THOUGHTS OF MISS USA
FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (April 15, 2019)
Who will succeed Miss USA 2018, Sarah Rose Summers of Nebraska and be crowned Miss USA 2019??
And Gomorrah! Here we go again, folks! We are headed back to the state of Nevada, but this time we’re going to Reno Tahoe which has stepped up to host the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants being held concurrently for the second year in a row and I’m also very happy to see that we will welcome back last year’s hosts, Vanessa Lachey (Miss Teen USA 1998) and her husband Nick Lachey of the boy-band 98 Degrees. Several of the Miss Universe family of pageants have been held in the city of Las Vegas which is also in Nevada but now Reno Tahoe gets to show the world what it has to offer by welcoming the most beautiful and accomplished ladies in the United States. This will put much pressure on the hometown girl, Nevada’s own Tianna Jacqlyn Nomura McMoore Timu Tuamoheloa who is one of very few delegates of Samoan descent to compete at Miss USA. Tianna is very much a fitness buff who works for Top Rank Boxing and ESPN as a boxing ring girl. Tianna also previously held the 2014 Miss Nevada Collegiate America title. Much of one of my favorite movies “Sister Act” (starring Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy and Maggie Smith) was set in Reno where Goldberg’s character Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence performed in a lounge act in Reno (the Biggest Little City in the World) but had to hide out disguised as a nun in a convent after witnessing a murder. Deloris would end up becoming a much-loved choir director for the nuns in the convent who end up being nuns on the run that come to her rescue after Deloris is kidnapped by the murderer’s cronies when they find her and take her back to Reno. But will the sisters save Deloris in time for their choir to perform for the Pope?? So, back to Miss USA, planning for Reno to host all came together at the last minute with the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino being confirmed as the venue after city council approved funding for the pageant on March 28 giving everyone less than a month to plan before the delegates arrive. The date for the pageant was announced on March 18. The rumor of the pageant being held in Reno was circulating for a while leading up to the official announcement but the date of May 2 was somewhat unexpected as May 2 is a Thursday. FOX might have allotted the Thursday time slot in an attempt to boost ratings as they have been dwindling over the years with last year seeing the second lowest ratings in the pageant’s history with 2.35 million viewers but it had some heavy competition on that Monday night (May 21, 2018) from other networks so I’m curious to see how the ratings will change this year and what competition on other networks that Miss USA is up against. Last year was also the first time that Miss USA was not held on a Sunday since 2008 which was held on a Friday. 2005 was also held on a Monday but the last time Miss USA was held on a Thursday was 20 years ago, back in 1999. The lowest rated Miss USA pageant was the chaotic 2015 Miss USA pageant which almost got derailed when a certain former co-owner of the pageants who would later become President said some stuff resulting in NBC abruptly dropping the pageant to be picked up by a smaller network, Reelz resulting in 925,000 viewers. The highest rated Miss USA pageant was the 1979 pageant which pulled in 38.1 million viewers but 1979 was a very different time compared to today so with a combination of other factors like social media and other competitive factors, those numbers will never be reached again for any special event.
This year’s Miss USA pageant in Reno promises to be a Sistah Act of epic proportions as there are some fine sistahs competing this year. West Virginia’s Haley Holloway is one delegate that I have been anticipating for quite a while as she was my prediction to win Miss Teen USA 2013 but Haley would have to settle for a 2nd runner up position so obviously, Haley is one of my favorites. Will Haley emerge triumphant this time around and be crowned Miss USA 2019? Another woman that I predicted to win Miss Teen USA was Alyssa Campanella who finished as 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007 representing New Jersey but, of course, Alyssa would go on to win Miss USA 2011 representing California and Alyssa also would become the first woman to top my prediction lists at Miss Teen USA and Miss USA so will Haley Holloway be the next woman to top my prediction lists for both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA?? Haley does have a great personality with popstar great looks. During Miss Teen USA, she said some have confused her for Rihanna but I thought she looked more like Azealia Banks with a better attitude though. Haley has also graduated from the prestigious New York Film Academy and is presently attending Lindenwood University while running a consulting business and hosts a real estate and home design show called "Family Flip." West Virginia has never captured the Miss USA crown but did place as 1st runner up in 1984. New Hampshire’s Alexis Chinn is a standout with her big diva hairstyle but her looks are quite malleable so I’m interested to see how she styles her hair during the pageant. Alexis currently studies Chemistry at Southern New Hampshire University and volunteers to combat domestic violence. New Hampshire has also never won the Miss USA crown but did place as 1st runner up in the year 2000. Oklahoma’s Triana Browne also competed at Miss America 2018 representing Oklahoma but went unplaced surprisingly so is back with a vengeance trying for the Miss USA crown this time around. I think Triana is quite accomplished as she is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she earned a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a focus in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She is a passionate about sports and ran track competitively and also partnered with Nike N7 and The Chickasaw Nation allowing Triana to work to generate proceeds for struggling Native American communities aiming to spread unity through the power of sports. Her multiracial background also makes her a standout as she is the child of a light-skinned, Native-American father and a dark-skinned, multi-racial mother who is a doctor. Oklahoma won its only Miss USA crown just a few years ago in 2015 thanks to Olivia Jordan so could Triana do it again four years later like North Carolina did?
Kryst Be With You
The power of Kryst compels you to keep an eye on Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina! (It’s not pronounced Christ actually, it’s pronounced krist with a short “i”) Of course, you know I love that naturally big diva curly hair that she is sporting and I hope she does compete with this hairstyle as she does change it up from time to time. Apart from this fabulous distinctive look, Cheslie also fits the accomplished category that IMG is seeking in their titleholders. Cheslie works full-time as an attorney and is licensed to practice law in two states. She earned both her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, she also runs a fashion blog called “White Collar Glam” highlighting professional attire for women and even hopes to start her own line of clothing focusing on workwear fashion. She volunteers for "Dress For Success" which is an organization that empowers women to escape volatile situations and achieve economic independence by providing the support and tools needed for women to prosper. Cheslie is extremely accomplished and is poised to bring a possible third Miss USA crown to the Tar Heel state. North Carolina has captured the Miss USA crowns in 2005 and 2009 thanks to Chelsea Cooley and Kristen Dalton respectively and North Carolina also placed as 1st runner up last year and that runner-up, Caelynn Miller-Keyes wasn’t able to crown Cheslie as her successor because Caelynn became a contestant on the recently concluded season of ‘The Bachelor’ finishing in 4th place. The Bachelor (Colton Underwood) selected Cassie Randolph. Caelynn competed along with another of last year’s Miss USA contestants, Alabama’s Hannah Brown who went unplaced last year at Miss USA 2018 but finished 7th on this same season of ‘The Bachelor’ but Hannah would go on to be selected to become ‘The Bachelorette’ so Hannah begins her quest for love when her season begins on May 13. Since Caelynn wasn't able to crown her successor, Cheslie was actually crowned by last year’s Miss North Carolina Teen USA, Kaaviya Sambasivam, who was my prediction to win Miss Teen USA last year but finished as 4th runner up.
A Barbie Girl In A Barbie World
Imagination. Life is your creation. Will she or won’t she? The most publicized delegate this year is the Georgious peach, Katerina Rozmajzl who many have deemed a real-life Barbie. Born in Prague, Czech Republic where there certainly are a lot of beautiful people, Katerina has five younger sisters and beauty definitely runs in this family as you can see. Even Katerina’s boyfriend, Czarek Czworkowski, could pass for a Ken doll so we’re talking some seriously extreme beauty all around here. Katerina’s look is polarizing though as some say she might look somewhat artificial or almost too good to be true and this look probably would also appeal more to a male panel of judges but the judges will likely be all female as they have been in recent years. However, don’t be so quick to judge based on her appearance alone because Katerina does actually possess a lot of significant achievements relevant to the modern era of pageantry. Katerina is studying Accounting at Kennesaw State University, where she is an honors student in the Coles College of Business and she plans to obtain her Master’s Degree in Accountancy and pursue her CPA licence. She is also an entrepreneur who started her own business called Katerina Cosmetics, Inc., at the age of 18 and she uses this entrepreneurial knowledge serving as an ambassador for Kiva which is an organization that helps to crowdfund loans for underprivileged international communities to start their own businesses. Katerina is passionate about helping women and children escape from human trafficking, domestic abuse, and homelessness. Like North Carolina’s Cheslie Kryst, Katerina also volunteers for and donates to "Dress For Success" which is an Atlanta-based organization that empowers women to escape volatile situations and achieve economic independence by providing the support and tools needed for women to prosper. Katerina does motivational speaking and has a large social media following and she is an influencer for various brands like Sherri Hill (who is also returning as a gown sponsor this year) and Forever 21. Here is a video of Katerina modelling various Sherri Hill gowns:
Katerina also had a cameo in the pageant-themed movie “Dumplin” which also stars Kathy Najimy and Jennifer Aniston with music from Dolly Parton. I think Miss USA would benefit from selecting Katerina to wear the crown and it would be good for the brand as she would likely garner an even larger fan following for the pageant as she does have a showstopping presence and can back it up with her achievements and social media following so she is (as Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach would say) timely and relevant. Girl’s Instagram game be on fleek! Katerina would be a very in-demand titleholder as Miss USA and would be invited to make lots of special appearances. All eyes will be on her during the competition and this is the kind of delegate who will either go far in the competition or not place at all but she is too much of a standout so at the moment, she is my winner but will that change after preliminaries? We shall see what happens! The exposure she will get during the Miss USA pageant could propel her to superstardom regardless of what happens as Miss USA does have a large international following. Also, it should be noted that Georgia has never won the Miss USA crown although they have placed as a runner-up numerous times with the highest ranking Georgian being Erin Nance who was 1st runner up to Miss USA 1993, Michigan’s Kenya Moore who interestingly enough ended up starring on a Georgia-based show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Will Katerina Rosmajzl be the sweetest peach of all and give Georgia that long awaited, highly anticipated Miss USA win?
Game of Pageant Thrones
Miss USA 1984 (New Mexico's Mai Shanley) sits in her throne shortly after host Bob Barker announces her win.
Rather than Winter is coming, let’s say a winner is coming! The art of the statehop is nothing new to pageantry and there have been several examples over the years of delegates that competed in one state and experienced losses only to hop to another state and claim that state title so it has become its own little Game of Pageant Thrones or a Clash of Queens, if you will. This also reminds me that the winner of the Miss Universe family of pageants hasn’t sat in a throne after doing her victory walk since 1997! New Mexico’s Alejandra Gonzalez previously competed at Miss Texas USA several times from 2012 to 2018 with her best result there being named 1st runner up to Miss Texas USA 2015, Ylianna Guerra who was also 1st runner up to Miss USA 2015, Oklahoma’s Olivia Jordan who also was previously 1st runner up at Miss California USA 2013! You get it. The chain is endless! However, Alejandra is considered a strong contender as she is very striking and many people love her sweet personality. Alejandra holds a Master’s degree in Accounting and is passionate about teaching young people about financial literacy and also participates in various animal causes due to her love of animals. New Mexico has won the Miss USA crown once back in 1984 thanks to Mai Shanley so is it time again for the land of enchantment? Of course, we would have to mention the actual representative of Texas here and that would be Alayah Benavidez. Alayah was once diagnosed with dyslexia but it made her more determined and she is currently studying at the University of San Antonio and is financing her education as a model and an orthodontic assistant. Alayah is a literacy advocate who started a campaign called “Read The Way”, which gives her the opportunity to encourage school children across the nation in reading, writing, and goal setting. Alayah also previously held the title of Miss United States 2016. Texas is the most successful state at Miss USA boasting 9 wins, 5 of which were consecutive crowns from 1985 to 1989 but the lonestar state hasn’t captured the crown since 2008 when Crystle Stewart reigned triumphant and Texas has only placed in two of the last five years so can we get a good read on how Alayah will do? Another example of the successful statehop would be Pennsylvania’s Kailyn Perez who competed at Miss Florida USA 2014 to 2018, excluding 2016, with her best result there being named 1st runner up to Miss Florida USA 2015, Ashleigh Lollie. Kailyn is quite tall and accomplished having obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2018. Kailyn also studied ballet and dance and would dance professionally with the Orlando Ballet Company but had to stop due to an injury but that injury caused to shift her focus on other items of interest like her admiration of the U.S. political system, public speaking and she also volunteers for organizations like Best Buddies and Running Start and she even hopes to start her own talk show one day. We know how gracefully dancers move on stage and her story is interesting so Kailyn is one to watch. Pennsylvania has only captured the Miss USA crown once back in 1971 thanks to Michele McDonald so could be it time again for the Keystone state? Kailyn statehopped from Florida which is being represented by Nicolette Jennings who actually also previously competed at Miss Maryland Teen USA and then several times at Miss Florida USA before finally clenching the Florida crown. Nicolette describes herself as a tomboy and we know how much they love the whole tomboy angle in pageantry and breaking glass ceilings by working in a field that is predominantly male as she worked as a sports reporter working with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is currently earning a Master's Degree in Sports Management. Florida has never won the Miss USA crown so could Nicolette finally get it for the Sunshine state?
Achievements Are Sexy
The top 3 of Miss USA 1996 - Ali Landry of Louisiana, Becca Lee of Tennessee and Danielle Boatwright of Kansas
The final question for the 1996 Miss USA pageant was “How would the world be different if women were judged solely on their achievements rather than on their looks?” The stellar top 3 that year (consisting of Louisiana’s Ali Landry, Kansas’ Danielle Boatwright, and Tennessee’s Becca Lee) all pretty much concluded that this was already the case, phrased differently by each contestant, but it was Ali Landry who would emerge triumphant that night 23 years ago.
Today, the IMG era of pageantry seems to have borrowed from the example of that final question and has emphasized its focus on achievements and accomplishments, where forward-thinking individuals would strive to achieve rather than focus solely on external appearance and they would have us believe that accomplishments and achievements are sexy. Massachusetts is being represented by Kelly O’Grady who is quite the achiever. Kelly is a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University who not only graduated with honors after double majoring in Social Studies and East Asian Studies but Kelly would go to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School. On top of that, Kelly works as a management consultant travelling the world advising CEOs and managers of ways to improve their businesses and has a women’s advocacy program called Here to Slay focused on empowering women. She also worked in Corporate Strategy at The Walt Disney Company and was even a competitive figure skater for over 15 years and we know how gracefully figure skaters move on stage so Kelly is absolutely one to watch. Will all these achievements cause Kelly to be recognized in a big way on May 2nd and could she get a third Miss USA crown for Massachusetts succeeding those obtained by Shawnae Jebbia in 1998 and Susie Castillo in 2003?
Another overachiever competing for the 2019 Miss USA crown would be Kansas’ Alyssa Klinzing, who was also Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013 and placed among the semifinalists at Miss Teen USA that year wearing that memorable flower gown. Alyssa also placed as 3rd runner up at Miss California USA 2018 and held a part-time position working in Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland. She is obtaining a degree in Political Science and aims for a political career as a White House press secretary which should be aided by the skills attained from being a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and obtaining the highest honor in that program being named Scout of the Year 2016. She has survived domestic abuse and her passion for politics drives Alyssa to educate the nation’s citizens about the political process and stresses the importance of female representation in politics with a goal of seeing record-breaking participation in the next presidential election in 2020. Kansas has won the Miss USA crown once thanks to Kelli McCarty in 1991 and the reigning Miss Teen USA is from Kansas and the last time a state won Miss USA immediately after winning Miss Teen USA was in 2013 when Connecticut’s Erin Brady won the Miss USA crown right after Connecticut’s Logan West won Miss Teen USA 2012. Can Alyssa do it again this time for the state where the folks still believe there’s no place like home?
Life is Peaceful There
This is our destiny. California currently holds the longest streak in the semifinals at Miss USA placing three years in a row from 2016 to 2018 and this year’s California Girl, Erica Dann hopes to make it a fourth and possibly even make it a win! California is the second most successful state at Miss USA (after Texas) boasting 6 Miss USA crowns. Erica has significant educational achievements as she possesses a Master’s degree in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Florida but Erica would go west obtaining a great job working for Google as a People Operations Business Partner and working for Google has many perks including free food but she shall not be led into temptation for she does have to maintain that pageant figure but then there’s always the body positivity route, right? Erica also volunteers to combat homelessness throughout the United States which is a cause she is passionate about and she also loves to travel. California has almost won one Miss USA crown in every decade except in the 2000s when they came close by obtaining three 1st runner up placements (2005, 2006 and 2009). The six years that California did win the Miss USA crown were 1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011. This is California’s last chance to get a second Miss USA crown to make up for the one lost in the 2000s so can Erica do it??
Manya Feel Like A Woman
Let’s go, girls. Manya Saaraswat of New Jersey is definitely one to watch this year. She is the third woman of Indian descent to represent New Jersey at Miss USA following Emily Shah in 2014 who was among the top 20 that year and Chhavi Verg in 2017 who finished as 1st runner up matching New Jersey’s highest placement which was also obtained by Charlotte Ray in 1991. Now, here we have Manya who has a chance to get that first elusive Miss USA crown for the Garden state and she could very well do it as her accomplishments are right in step with the IMG era of pageantry. For you see, Manya is a graduate of Bucknell University holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and her findings have been published in medical journals. Manya held a stem cell research internship at Harvard University and she aims to become a pediatric surgeon. Combine these accomplishments with Manya’s strong stage presence and her unique, exotic look and we have us a contender.
(Blame It On The Reign)
Whatever you do, don’t put the blame on you… So, I decided to include a little segment (using a headline semi-inspired by the 1990 Miss USA swimsuit song, Milli Vanilli’s ‘Blame it on the Rain’) on some relationships that have been happening in the pageant world that have a connection to one very important pageant titleholder, Olivia Culpo who won Miss USA 2012 and would go on to win Miss Universe 2012. Olivia has her own clothing line collaborating with Express and she is currently in an on-and-off relationship with football wide receiver, Danny Amendola but two of Olivia’s exes clearly have a penchant for pageant girls.
Nick Jonas has made several appearances in the Miss Universe family of pageants including performing with the Jonas Brothers during the 2007 Miss Teen USA evening gown competition and he also co-hosted Miss USA 2013 alongside Giuliana Rancic. Nick also famously featured Olivia Culpo in the music video for his song “Jealous” which was released in 2014 and was even performed by Nick during the evening gown competition of the 2014 Miss Universe pageant won by Colombia’s Paulina Vega and there was a moment during this performance that Nick Jonas who was then dating Olivia Culpo got down on his knees in front of her in the audience sparking rumors that a marriage proposal was in the works. After Olivia and Nick broke up, Nick would start dating another very notable and successful international pageant queen, Miss World 2000, India’s Priyanka Chopra and the two would have a highly publicized marriage on December 1, 2018. It’s also interesting to note that Priyanka (born in 1982) is 10 years older than Nick (born in 1992) and like many other famous couples, Priyanka jokingly named the couple Prick (combining Priyanka and Nick)! There were some elaborate ceremonies performed in India following both Christian and Hindu traditions. After breaking up with Nick Jonas, Olivia Culpo was rumored to have a short relationship with football quarterback, Tim Tebow, but it supposedly never went anywhere largely due to Tebow’s virginity vow (similarly to the Bachelor, Colton Underwood mentioned earlier) and he wants to remain chaste before marriage. Tim Tebow, was born in the pageant loving nation of the Philippines when his parents were working as Christian Baptist missionaries there so this might explain his pursuit of a pageant queen, and instead of pursuing a relationship with Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, he would date and later end up proposing to Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa. Tim had a special date planned at Walt Disney World in Florida and coordinated for Demi-Leigh’s family to make surprise appearance and Demi accepted his proposal at his family’s farm outside of Jacksonville, Florida on January 9, 2019 and a wedding is currently being planned for Tim and Demi-Leigh. Tim even got her an internally flawless diamond 7.25 carat solitaire engagement ring saying that the ring was internally flawless, just like Demi-Leigh. Awww... Love is in the air in the pageant world and is 2012’s Miss Universe and Miss USA, Olivia culpable for this? Olivia’s time will come but for now, she is enjoying her successes and we shall see what the future holds for her and these significant couples connected to her and to pageantry. Blame it on the reign, yeah-ee-yeah!
On April 23, I will post a second round of prethoughts with comments on each of the 51 delegates competing for Miss USA 2019 and then after observing the preliminaries (being shown on missusa.com or their social media channels on April 29), I will post my final predictions for Miss USA on May 1 and then the big night is May 2 when the new Miss USA is selected. Who will be the chosen one?
Watch Miss USA 2019 on Thursday, May 2 on FOX!
Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP