Kira Kazantsev | So, How is Miss America Chosen Anyway?
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So, How is Miss America Chosen Anyway?

It has been over a month since the Miss America competition ended and I can’t even believe it. Where has the time gone? So much has happened over the past few weeks so I’m going to sum it up briefly with some highlights.

 

I had a couple of firsts: my 1st Matt Boyd photo shoot in Atlanta and my 1st media tour with my wardrobe sponsor, Joseph Ribkoff, which was also in Atlanta . Ribkoff treated me to a One Direction Concert while I was there…and I casually met the band. Then Ribkoff took me to Louisville, KY for an amazing photo shoot at Churchill Downs for Nfocus magazine and their Kentucky Derby issue; look out for the magazine spread in April! I then had a few days off and was able to go home to California for a family wedding, but just as quickly as I got there, I was on a plane back to New York City to attend the Friars Club Gala which honored Robert De Niro and Carlos Slim.

 

I attended the American Legion’s veteran’s job and opportunity fair in Atlantic City, and I visited the Richmond Avenue School for an assembly to talk about Miss America and my platform. While I was in Atlantic City, I even got to stop by the Miss Columbus Day local pageant to say hello to the girls competing, which was coincidentally being held in my hotel!

 

From Atlantic City, I was off to Washington, D.C. to attend the Association of United States Army convention with the USO. I was honored to meet several service members and learn about the USO and all the wonderful work they do for the men and women of our armed forces.

 

To wrap it all up, I spent the last few days on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA for the Pink Ribbons Crusade’s breast cancer awareness events, which included a beautiful fashion show and getting to spend time with my Miss America sisters! With plenty of media and interviews along the way, and other fun things that I’m sure I’m leaving out, it has definitely been a wild ride and I am so thankful for every single day that I get to do this job.

 

A question that I’ve gotten a lot while I’ve been on the road is, “How is Miss America chosen?” Some people think it’s a talent show, others think it’s a bikini competition, while others think it’s based solely on scholastic achievement and grades. What I hope people understand is that while most of these things factor into the score, Miss America is none of those things exclusively.

 

Miss America does not necessarily have the best body, the best talent, the best evening gown, the best interview, and most certainly does not have to be the most beautiful. However, Miss America MUST be well-rounded and that means being among the top scorers in ALL the categories. She is “best all around” or “the whole package.” If any one category carries more weight than another it would definitely be interview. If you have a great interview and connect with the judges, it’s very likely that the overall result will be a positive one. While this is not always the case, a solid interview can only help you. But you still have to ‘bring it’ in all the other categories.

 

One category that is deceiving in terms of its weight on the overall result is talent. While helpful, having the best talent will not necessarily ensure an overall win. Talent does count for 35%, more than any other category, however an entertaining talent that is memorable will often outscore someone who is extremely technical. The goal is, of course, to be both. Ask yourself, “Would the judges want to see this again?” If the answer is “yes” then go with what your heart tells you and have fun doing it. Just make sure to find the balance between technical execution, entertainment value, and showing your personality, as it’s all important to the judges.

 

I would say in determining Miss America, the swimsuit and evening gown are there to show how she carries and presents herself. It shows her confidence, she has a commitment to lifestyle and fitness, and she would be marketable as Miss America, further rounding her out as a good contestant. Also, walking on that stage in swimsuit and evening gown is one of the most empowering experiences I have ever had. It’s the culmination of all of your hard work in one moment. So enjoy it! Take it as an opportunity to show the judges your personality, but make sure to remember that what truly matters is how you look on the inside, not on the outside.

 

So, to those of you who might find yourselves scratching your head when the winner is announced, remember, you didn’t see her 10 minute private interview and although she might not be the most “beautiful, talented…blah blah blah” …she has the whole package, and that’s why the crown is on her head.

 

I’d also like to point out that Miss America is evolving. The formula that might’ve led to a crown 30 years ago just isn’t going to work in today’s competition world. Judges are looking for young women with character, opinions, life experience, and grit. They want someone who is real and unapologetic.

 

My advice to every young woman out there who hopes to pursue Miss America is to just BE YOU. No matter what any coach tells you to say or what a wardrobe person says you must wear or even what your parents or your local or state directors say you must do to win, you have to maintain a sense of YOU in everything you do and in all your preparation. So that when you are on that stage, you are the best version of YOURSELF. Not anyone else.

 

Too often, I see a young woman win based on the person that she is and the wonderful spirit inside her, and then by the time the next competition comes around she is a completely different person, ripped apart by the powers that be. There are many good people out there who are willing to help you, but you have to be able to weed through all the noise, edit, take what works for you, and politely leave behind anything that doesn’t. If you don’t feel it’s right, don’t do it. If it doesn’t sound good coming out of your mouth, don’t say it. And by all means, if you don’t like how it looks on you, don’t wear it.

 

This journey is about you. Don’t let others take it away from you.

10 Comments
  • Great post Kira! So excited to read about your year and follow along. I completely agree that it is the “best package” combined with what the judges are looking for. I think you will be a WONDERFUL Miss America and I cannot wait to see how your year goes. Best to you. Hopefully I will get to meet you sometime throughout this year. Otherwise I will see you at Miss America in 2015.

    October 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm
  • Katy
    Reply

    Love this post, love what you stand for!! I was there when you were crowned and you were the whole package on that stage! Thank you for making me proud to be a volunteer for this organization!!! Keep us posted!

    October 24, 2014 at 4:26 pm
  • Abigail
    Reply

    I think that everyone deserves a chance to shine no matter how young or old they may be. Everyone is special, and Kira is a great leading example for our state. She knows what she knows, and she does what she does, and she is a great role model to have. People aspire to be just like her and she will inspire many of our younger generations to change the world one child at a time

    October 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm
  • Julia
    Reply

    I absolutely love the ending line of this article: “This journey is about you. Don’t let others take it away from you.” It is not others that are taking this MAO journey away from me, but how I observe them. Often times, girls are experienced and know a lot about the process. This causes me to lose confidence in myself and be someone I’m not. But after a while, and with this post, I have truly opened up with the thought that the MAO is intended to be reachable, and reaches out to many girls. This is precisely why I am in love with this program!!!

    October 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm
  • ann Lavine
    Reply

    This is good. Kira explains everything but does not sound stuck up about it. This is why she won she was herself

    October 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm
  • Carolyn Layne
    Reply

    I loved this, thank you for sharing. I’ve appreciate all of the hurdles that you have gracefully overcome (mostly in the media) how well you’ve continue to present yourself in such a manner. I think one thing you’ve let out is the importance of being a strong role model for women, which you are of course! And so many other women like you. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your year with the positives and brush off the negative.

    October 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm
  • Tiffani Floyd
    Reply

    Well spoken!!! I have heard so many bash your talent because you used a solo cup… Ppl don’t realize that isn’t easy!!! And did they not hear your voice? You have a awesome voice! I think it was smart to use the cup because it put you out there for the judges to be in what you were doing!! Hope my duagther gets to that stage one day!!

    October 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm
  • Sheri Lashley
    Reply

    Kira, I could tell you were the whole package, way early in the pageant. I have been in “pageant world” for a very long time, and have been a talent and vocal coach. The best part about your talent, (besides the fact that you have a beautiful voice) is that you sat down, made yourself and everyone else comfortable, and then proceeded to have fun. May you have a most wonderful and blessed year.

    October 25, 2014 at 10:51 am
  • Jan
    Reply

    THANK YOU KIRA! My daughter has been in a state pageant two years in a row…..but because of a very bad director and committee, she has a broken spirit. They tore her down this past year – wanting her to look a certain way, wear certain clothes, style her hair a certain way – and each of the things they wanted were not her….it just wasn’t her personality, and wasn’t what she did to win two preliminaries (she was only in three preliminaries total in two years, so she must have been doing something right). So, thank you for these words of affirmation to BE YOURSELF. She tried to be true to herself and these people have ruined her reputation in the pageant world in our state. It’s sad – but again THANK YOU for encouraging…..keep spreading the word Kira.

    November 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm
  • Lexa
    Reply

    Kira,

    You are such an inspiration. I am about to compete in my very first local pageant, and your words have brought me so much happiness to be entering an organization where brilliant women like yourself are the epitome of what Miss America stands for. I am constantly amazed by your ability to be yourself, and to stand true to your opinions, style, and self despite what others say or believe. Thank you for your words, you’re incredible!

    July 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm

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