The talent portion of Miss America is what makes this system unique. Not only talent prevalent in the judging criteria, but is the highest scored category; truly setting it apart from other beauty pageants. Typically, when we think of the talent competition we think of two talents: dancing and singing. Dancing might be split into jazz, ballet, and lyrical, and vocal may or may not include an instrument. Maybe the contestant will just play an instrument.
But after we think of those two main talents, our mind drifts to theater performances: monologues. There are many different types of monologues, such dramatic monologues, musical theater monologues, and comedic monologues. Slam poetry, a form of spoken word, is also making an appearance in the local talent scent. Although I never considered performing a monologue while I competed, I can respect those who are truly able to fall into character and take the audience into a new world through their words and actions. It is a true talent to be able to transport the audience into a scene.
If I had a chance to perform a monologue, I would choose one of the following three pieces. They are all 90 second cuts of various plays and movies that carry a strong theme of female empowerment, albeit in very different ways, and give the speaker an opportunity to truly delve into the character and shine.
When Olivia registered for the 49th annual Miss Thousand Islands pageant the Clayton Opera House, she was expecting to make great friends, rock the stage with her vocal performance, and go home feeling overjoyed with excitement, ready to participate again. Somewhere in the back of her mind, of course she wanted to win; she knew that the Miss America Organization’s emphasis on service was the perfect outlet to make a difference. But as a recent high school graduate who had never competed before, imagine the surprise when she heard her name called, was crowned by Nina Davuluri (who would later go on to become Miss America), and she took her first walk as Miss Thousand Islands 2014.
Shortly after being crowned, Olivia jumped right into serving the Thousand Islands region. Even though she attends university up in Canada, she has attended nearly every preliminary pageant to see which future queens she would be competing with at the state pageant. Each year A Touch of Grace in Watertown sponsors a fashion show to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. Olivia not only hosted this event, but performed as well. While north of the border, Olivia promotes her platform, Unedited Beauty, through photo collages, banners, and inspirational posts the Facebook Page. Continue reading
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the annual charity drag show at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. It’s hosted by the Rensselaer Pride Association, but the proceeds benefit a local charity.
This year the admission went to benefit the Damien Center in Albany. This wonderful community center is for individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families. Unfortunately, the center recently had a fire on their premise, and the donations are necessary now more than ever.
In 2010, Courtney Sheridan was 1/3 of the first time in Miss America history that three sisters competed against each other in a State pageant. She was Miss Empire Rose 2010, after having competed the prior as Miss Fulton County 2009. Two years later she took the stage a 3rd time as Miss Mohawk Valley 2012. Well, ladies and gentlemen, Courtney has done it again. This past summer she was crowned the very first Miss Central New York and will represent the core of the Empire State at Miss New York.
While at the reception following the Crown City Sweeper Pageant, I was invited out to attend the 44th annual Maple Festival help in Marathon, NY. I am very excited, as it came at a bitter sweet moment in my life. The Miss NY class of 2014 is now complete, and I did not win a title. I will not be competing at Miss New York this year, or ever, as it was my last year of eligibility. I am now a Pageant Godmom. The invitation to speak at the festival affirms that I do not need to win a title to make a difference in the community. I am a public speaker, advocate, and community servant, and I don’t need a crown or sash to do any of this.
Looking back at competing in local Miss America preliminary pageants, I began to realize that I had often been standing next to the girl who won, as her name was called and she stepped forward to receive her crown and sash. Two specific incidences stood out to me: Finger Lakes 2013 and the Crown City Sweeper in 2014.
While standing on stage at Miss Finger Lakes 2014, Desiree took my hand and whispered, “Hold my hand, you lucky charm.” This was because she was standing next to me the year before when she was crowned Miss Empire Rose 2012. She ended up winning Miss Finger Lakes 2013.
At the Crown City Sweeper, I turned to Claudette just after Jillian and Jamie were called and said, “I’m standing next to the winner. You’re next.” She actually argued for a few moments, telling me her interview and talent did not go well. Bull. She was crowned Miss Heart of New York 2014.
I decided to go back and take a deeper look and go back and count every instance where I stood next to the winner.
Two years ago, Sarah Hreyo had the once in a lifetime opportunity to serve as Miss Westchester, and represent her community in the Miss New York USA pageant. Bitten by the pageant bug, and looking for the ability to further promote her platform and connect with people and organizations while earning scholarship money as a titleholder, she began competing in Miss America locals at the beginning of this year. Placing consistently throughout the year but not going home with a crown, Sarah decided to compete in her last pageant, the Empire Triple Crown, without the stress from trying to win. Low and behold, despite only being eligible for one of the three titles, she is now representing her community again, this year at the Miss New York stage.