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Friday, December 1, 2017

What is a pageant non-compete clause?

A non-compete clause in the pageant world means that you agree to NOT compete elsewhere (in another pageant) until your year as the titleholder is complete.

Many pageants previously had strict non-compete clauses at the state level, but now, many have waived those at the state level and only keep them at the national level.

These clauses are meant to help the pageant. More specifically, if you have agreed to represent a particular pageant for one year, that means that you should be dedicated to doing appearances for them, marketing them on social media, attending events with government officials and people of importance etc...solely for the one pageant. The clause is meant to help girls not have to represent multiple programs/values/crowns/sashes at one time.

Some get grumpy about non-compete clauses because it prevents them from competing for one year. The way I see it: if you so badly wanted the "job" of being the titleholder, you should want to hold that job for the year and only that job. If not, don't compete there.

Worth noting is that some pageants still have these clauses at the state level, but they can be waived with permission of the director. Always inquire about a pageant's competition clause BEFORE agreeing to compete.


  • Ask before competing
  • Read everything you sign
  • Be very clear on the expectations and responsibilities of being a titleholder

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

5 Things You Must Know ABOUT Your Pageant BEFORE Competing

Competing for a pageant is much like interviewing for a job. So, it is very important to understand certain things about the pageant before agreeing to interview for it. Just like you would research a company before a job interview to learn about it, you should research things about your pageant before competing.

When preparing for interview, most contestants just review common questions...BUT the contestants who take it a step further and truly understand the pageant organization will always be one step ahead.

Here are "5 Things You Must Know About Your Pageant BEFORE Competing":

  • Basic facts: 
    • For example, the full name of the pageant, the motto/slogan of the pageant, the main competition categories, how you fit in this pageant, who the director is, what the prize package AND responsibilities are for winning
  • What they want: your main goal is to convince the judges that you are the best candidate for the job of "titleholder" so you have to understand what they want in a titleholder first to be able to adequately tell them why you are perfect for the job
    • Some pageants send a handbook/notebook/website section detailing particular qualities they are looking for - note those and KNOW how you fit them (and be able to communicate that)
    • Research and understand what former titleholders have done and be explain how you can expand on it
  • The culture: what drives this pageant
    • Research the mission statement and values and be able to articulate how you fit these
    • Take a peek at the rules (they exist for a reason)
      • For example, if there is a "no makeup under 12 rule" it is probably because they value girls being you now know that a low cut gown or super long train on a little one is NOT the best idea
    • Note: the culture is what SELLS a pageant. For example, if talent is highly valued at one pageant and not at another, you can choose to compete or not. To not understand the culture is silly.
  • Recent news:
    • Maybe the pageant changed the age groups, or expanded into a new state, or is currently moving their national MUST know what is going on if you plan to represent the program
    • Note: you can often find such details on social media and on the pageant website
  • Competitors
    • What makes this pageant different than others? Well, why did YOU choose it?
    • Example: many judges have asked Miss America (MAO) contestants how MAO differs from should know this if you are competing in one of these programs
    • To understand the competition is to understand the pageant; you must come into the interview with a solid working knowledge of the pageant you are competing else can you expect to represent it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How To WIN The Photogenic Competition

A number of pageants today have a "most photogenic" competition. This is where judges will choose from a number of photos who happens to look best in photos. This can be determined by a number of factors...I hope that by sharing these factors with you today, you will be much more likely to WIN your next photogenic competition!

NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book:

1. The photo matches what the director is looking for
Well-prepared pageants will instruct their judges on what they are looking for in a contestant and in their photos. For example, if the pageant/director is looking for someone who is "glamorous" and "model-like", a judge is more likely to look for a photo that isn't exactly natural, has a glam factor in wardrobe and jewelry, and tends to give more of a model look vs a "girl next door" vibe.

Tip: take a moment to review your pageant guidelines to see what the pageant is looking for to determine which type of photo you should submit (sometimes your pageant paperwork will explain this clearly; for example, the USA Ambassador pageant has two categories and describes them clearly in their paperwork - they divide the competitions as "glamour photogenic" and "natural photogenic"). When in doubt, politely inquire with your director.

Example: This photo of Sanjana helped her secure the WIN for her photogenic category because it was happy, age appropriate, had a great color for her skin tone, and was fun and different than other girls in her group. It was also appropriately edited and not overdone for her age.

2. The photo makes the judge feel something positive
Does the photo make someone smile or frown? Is the photo so sexy that it would make a judge uncomfortable or does it look so happy that the judge will smile in response?

Tip: Again, take a peek at your photo requirements and adhere to them.

Example: This smile and direct eye contact in this photo connect with the judges easily. The top is not super low, the jewelry is appropriate, and the look on our coach's face is genuinely happy and appealing...a judge would sure smile back at this photo!

3. The photo has the girl as the main focus
Do not have tons of white/extra space in the photo...zoom in and have the girl as the main focus. Also eliminate extra things like trees, other people, distracting colors/prints/patterns etc. Do not lose points because you have extra stuff distracting the judge; the judge is scoring the girl in the photo, not the extras.

Tip: Judges should not be distracted by other things in the photo. Distractions tend to lead to lower scores because the judge is not focused on you.

Example: Note how Mya's photo does not have a lot of white/background space! This photo is cropped well/close to her face to feature and highlight HER!

4. The photo is styled well as a whole
Yes, colors, fit of clothing, style, etc ALL matter in the photo.

  • If your top is see through, a judge will be distracted by the problems in the photo vs the positives. 
  • If you are wearing black and take a photo against a black background, you will fade in VS stand out in the photo. 
  • If you have a ton of fly away hairs VS combed, sprayed, and polished hair, a judge will be distracted by the crazy hair vs your polished, clean look. 
  • Also, consider things like lighting and having a professional photo vs one in a selfie format.
  • Some things you do not need: crowns, sashes, purses, long white gloves, tons of background (crop the photo instead), excessive bracelets etc

Tip: Take the time to style your photo well. If possible, take a peek at previous winners and note how polished or well styled the photo is. It is very likely that it is a photo that is done by a professional photographer and has a complete look where the girl is the main feature.

Example: Harper's photo added a little bit of personal style and spunk by adding this flower headband. Also, this photo WON her photogenic category for her because of the color coordination and happy/genuine smile on her face!

Overall, judges are looking for a winner who looks great in photos, who is the main focus of the picture, and meets the requirements of the pageant. Many photos can have these may come down to personal opinions on colors, head tilts, clothing choices etc. Be sure to choose what you look best in and feel best in so that is reflected in the picture and helps you secure the win!

NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete, 9-page Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Things To Know BEFORE Getting Alterations

Ever wonder how some girls seem to have a suit or dress that fits perfectly? If it wasn't made custom for her, how does her clothing fit so well? The secret: she has a great seamstress!

A (good) seamstress can do a variety of projects for you, from hemming your skirt, to altering your straps, to add a snap or hook and eye to ensure a closer fit.

But here's a few things you should know before visiting a seamstress:

- Cost

Not all seamstresses are budget friendly...and depending on the level of experience they have, the turn around time you are giving them, and the level of work required for your outfit, you are looking at anywhere from 10%-40% of the item's original cost as your alteration cost. 

WISE: ASK about the cost BEFORE handing the item over for alterations. You do not want to be surprised when you pick it up.

- Undergarments
Yes, the undergarments matter. A different bra could lift you in a way that another would not, affecting your hem line etc. 

WISE: wear the exact undergarments that you will wear with the outfit to every fitting to ensure proper fit etc.

- Hair and makeup
If you will be snazzy on the day you finally wear the outfit out, get your hair and makeup as close to that look as possible for every fitting. How you 'feel' in the items will indirectly affect your alterations...your posture may slump if you don't feel great, for example.

WISE: do your hair and makeup for every fitting so you get an accurate picture of what you'll look like when it is showtime.

- Multiple fittings
Do not expect to do one fitting and have your outfit be perfect. There will always be another detail that pops up; it never fails. Even a bride gets multiple fittings!

WISE: plan ahead for multiple fittings to ensure the best fit. Try on the outfit every time you visit and make adjustments as necessary. Start your alterations at least 6 weeks out to ensure time for multiple fittings.

- Shoes ON!
You MUST wear the exact shoes you'll wear on show day. There is no alternative. Even the slightest change in platform or straps will affect how you stand etc so you'll directly affect your hemline etc.

WISE: pack your shoes and stand as you would on stage. Also, if the stage is carpet vs floor, yes, the hemline will be affected - inquire with your pageant director ahead of time for clarification on stage type. And yes, carpet vs floor will affect how the dress walks as well.

- Communication is key
This is obvious, but your seamstress cannot read your mind. Be clear about your expectations, questions, concerns etc.

WISE: before arriving, take the time to jot down your thoughts on what you'd like done to each item so when asked, you can be clear about each detail.

- Attitude
You may be at your seamstress for an hour or so...don't bring your attitude with you. Ensure a great fitting with a great attitude.

- You will survive a mishap
A complete freak out if something goes wrong is not necessary. Yes, you'll be upset but mistakes happen. Breathe, take a moment to think, and inquire about what CAN be done.

WISE: freaking out helps no one. Focus on the objective...and again, schedule fittings WAY in advance of your wear date to avoid complications. 

- Turn around time
Do not expect an overnight turnaround. Be realistic with your expectations, be prepared to attend multiple fittings, and know that you are allowed to ask how long it'll take to complete.

WISE: you are not going home with your item same or next day, most likely.

- Cleaners are not seamstresses
Well, not necessarily. Your cleaner may clean a stain and fix a button, but do not expect them to adjust an entire hemline, re-bead an entire dress etc. 

WISE: find an actual seamstress through your local gown shop or fabric store recommendations.

- The job is harder than it looks
Saying 'I could do it myself....' is rude and uncalled for. And it is very likely that the job is much more difficult than it seems to you, the non-professional. 

- You are not the only client 
This goes back to your turn around time etc. You are NOT the only client so expecting a super quick turn around or massive adjustments etc just brings drama. You should never expect a professional to put another client on the back burner for you.

- You don't need 100 people at a fitting
Again, obvious, just take who you need. You don't need a whole party with you. Plus, more cooks in the kitchen will just stress you out.

- Come having eaten and have water/sugar with you, it may take awhile
I have seen way too many girls pass out during a fitting. These things take time so have water with you and snacks (use these before or after you put the actual item on to avoid mishaps with water falling on your clothes etc)

- Seamstresses are not magicians.
Be realistic with your expectations. And know that if your seamstress doesn't have experience with beads, rhinestones, or very formal attire, you are risking your outfit!

WISE: again, be clear (and polite) about what you would like done and perhaps right it out so your seamstress can be clear about what is or is not possible for you. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

8 Ways To Reduce Pre-Pageant Stress

Pageant weekend is TOUGH for anyone, but there are a few ways to reduce your stress in the weeks leading up to competition. In fact, here's our TOP 8 Ways to Reduce Pre-Pageant Stress:

1. Read your handbook then make a list of what you will be doing and what you will need
  • Most pageants provide a handbook detailed what competitions you will have, how much tickets are, etc.
  • Make a list of items you will need, including cash on pageant weekend, as soon as you get your handbook so you have a clear picture of what needs to be purchased or done.
  • Inquire directly with your Pageant Director regarding any questions you may have
2. View videos online or ask the director if you could purchase or borrow a DVD from last year 
  • Some videos may also be available online via Youtube
  • While the walking patterns may change every year, you will get to see gown styles, fashion styles etc
3. Pack Early!
  • Create a packing list for travel and for the pageant 
  • Start packing at least two weeks earlier than the pageant weekend so you do not have the last minute stress of shopping
4. Dress rehearsals are helpful!
  • For example, practice walking in your gown, in your gown shoes, with your gown jewelry on! Practice full out too: do the smile, hold the posture etc. The more you practice full out, the more likely you will be able to do it confidently under pressure on stage.
  • Label each outfit, makeup item, etc with your name and then crosscheck it with your packing list as you put it in the suitcase
  • Put your individual outfits in individual garment bags! Then label the bags with what the outfit is for. You could also get some favor bags/organza bags for your jewelry, then attach the jewelry bag to the hanger inside the garment bag (matching the jewelry with the outfit to help reduce stress at the pageant).
5. Practice often!
  • Set aside time EVERY day to work on your pageant competitions. At least 30 minutes each day can be exceptionally helpful...and start practicing at least two months from the pageant weekend date.
  • Practice when you will be performing as well. If you have talent competition at night, practicing in the morning will not be as helpful...your voice does not sound the same in the morning as it does at night.
6. Find a good pageant coach.
  • Find someone to advise you who has won before and has a record of helping his/her clients win at this system.
  • Different coaches are good at different things. Find one who will benefit you and spend at least two months working on perfecting your presentation.
  • This also includes dance coaches, vocal coaches etc, not just a pageant coach. Coaching helps you be at your personal best!
7. Record yourself doing everything and go back to review the video.
  • If you really look, you will notice where you could smile bigger OR hold your posture better etc
  • If you could provide your coach with these videos as well, even better! The more feedback, the better!
  • Review our FREE download, "50 Things Pageant Judges Wish You Knew" (download it and take a peek, you'll be happy you did!):
8. Review your pageant schedule in advance.
  • Go through your schedule and highlight every event you must attend.
  • Note when you have breaks: you need to know when you can eat, when you can rest, when you can change clothes etc.
  • You may need to bring snacks or drinks to the hotel for in between events; just be sure to pack the mints!
  • Many hotels have room service OR maybe your mom can bring you something local to eat during a brief break...plan ahead and let your team/mom/coach etc know the plan so you do not run around hungry/stressed/tired/thirsty etc!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Leave Your Mark in the Interview Room

I recently finished the book "Leave Your Mark" by Aliza Licht and I loved it! In the book, Aliza talks about job interviewing, so I thought I would share some of her tips here with a paraphrased form and tailored to pageant interviews. Enjoy!

1. Do you sound cocky or confident?
Cocky: "I'm the best person on my team."
Confident: "I've been fortunate to have been able to lead a team on several projects this year."
Cocky: "I can do everything well."
Confident: "I am an experienced multitasker who works well under pressure."

Do you see the difference? Cocky is not likable, but confident can be! A smart person will admire someone who is politely confident, but it is highly unlikely that anyone will like someone who is cocky. So in your next interview, feel free to promote your skills and positive attributes without making the judges want to get your interview over with. People generally want cocky people to fail; just remember that.

2. Are you a good communicator of your strengths?
You might be great at certain core competencies, but if you cannot communicate examples of how you use those skills well, it will just end up sounding like a lot of noise. Be prepared with 3-5 examples where you can show, not just tell, how well you know your stuff.

While you are at it, take a second to download "50 Things The Judges Wish You Knew" is a FREE e-book I made to help you prepare to communicate the BEST you in all phases of competition:

3. Show that you know the pageant system.
Demonstrate that you know what the pageant system has been doing and that you have been following the brand. And please, know which system you are interviewing for! For example, what you say about International Junior Miss is not what you would say about Miss American Coed; they are two very different systems. When in doubt, check out the personal web pages and social media for your pageant system; those items should be clear tellers of what your program values and finds important.

4. Eye contact is key.
When you are having a conversation with a friend, you look them in the eye. Not to the point where it is creepy, but you hold eye contact with your friend while chatting. If you are in a group, you likely bounce your eyes from one person to another, so no one feels left out. The same holds true in your pageant interview. If you are in a panel interview, every judge is in the conversation, so do not ignore them.

5. Facial and vocal expression are the other keys.
No one wants to speak to someone who looks or sounds like a bored zombie. So please, use your face and voice to express your personality and emotions. Stop with the zombie face already!

6. Know your content.
You do not have to know everything, but you should know a little bit about a lot of things. The most common topic, believe it or not, is YOU. Your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, personality, accomplishments and more. Also, your resume may have to be condensed for the judge into one or two pages, but you have so many more accomplishments and things to say. Practice weaving these ideas into your answers; I highly doubt your whole life can be summed up in 1 page, so be prepared to say the items you may have left out.

If you are ready to get organized for the interview and improve overall, download your FREE ebook to get started right away:

Interviewing can be difficult...if you are not prepared. If you are interested in developing your interview skills, set up a FREE chat with me via Skype or Facetime to discuss some possibilities! You won't regret it! Just go to and click on "Book A Session" in the top right corner of the page.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

5 Ways to Win Your Next Title

When you win a title that has multiple levels, you should be excited about what is coming next! So, I want you to start thinking about the 'next title up' as a 'job promotion'. So if you are a local titleholder, start thinking about your state title as the 'job promotion'. If you are a state titleholder, think of the national title as a 'job promotion'.

Reality Check: you do not get a promotion for doing your job. You get a promotion for going above and beyond your job. Do NOT feel entitled to win your national pageant; there are likely a number of other girls who also feel like they should win the national title as well.

In order to get the promotion of your dreams (i.e. the national titleholder job), you need to do a few things:

1. Take on additional responsibilities.
Do not just get your state title and do nothing with it. Make appearances, speak with government officials, make an impact. If you are not doing these things on a state/local/regional level, how will you do it as a national titleholder. Answer: you won't.

Speak about what you have done in the interview room; show the judges that you can do the job of being a national titleholder AND provide solid examples of what you have done already that makes you qualified for this job.

2. Act one level above the job you already have.
I am NOT saying to run around acting cocky. I am saying to carry yourself like the 'next level up'. Dress the part (all the time), act the part (all the time) etc. If you do not carry yourself like a national titleholder, your judges will not be able to envision you as the national titleholder. Carry yourself like a winner so others can start seeing you that way!

This includes everything from manners, to social media, to attire, etc.

3. Consider what REALLY comes next.
Many girls just want to win the next title up, but they do not consider the realities of the job ahead. Focus a part of your interview on what you can do for the pageant, not just what the crown will do for you (or how you will "use" it). By attaching the idea of your job promotion to the success of the organization, your judges will be much more likely to see you as the winner they want.

Reality check: the 'promotion' is NOT just about you.

4. Look the part.
You have seen your pageant marketing material...if you do not look the part of the 'next level up', then you may have some work to do! Coming to the pageant in sweats or having your nails in a bright, distracting color is likely not the best impression. Your look needs to scream "promote me" vs "I could care less" or "I do not pay attention to details".

5. Are you a confident speaker or presenter?
Ok, everyone says yes to this, but seriously: are you? If not, it is time to practice! If you are uncomfortable speaking with adults, how will you attract new sponsors to your pageant? If you are uncomfortable with speaking about your platform, how will you speak about the pageant?

Stop wasting time and start practicing! Put a few topics on index cards, fold the cards, and pull them out of a box. Challenge yourself to speak with confidence about these topics for at least 1 minute without fillers, fidgeting, or poor body language. Double challenge: record yourself and go back and watch it to learn from it!

If you are READY to prepare for the NEXT level, download your FREE Daily Pageant Prep Calendar here:   (it really is FREE!!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Things To Know Before Breaking Into Acting/Modeling from Pageants

Pageants can be great for helping girls break into the world of modeling and acting, but there are some things you should BEFORE jumping into the industry:

1. You should not have to pay an agent any upfront money to represent you. Agents will get paid 10-20% of your check when you are booked on jobs. Agents get paid when you get paid; don't get sucked into paying anything upfront.

2. A model book is like an album and each page should have different photos. One could be a headshot, one could be you as a doctor in a full body shot, the next could be a 3/4 shot. The more different the photos, the more diversity you can show the booking agent. And please, don't use one photographer for all of the photos; again, agents like to see variety. Take your time to develop your book.

3. You will need training. People don't just become major actors or models overnight. Or think of it this way: you'll be much closer to a 'yes' with training than you would be without. Find a local reputable school OR program. You can even get experience in your local community theatre or take classes at your local community college. An experienced and trained professional is always more likely to get the job than a novice...just like if you were getting any other job.

4. Aim for non-exclusive contracts. Exclusivity will lock you into one agent; why would you want to be locked in to depending on ONE person when you are just getting started? More agents = more opportunities! And no, you don't need a professional manager until you have so much work coming in that you cannot balance it yourself (or mom/dad). Each person you hire (an agent, a manager etc) means more money coming out of your checks!

5. Check local casting agencies and websites for possible jobs. Start at Project Casting to get a good idea or your local film office! Note: just like there are reputable and non-reputable pageants, there are reputable and non-reputable companies to work with. Don't necessarily jump on the first thing you see on Craigslist! Check out each company BEFORE accepting a job.

I was in the modeling and acting world for over a decade before becoming a Director of Education at a leading modeling and acting school for 5 years; if you have any questions, just ask!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

5 Ways To Be An Amazing Titleholder

Let's say you win your do you become an amazing titleholder? What makes a girl more memorable as a titleholder than another? What could you plan to do with your year (or say in your interview) that will make you stand out?

Here's FIVE ideas:

1. Be active: Don't just get crowned and do nothing with the crown. The crown is an opportunity, a microphone, a platform; use it wisely. Volunteer in your community, engage with people, and aim to make a difference.
2. Journal: track every mile you travel, important people you meet etc. In fact, write down the details of what you did at each appearance, so when you are asked about your year or need content for your next interview, you don't have to struggle for already created it.
3. Be a role model: don't just be a role model when your crown and sash are on, but instead, strive to be a role model in everything you do. Engage with people, smile, make connections, be positive...especially in the world of social media - one bad thing will follow you forever.
4. Work with your director: you were crowned because the judges thought you'd be a great ambassador for that particular program...well, that program belongs to a specific director. Be respectful of their wishes and policies, communicate often, and really try your best to help build the program for the next year. They should want you to never leave vs want to get the new girl in as quickly as possible.
5. Recruit: every girl you meet is a potential contestant. Every mom you meet is a potential pageant mom. Know your marketing verbiage and do your job.