- Photo: Miss America Organization
I look forward to the Miss America Pageant every year. Many people who know me are already aware of this. It’s much like the Super Bowl to me. In fact, my Miss America Watch Parties often incorporate a little of the football theme. Food. Beverages. Cheering. Draft Picks.
Trying to choose who will be the next Miss America is fun for me…and including my friends in the fun makes it more exciting. So how do I pick? I do a small amount of research. Small. Of course I follow Miss America on social media and keep up with the different activities they have throughout the week. Looking through the albums from their dinners, shopping experiences, photo shoots, rehearsals, and preliminaries…I browse through and see who stands out. Is there someone who has that Miss America glow? Who looks like they are having the most fun, relaxed, poised, relatable? From there, I make a list of my “ones to watch” and I may see if I can find their talent video on line from a previous pageant…and watch their quick People’s Choice video on the Miss America website.
This year my stand outs were:
- Miss Mississippi- In my first glance of photos of their DC visit and Atlantic City arrival, she REALLY stood out to me. Later I learned that she had been on American Idol which is a cool tidbit.
- Miss Kansas-I really liked her haircut!
- Miss New York- She was at the top of my list of who had that “Miss America Glow.” There was something in her that made me want to learn more about her. I later learned that she performed a vocal routine with a cup. (Everyone says it’s a red solo cup, but from all the images I have seen, it’s a taller cup and appears to be a thicker hard plastic. A solo cup would crack easily and not make the right sounds she may have been looking for with her routine.) I thought that was a different talent. Reminded me of the “back in the day” Miss America competitions when there was horseback riding, hoola-hooping and ballet rollerskating. I learned that she is very passionate about her platform, held many educational events and fundraisers, worked with a prison outreach group, police departments. As you can see, just by seeing her in a few photos, I wanted to learn more about her.
- Miss Ohio-on my list after she won a Preliminary Talent Award for her Ventriloquism act. It’s not an easy talent.
- Miss Oklahoma-She’s always on my list, no matter what. After attending Miss Oklahoma pageants and seeing how they compete, then seeing their progress at Miss America…they have a great team of people who help prepare their titleholder. More than likely a Miss Oklahoma will win a Swimsuit Preliminary (which this year she did!). She wasn’t always a standout in the crowd, however you could see her poise and know that her students really love her! Her tag was “Crown the Teacher.”
- Miss Texas-again, always on my list. I am a Texan and I support my state! This year Miss Texas was a strong contender for the title.
- Rounding out my initial “ones to watch list” was Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, and Idaho.
After watching the “Countdown to the Crown” I updated my list; then again after parade of states. Those who play along with me selected their Top 20. We have until the end of the commercial break after Parade of States to make the selection. I go with 20 because you never know if there will be a “surprise” or a change.
My final 20 were: Arkansas, DC, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.
This year the People’s Choice was announced first for the Top 15. This was selected by the public. Contestants made their own short videos about why they should be Miss America. And then people could vote. Miss Idaho was selected as People’s Choice. After naming the 15th semi-finalist, of course the show added a quick surprise and drama and told the judges to select one contestant to add to the semi-finalists who may have been overlooked and they wanted to see again on stage. They chose Miss North Dakota.
Out of the Top 16, I had 11 on my list of 20. Moving into the Top 12, 9 of my original picks were still in the competition. This is when I started thinking that Massachusetts must have had a great interview. I didn’t know much about her. She was under my radar! She was the only one going into the Top 10 not on my original list. I began to think that she was going to be the next Miss America! Throughout the competition I could see that Mississippi, New York, and Oklahoma were strong contenders. I was impressed with talent this year as a whole. As it has been said, Miss America Class of 2015 was a very strong competitive year. With the final 5 announced, 4 of them were my original picks! Of course I was still in love with New York and Mississippi. But I was thrown for a loop with the judges and how some who were outstanding were left behind. It’s a hard job narrowing it down when you have so many excellent candidates for only one position. After the last on stage question, it was hard for me to place the Top 5. I was really thrown for a loop, especially when Mississippi didn’t make the final 5.
Knowing that competing at Local Competitions and State to get to Miss America…Interview is really the most important. In all the levels of competition (local, state, Miss America), Interview is the first chance the judges have to see and hear from you in person. They have read bios, information and seen pictures of the contestants in the judges notebook. They have in their mind what they are looking for in a Miss America and of course make their list of questions they want to ask to find out who that young woman will be. THIS IS A JOB INTERVIEW!!! Miss America is a concentrated job for a year. After her year, many times Miss America continues speaking and working on her platform and making a difference. Once named a Miss America, you are Forever Miss America.
Talent also has a high percentage, then fitness and evening gown/on stage question. Those with great interviews and judge(s) very interested in them for the job of Miss America, will more than likely score higher in other areas because they will be wanting their pick(s) to move forward in the competition. Well rounded candidates will pull through to the top as well. All the public has the opportunity to see is what is shown on tv and in social media. Remember, Miss America is a job interview…not a talent show, fitness competition or runway show. Miss America is a spokeswoman for style, service, scholarship and success. She should represent the American Dream, the American Woman of Today, the Girl Next Door…a role model for our girls and young women.
So in the end, Miss New York, 23 year old Kira Kazantsev, was announced as Miss America 2015! Of course I was really excited about this. Throughout the day I have seen numerous posts that have not been very nice. They are speaking poorly of a young, educated, talented, and caring young woman they don’t even know.
Here’s a few things about Miss America Kira Kazantsev I would like to share with you:
She’s the daughter of Russian Immigrants. Her parents moved to Manhattan, New York just before Kira was born. Coming to the States with nothing but each other, they did everything they could as a family to make ends meet. Kira, a first generation American, has lived in many different places across the country including San Antonio! That’s right…she is part Texan! She attended grade school here in the Alamo City. She is a graduate of Hofstra University Honors College where she triple majored in Political Science, Global Studies and Geography. During her college years, she was involved in an abusive relationship. Her personal experience has given her the drive and passion to serve as an ambassador for Domestic Violence Awareness. This platform has been at the forefront of her journey as Miss New York. Kira, along with many other titleholders across the nation, has also been very involved with Miss America’s philanthropy Children’s Miracle Network. Her goal is to become a lawyer…and help make a difference. With her $50,000 Miss America Scholarship she won, she will be able to make that dream a reality.
No, she did not play a red solo cup for her talent. She sang “Happy” and the cup routine was part of it. Was she the best singer of the Top 10? Maybe not. Was she entertaining? Yes! Did she look comfortable on stage throughout the final competition? Yes! Was she having the time of her life? Yes! Is she fulfilling a dream? Absolutely! Personally, I think that her talent was unique and showed that you don’t have to be professionally trained in anything to do well at Miss America.
Obviously the judges saw something in her that they wanted America to see. Now from what I have said, don’t for one second think that I am saying no one else deserved to win. Every single one of the 53 candidates put in much time and effort to prepare for Miss America. There is only one crown each year.
Is it crazy that she is the 3rd Miss New York in a row to win the title of Miss America? Yea it’s crazy! Before Miss America 2013, there had not been another Miss New York named Miss America since Vanessa Williams in 1984. The Miss New York team must have some excellent directors and supporters of their local titleholders and Miss New York to help them prepare for the next level of competition. I wonder what those who are competing this next year for Miss New York are thinking???
Just remember, it’s not a swimsuit competition or a talent show. This is an extensive job interview for a young woman who is relatable, educated, has poise, can think on her toes, has a plan of action, goals, and determination. She will always represent style, service, scholarship, and success.
Click here to Meet Kira in 50 seconds.