What got you started on pageants?
One day I was sitting at the kitchen table, and my mom showed me newspaper clippings of her when she was my age. She did Miss Missouri, and so she was showing me pictures of her when she was my age and trophies and newspaper clippings and all that stuff, and I thought it was super cool. I already modeled for Helen Wells Agency, so I kind of liked being in front of the camera, so she told me we should try it. She got second runner up, and I made a bet that I could get a higher place than she did, so that was actually one of the first things I said when I won. I whispered to her, “Hey, I beat you.” That’s what got me started.
Describe your process for preparing for a pageant.
I started taking speech classes with the number one best female speaker in the world. Her name is Kelly Sargeant. She lives in Texas, so I had to Skype her, FaceTime call her once or twice a month, and we prepared for the interview and on-stage portion of the pageant. It’s a two-minute
interview with the judges, and they’ll ask you questions, and you have to answer them on the spot. We prepared for that, and then I worked with a Notre Dame graduate and Colts cheerleader. Her name was Rose McClimans, and she taught me how to walk in big puffy dresses and heels. We have to walk out in athletic wear, so I had to learn how to do that because I was raised at a cowgirl barn, so I was raised in cowgirl boots, (and) I definitely did not know how to walk in heels. Then I went to Ashley Rene’s and bought my evening gown and had it fitted, and I went to the pageant on October 21.
What’s your favorite part?
I can’t help but love the evening gown portion of it. I love being in the big, flouncy, expensive dresses and getting to look all pretty. The athletic wear is fun too. You get to prance around on stage and show off your athleticism, so I like those portions of it.
Why does this mean so much to you?
I suffered from severe social anxiety, especially before pageantry and before modeling,
and through preparing for the pageant and being Miss Indiana, it has made me a more confident person. It has taught me how to speak in front of people that I don’t know and force myself to be better at it and get over that fear. I owe it to them to be a good Miss Indiana because they definitely helped me with that. (When I was younger), I would speak in front of a group of parents and start crying, so it’s definitely helped me a lot through that and it’s helped me give back to the community.
How do you give back to the community?
My platform is mostly around children with special needs, (specifically) autism because my nephew who is a couple of months younger than me has autism and I’ve lived with him my whole life. I’ve worked with Anna’s Celebration of Life foundation, and they have been working on a movement that I’m starting called #EveryoneAlways, and it’s a way to support kids with special needs in public schools and include them and spread awareness. I’m (also) working with the Ronald McDonald house, and I’m working on giving princess dresses and crowns to the kids at Riley Hospital. I’ve also worked with other kids with special needs in their homes that maybe can’t speak English or need help with that. I’ve gotten them wheelchairs and service dogs and vests that they need or something like that… I’m also trying to broaden that with Habitat for Humanity and things like that.
Do you feel people don’t appreciate pageantry as much as they should?
There’s definitely some people (who) look down on pageantry. They say, ‘Oh they’re just looking pretty. They sit and wave with a crown and sash,’ and that is not it at all. I work my butt off every day. It is so tiring. It is so much work, and some people just don’t understand that I am giving back. I am doing things. It’s not just because I’m wearing a crown or whatever, but I know a lot of people actually have started paying more attention to me because of it. I know modeling agencies that didn’t pay attention to me before have now contacted me and been like, “Hey, can you be the cover of this or do this?” It’s definitely given me many opportunities that I would’ve never gotten.
What is your inspiration?
My mom inspires me. She grew up in a very rural part of Missouri and didn’t really have the best support system, and now she is an ER physician at Riley Hospital. She’s worked her butt off to get there, but she has taught me about perseverance and hard work, and without her, I would not have been able to do this.
What is the difference between Miss USA and Miss America?
The Miss USA system is different from the Miss America system. The Miss America system has a talent, and it’s more focused on talent-based and speaking, whereas in the Miss USA system, there is no talent. I do not have a talent, (I)
didn’t do that. Confidently beautiful is their motto, so it’s more talking about confidence and carrying yourself and that kind of thing, so I think try for Miss America, and then once I’m old enough, go back to the USA system and then try for Miss Indiana.