doing as the titleholdeR?
  • How will you market the pageant?
  • What will our social media look like when you are the titleholder?

Practice Speaking Your Resume:

Do not just write the words of your resume, speak the words too! Does the grammar make sense? Can you explain a specific award or honor? What will you specifically say about a certain experience? How did something inspire you? 

Your interview is your opportunity to share why you are qualified for the job of the next titleholder. Make sure you can tell the judges why you are the best choice by filling your resume with relevant experiences, qualifications, and words. You must then be able to SPEAK about your resume/qualifications/experiences because the judges do not always get time to read it.

And IF they DO read it, they may not see/understand how each thing qualifies you! You must explain it! NEVER assume that the judges see the connections or important points that you see. Never assume; be prepared to speak and explain. 

Format Your Resume Correctly:

While I do not endorse changing the required format, I do advise making your paperwork neat and orderly. Consider adding bullet points and consider proofreading (and having at least 3 others proofread as well) your paperwork.

Make sure your paragraphs are aligned. Make sure nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb. Pay attention to the details; did the pageant ask everyone to submit a one-page resume and you submitted 3 pages? Did they ask for a photo in the top left corner and your picture is no where to be found? Paying attention to the details proves the type of titleholder you are going to be. Your paperwork is often your first impression - what is it saying about you?

If you need a paperwork edit or review, email me and let's get started:

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

5 Body Language Mistakes To Avoid In Pageants

You spend so much time working on the wardrobe and the walking, but are you forgetting about your body language? It deserves some thought too! Here are 5 Body Language Mistakes To Avoid In Pageants:

1. Not making eye contact with your judges: if you ignore them, they will ignore you. Looking around the room makes you look disinterested and like you don't care.

2. Refusing to smile or show some sort of enthusiasm while on stage: unless you are trying to win "Miss Grumpy USA", you need to smile. A smile makes you approachable and happy looking

3. Playing with stuff: don't touch things on the judges table during interview, don't fiddle with your dress, don't pluck at your hair, don't snap your pantyhose. Fidgeting is a clear indication of nervousness.

4. Crossing your arms: don't cross your arms in front of you while standing on stage or during an interview - you will look closed off and unapproachable. This includes clasping your hands in front of you or just blocking your body. Instead, give the appearance of "open" and "approachable".

5. Slouching: the crown will fall off if you slouch or have poor posture and NO ONE wants that! Always stand like you have the crown already on your head! Roll those shoulders back and pretend a string is pulling you upwards.

Get started on your journey to the crown today with us at

Thursday, October 8, 2020

10 Pageant Lessons from the President/VP Debates

In one debate, you could barely hear a solid point of view without interruption. In another, you heard a lot of "dodging the question". Regardless of your political views, there are many lessons that contestants can take away from the recent Presidential and Vice-President are our TOP 10:

  1. Avoiding the question is obvious and it is rude to the person asking the question (and to those hearing it). Answer the question to the best of your ability and tie it to something relevant that you can talk about. Do not be random. Do not go rogue and say whatever you want. Stick to what was asked. 
  2. Do not jump to answer the question right away. Rushing may cause you to fluster, use filler words, and sometimes even forget your words or train of thought. Take a moment, breathe, then respond.
  3. You are allowed to use your face, hands,  vocal expression, and body language. Do not sit or stand frozen. Oh and your "listening face" counts too - what does your face look like while a question is being asked OR while someone is speaking. Record yourself doing an interview and watch your listening face - it tells more than you think!
  4. Use facts, data, and history. Have facts about your platform? Important details about your state? Use the information so you sound informed, educated, and have support for your statements and claims. Be sure to research your facts BEFORE the interview to ensure that they are indeed correct. Do not just make things up. Someone on the panel may be an expert in this topic and may call you out on it. 
  5. Use your opening and closing statements wisely. For example, if your pageant allows for a closing statement, you could use it to convince the judges or the audience of why you are the best choice.
  6. PREPARE. If you do not know what you are talking about, it will be obvious. Do not be afraid to ask for clarifications, when necessary. 
  7. Respect the time limit. If a judge has to shut you down (ask you stop talking) several times after the time limit expires, not only are you being rude, but you can also kiss the crown goodbye. 
  8. Know why you are qualified and do not be afraid to talk about it. You should know your resume top to bottom, left to right, inside and out. When asked a question, you should be able to quickly recall items from your resume and insert them into your answer to demonstrate that you are experienced, qualified, and capable of handling the job. Doing so is not bragging, but instead, demonstrating that you are qualified for the job.
  9. Decorum counts. Do not insult another person. Hold your tongue. If you cannot think of something good to say about someone, something, an organization, etc, do not say anything at all. Instead, keep the interview positive and upbeat, always. Negativity has a nasty taste and trust that it will stay with a judge forever. 
  10. They are watching your family too (i.e. the media watched who hugged whom, whom was wearing a mask or not, etc). The people who come with you to the pageant are a reflection of you. Everyone should dress AND act the part. For example, your guests should not be walking around the hotel with you in rollers, booty shorts, and their favorite gorilla tee shirt. Look the part! Also, disrespect, from anyone, will not be tolerated. This includes rude behavior to the pageant staff. Remind your family: they do not just crown the girl, they also crown the family.
These are just a few, of the many, lessons that we can take away from the recent debates. Keep an eye on the upcoming debates and see what you can notice - send us a message about what you noticed in the next one!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

WIN the Virtual Pageant!

Many pageants are now turning to virtual events to find their winners, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So how can you stand out in a virtual pageant or competition? Here are 5 quick tips to help you WIN:

1. Plan and create the winning atmosphere.
This is your time to SHINE! Nothing should prevent you from giving your flawless performance, just as if you were on stage. Create the atmosphere for a winning by preparing ahead of time. For example, have a water bottle, kleenex, cough drop, chapstick, powder, paper, and pen nearby. You never know what you will need. Do not forget a copy of your pageant paperwork too!

Visualize being on-stage. The lights are on you. ALL eyes are on YOU - literally. Give your winning performance by preparing your winning atmosphere.

2. Plan your non-digital background. 
When you are at the pageant, there will (hopefully) be some sort of non-distracting background to help you stand out. Create the same environment by planning a solid, distraction-free background to compete against.

Never forget: Sometimes tech will fail us. A virtual, live competition would be one of the worst times to have your tech fail and have everyone see your toilet! Plan ahead: should you iron and hang a white sheet to cover your messy closet? Is there somewhere you could do your walks that is big enough without needing much adjusting? Could your interview be in a private, quiet space...perhaps with a locked door? Plan ahead to prevent visual mishaps - nothing behind or around you should be distracting to the judges. (I'm the first one to spot something shiny and get distracted!)

3. Amp up the energy!
Don't be afraid to turn up the 5 to 10 notches. Normally, your energy is being shown across a stage and into a ballroom with focused viewers. When your event goes virtual, eyes can be all over your room! And people get distracted, let's be honest. Draw them in with your must be conveyed across the screen and into the judges' hearts - you can't really make direct eye contact, so share your enthusiasm like crazy! Truly happy smiles, bright eyes, and excellent posture will serve you well on camera.

4. Practice on video.
Record your walks from your computer/device. Go back and watch it. Did you walk out of the camera area? Did your smile fall when you got to a specific area? Could your posture be improved anywhere? Record yourself then "play judge". Assess yourself honestly and see where you could improve. Do this weeks in advance AND multiple times to ensure that you have your routines solid for each phase of competition.

This will also help you figure out camera placement. Ideally, for an interview, place the camera at eye level. Whether you are standing or sitting, you do not want to appear as if you are looking down on the judges. You may also need to scoot your camera back when you start doing your stage walks/presentation because you will want to show your entire body, head to toe, at every stop on the stage.

5. Expect the unexpected.
Turn off your cell phone. Have a backup light(s) ready to go. Try to create a wired internet connection to create a solid line. Have a backup microphone and camera prepared. Test your sound and lighting ahead of time. Make sure your computer is well-charged AND plugged in. These are just a few ideas!

If something does happen, like the cat jumps in, a sibling starts screaming, etc: do NOT get flustered. Breathe. Smile...laugh if its your natural human reaction. Do not get angry on camera; always present your best self. The judges understand that everyone is at home (they likely are too) and that things happen. Make the best of it and let your most positive light consistently show through.

Best wishes as you prepare to go virtual! I'm happy to help with all of your pageant preparations - just email me: <3

Thursday, May 24, 2018

4 MAJOR Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Here are four common interview mistakes that keep you from winning the crown! Take a peek at these points below then COMMENT below - what do you think? Would you add anything to this list?

1. Seeing the crown as the "fix".
There's nothing wrong with you now. There's nothing wrong with you volunteering as "you" vs. "Miss State". To say that you will do something "if this happens..." or "as soon as..." is not the way to think. Believing that everything will align and be perfect once you win is not realistic. Sure, you may get more attention in a room with a crown on your head, but a crown does not define you or make you worthy. Start acting like that titleholder now...stop thinking the crown will solve everything and get out their and make an impact as YOU first. The crown should compliment you, not make you.

2. Only thinking about yourself. 
Yes, you will gain attention and resources from winning the pageant...but what will the pageant gain from choosing you? So many contestants focus on how winning the pageant will help them, but few consider how they can help the pageant. Remember, you are interviewing for a job. The judges are choosing you to represent the pageant for a one-year term in this job position. What do YOU bring to the table? How will YOU benefit the organization? Stop thinking about "the pageant will help me do this and that" and instead, think about recruitment of contestants, attracting sponsors, building a social and traditional media presence, etc.

3. Negative talk.
Saying something is "obvious" or "like I just said" is rude. Making the judge feel like they missed something is rude. OR even worse...some contestants say "that's a great question"...were the other questions not great? Were they not up to your level? How about "this may sound silly" or "this may sound cliche"? Stop putting negative talk into your interview! Focus on being the positive person that they want to hire for the year. Also, please refrain from speaking negatively about other pageant systems. All you are doing is drawing attention to your negative mindset. 

4. Forgetting to think about the next step.
What is next for your platform? How will it grow? How will you take it from local to a state or national level? Where will you get the funds? How will you gain publicity? Etc etc. Some contestants focus on the here and now TOO much. Instead, give some thought! This also goes for "problems". If you are saying something is a problem, assume they are also asking you what the solution might be. For example, "Given the gun violence that is plaguing our nation, do you feel safe in school?" To just say yes or no is juvenile and boring. Instead, complete the thought with automatically telling the judge WHY you feel this way. Bonus points if you can continue the statement and make suggestions for how schools can increase safety...and yes, you want those bonus points. Stop being small minded and think about the next step...without being told to do so. 

If you are ready to improve your interview, download our FREE "5 Ways to Improve Your Interview" workbook here: