This is something I am passionate about, no not the pageant part of it, but the girls, their passion for their community, their bravery on stage and off, and their immense amount of grace. Let me back up, I got into this gig for advertising but I stayed for thousands of other reasons beyond hair and in fact I don’t even handle that part of this adventure anymore. When I joined this board I got way more than I bargained for and some fantastic friends to do life with, friends that would send postpartum gear to the hospital and bring food when I had my kids, have some hard authentic talks about the hand life had dealt, and laugh with.. really really laugh with.
So with all that I am the Miss Southeast Oklahoma Outstanding Teen director, we give away 28,000 dollars in scholarship money and are a preliminary for Miss Oklahoma through the Miss America Organization (which gives 45 million dollars in scholarships). I work with Tascha who is the Miss Director and Executive Director and in many ways we feel like the relationship I see develop between a Miss and Teen, mentorship, friendship, a shared passion for pretty much everything, and we think we are hilarious…but really we are. Our job is to develop platforms, get them serving in their communities, mentoring in schools, on the path to a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally, to foster their talents and truly love and support these girls all the way to the stage and beyond!
So here is my real story, I saw bravery in a girl I had never seen before, a determination I know for a fact I do not possess, and this post is about her story. I truly see every part of this event so most often after interviews as we pack up I tell the stories of these girls to our board, when I say stories I usually mean their platform, but they are so deeply routed in these platforms, they are for abuse because they have been, immigration because it directly effects them, foster care, law enforcement and so many more, they tell their stories in order to help others and its incredible. If you want to compete with us we will do absolutely anything to make that happen for you, this year that included rounding up lots of dresses in an unusual size on short notice, now mind you it was not the size of the dress that was the problem we had plenty in her size, it was the length and size combined. This is a story about Maria. Maria, soft spoken, reserved, and private came out of her shell and blew me straight out of the water, she came into the room for interview obviously a different body type than we normally see but she did not notice and if she did I did not see it. Her story, immigration, you see her father is from Mexico along with a lot of her family and recent issues over immigration have caused some major changes in her life, this is real life. She has two cousins who were students at OU midway through a degree who can no longer attend because they are illegal, she is struggling to better her life, to educate herself, to dream big and that requires scholarship money and hard work, this girl made me so so proud this weekend I wanted to stand and cheer for her.
Pageant day, we start with opening number , they have 30 minutes to learn it, then we run through talent, swim suit and active wear, crowning and evening gown , they get dressed and its go time, that is literally what happens and it is hard to get it all in, but literally we do not see the girls in full gear until the pageant (run through’s only require the footwear you will be wearing for that portion) We have a new board member this year, Kamwin and she taught me lots Sunday including how to do an 8 count… and a choreographed number, she choreographed an opening number in 10 minutes…mind blown, and then she used me to make sure it would time out right and then we taught it to 16 girls…..in 30 minutes, this is hard !! They do it in high heels too…you know we like to add to the difficulty of learning to dance/walk and smile at the judges. So then talent run throughs start, I do the script so my job is to take what they have told me on their talent forms about their needs and put that into action, so before that girl comes on stage Will knows if she needs a hand held or body mic, if she is playing an instrument, if the lighting needs to change for a baton act and so much more. They have 90 seconds …thats it, so talent one Vibraphone (yes we all learned about it this year) talent 2 Maria….music cues and she begins to sing Stand by me, two lines in I think this music is wrong, wait has she forgotten the words….no she is singing in Spanish and it is beautiful and again she makes me stop and say to myself WOW. I watched this girl learn to walk the stage in heels and she was awesome, but the moment that truly blew me out of the water was yet to come. Only a few of us see the show, Leandra, Stephanie and I make that list, everyone else is in dressing rooms helping or back stage, but I Stephanie and I corral judges and Leandra is in the sound booth so we see it from the front and boy does it roll fast, the judges prob have less than 30 seconds per girl to evaluate everything outside of talent, so Emcee is rocky but opening number is flawless, then teen active wear also flawless, swimsuit… I have seen many things go wrong here, swim wear requires butt glue, yea you heard me glue it to your butt… so that as you walk down the stage or back for that matter in a pair of high heels your swimsuit doesn’t take a walk too leaving the crowd with a good view, I will just say I would never have the guts to do this NEVER I am inherently ungraceful (why dad called me grace my whole life) and I walk like a clydesdale, honest Tascha uses me as an example of how not to walk…so the way I walk along with my body would make every ounce of flappy fleshy I have bounce all over the place but not these girls…. grace and poise. I guess now is as good time as any to enter these little known facts about Maria which for me made her bravery insurmountable , she is 5 feet tall and wears a size 16, and can I just say she came out in that swimsuit so confident I wanted to stand up and hoot and hollar, in fact it was the biggest applause heard all night . She did what most of us would not dare with so much gusto I wanted to run on stage and hug her neck because my daughter was in the audience with my nieces and you know what Maria taught them on Sunday …There are no limits….Let no one tell you that you can’t do something because let me tell you something YOU CAN.
So with that being said we came away with two winners we are excited to journey to Miss Oklahoma with, Carli will be the first one who has been on the Teen journey and is now taking the Miss journey with us and we will be teaching Autumn all the ropes!!! Miss Oklahoma here we come!