I am often asked by potential contestants, “what do I need to do to compete?” If you are new to pageants, I will do my best to answer this question. Here are 7 steps to set you on the road to Miss America.
7 Steps To Enter a Miss America Local Pageant
2. Choose A Social Impact Initiative
The Social Impact Initiative (SII) is a cause for which you will advocate during your year. Examples can be: childhood cancer awareness; anti-bullying; advocacy for the arts; healthy eating, etc. The best SII is one you have experience with and are passionate about. You should be able to speak spontaneously on the subject if asked, and you will be!
Your paperwork will be the first thing the judges see before they meet you in the interview. Your Resume should showcase your education, personality and accomplishments. Your Social Impact Statement is an essay about why you chose your initiative; why your initiative is relevant; and what you intend to do or what you have done to advocate your initiative. Remember, choose a social impact initiative you are passionate about. You can check out my blog about the Miss America Social Impact Initiative for more detailed information. You will also need a color photo of yourself for the program book and social media. Be sure to select a nice picture for the judges which represents who you are.
4. Prepare A 90-Second Talent
The talent competition is like “America’s Got Talent” for women and is a hallmark of the Miss America competition. You can sing, dance, play an instrument, recite a monologue, demonstrate a skill (yoga, painting, baton twirling) or even conduct a science experiment! You have 1 minute and 30 seconds to wow the judges. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be entertaining!
There are many pieces of advice I could share about wardrobe and what you should wear. I’ll leave you with this: what you wear should fit you well and make you feel great when you are on stage. It should reflect your personality and make you feel awesome! And, you do not have to spend a lot. I have found great dresses on pageant & prom resale sites, eBay, Amazon, and have borrowed clothing. Remember that you are competing to win scholarship money, and you don’t want to spend more than you can win.
NEW WITH 2.0
During Evening Gown Competition for MISS competitions, candidates will make an 8-second statement about their Social Impact Initiative in their evening gown. Watch for an upcoming video about the new Evening Gown competition.
NEW WITH 2020 Miss America Competition (December 2019)
Prepare a Social Impact Pitch (SIP). As of now, the SIP will be a 60 second "Ted Talk" and will be done only at state competitions in 2020. The SIP will be given by the final top 5 candidates. We are not sure if this will filter down to the local pageants.
6. Create Your Personal CMN (Children’s Miracle Network) Page
Miss America’s National Platform is the Children’s Miracle Network. Every contestant must set up her personal profile at and raise a minimum of $100 for CMN before competing in her first local pageant. Instructions can be found at Miss America 4 Kids. Once you have created your personal profile, you can email and post this link to friends and family to make a tax deductible contribution to CMN, or you can find creative ways to fundraise. You also can raise more than the minimum amount required for this very worthy cause.
This sometimes is the most overlooked part of preparation for new contestants. You will have a 10-minute interview with the judges, of which the last 30 seconds you may give a prepared (not memorized) closing statement. (NOTE: Teen Contestant interviews are shorter, so check with your local pageant. There is no closing statement for Teens.) What is the best way to prepare for this? First, read, re-read, and then re-re-read your paperwork! Do service work in your community. Stay up to date on current events. Practice answering questions with family and friends. You need to know everything that you have written in your paperwork and be prepared to talk about it. For keeping up on current events, I recommend theskimm.com which is an online news service providing an overview of current political issues. Have conversations with friends and family so you are able to articulate your views. The most important thing to know about the interview is to BE YOURSELF. Don’t answer questions based on what you think the judges want to hear. They are there to get to know you, so show them your heart! You can watch my video to learn more about the 10-minute judges interview!
Now that you have your to-do list, it’s time to final a local pageant and enter!
Kathryn Rose Kueppers, Author