Q: Hi there!!!! I’m competing for Miss WI USA this year as a first time pageant girl. From all of my research and readings I’ve found confidence and smiles are a must during swimwear. I’m curious if facial expressions like winks and laughs are inappropriate or if they would enhance your stage presence. So basically what are the do’s and dont’s for onstage facial expressions in the Miss USA System?
Alyssa: Welcome to the crazy fun world of pageantry! Your research is correct – confidence and smiles are very important during the swimsuit competition but also during the evening gown competition and interview as well. However, I am strongly against winks and laughs onstage. Sometimes when a girl is nervous she cannot always control her giggles, and that’s one thing, but forced laughs are not encouraged. They are one of my biggest personal pet peeves. The same goes for winking onstage. It doesn’t matter if I am a spectator or a judge – winks made me cringe in my seat! You don’t want to appear over confident, and for me I think winks cross that line. At the same, I always encourage contestants to do what comes naturally to them. You will find that what usually comes naturally is simply smiling because you are so excited! Best of luck in your pageant!
Q: Before pageants did you have a certain way of staying up to date with current events? News,TV, Social media, any websites you recommend? Any tips on how to prepare for your final question at Miss USA (and how to not be nervous knowing millions will be watching)?
Alyssa: I cannot stress enough the importance of staying up to date with current events as a titleholder. Even though I am no longer a titleholder, I personally feel how I get my news every day is a great example of how a contestant can prepare. I usually watch CNN late at night or first thing in the morning, and while eating breakfast I always read a daily newspaper such as USA Today. I also have alerts set up on my iPhone from CNN, plus I follow CNN Breaking News and the Associated Press on Twitter (@cnnbrk and @AP) because they are usually posting news updates every hour and are always on top of breaking news coverages. Also, not many contestants know that when you win the national or international titles of Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss World, or Miss Teen USA how many current events questions can be thrown at you in interviews or at social events, so it’s very important to stay up to date.
Q: As an experienced pageant contestant, I always get nervous before my next pageant if I didn't win my last one. I'm either too paranoid about whether or not to change my hair style or if I should take my gown selection in a different direction. Since you've competed multiple times, do you have any advice for us returning contestants on how to use our past experience to the fullest potential to make our next pageant a winning moment?
Alyssa: There’s no reason to be nervous! It should be driving you and encouraging you to keep going. Every girl is different, but one thing I think you should do what makes you feel most like yourself. One thing I never personally changed when I competed in pageants (except for Miss Universe) was my hairstyle. I knew that keeping my hair down shaped my face better and I knew it was a look I felt most comfortable and natural with. Look at photos from your previous pageants and take a moment to recognize which hairstyle made you feel most like yourself. With gowns, it’s always fun when you are willing to take a risk. However, risks are risks. I would personally stick with a gown type that fits your body and personality best. For me, that was a mermaid gown. My Miss NJ Teen USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss California USA, and Miss USA gowns were all mermaid gowns. I knew how to walk in them and I felt they worked the best with my personal style and personality. So when you are choosing your next gown for your next pageant, just take a moment to think about what type of gown works best for you.
Q: Hi Alyssa, my name is Peter and I am such a huge fan of yours. I’m in my schools varsity show choir and we’re done with competition season. We go to many schools to compete. After all the show choirs have performed they have the six finalists that get to perform again. I will tell you right now that there is nothing more terrifying than sitting there waiting to hear you show choir’s name called into finals. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. For the time I was in show choir we had placed at every competition. I’m a senior and sadly we didn’t hear our name called into finals at our last two competitions. In fact, we placed dead last at our last competition. I’m not in it to win or place high, I just like performing. My question is that since you have been in so many pageants, how have you dealt with standing there waiting to hear your name called as a finalist. I always breathe really heavy and think its not gonna happen and I want to be better with that. So how have you dealt with it? Thank You and best of luck with what’s next for you
Alyssa: Congratulations on all your successes with your choir! I completely understand and can relate to how you feel when your name isn’t called. I can also relate to you about breathing heavily before the final announcements! But it might be easier to handle those moments by just remembering what you said – that you’re in this competition because you love performing. That’s how it was for me with pageantry. I just enjoyed being onstage wearing beautiful makeup and getting to walk around in a beautiful gown. It’s okay if I didn’t win. I was there because I wanted to be. To go into a competition with the mentality that you’re in it to win it sets you up for an even greater fall, in my opinion. To know that you did your best and you had fun because you absolutely love what you do should be enough of a reward, no matter what the outcome.
Q: With Miss USA coming up I was curious how the interview format was? How long is the interview? And is Donald Trump really in the room watching you? Does he ask you questions?
Alyssa: The interview format sounds so incredibly nerve wrecking but once you actually take part in it you’ll wish it went on all day long. The interview format is alphabetical, just like every other part of the competition. I am not sure if the format has changed, but when I competed the format went something like this: You do not go into the interview room alone – you will be paired with the state next to you in line alphabetically. You and your fellow contestant will stand in front of two panels of judges. When a bell is rung, one of you goes to one panel and the other goes to the second panel. You have three minutes with the first panel of judges. Usually they ask you questions off of your lengthy bio sheet you filled out months ago. Of course if you come from a state where there are major current events, do not be surprised if they ask you something about that. After three minutes, a bell rings again and you go back to your original spot with your fellow contestant. You then switch panels. You now go to the second panel and the other contestant goes to the other panel. Again, you have three minutes to converse with the judges. Once your time is up, you exit the room and voilá you are done! Donald Trump is not in the interview room (he usually does not arrive until a day or two before the final telecast), however Paula Shugart and usually another member of the MUO staff are usually seated at one of the panels observing. No one asks a contestant any questions except for the judges.
Q: My name is Mckenzie, I will be competing in my first pageant ever in January (Miss California USA 2015). I am so excited but nervous as well! I was wondering if you could give me any interviewing tips and advice. Or any advice in general about my first pageant! Thank you so much!! Mckenzie
Alyssa: Hello Mckenzie! My best interview advice is to not treat the interview as an interview. Treat it like a conversation similar to one you would have with one of your siblings, your friends, or your parents. Starting a few months before the pageant, have your parents or friends randomly ask you questions from your bio sheet or about current events. You’ll soon find yourself able to think quick on your feet and answer any question with ease. Just remember to breathe! A lot of first time contestants are incredibly nervous about the interview portion, but there is nothing to be nervous about! It’s one of the few times where speaking entirely about yourself in a room full of people is allowed and encouraged! Best of luck!
Q: Hi Alyssa, I’m from the Czech Republic and I’m big fan of you... so I would like to ask you - have you ever been in the Czech Republic? Thank you for the answer I wish you still much success!
Alyssa: Hello there! Unfortunately I have not yet been to Czech Republic but I hope to be able to say I have been there very soon! It looks like such a beautiful country!
Q: Your Miss Universe dress was not your typical dress for this pageant. Do you recommend dresses that will make you stand out? Is there a certain color you would suggest over any others?
Alyssa: I chose my Miss Universe dress because it was my last pageant ever and I decided I wanted to try something a little different and outside the box, plus it hid my shoulders that I was trying to desperately to hide at the time. I recommend a dress that works best for your personality and feels like a winner the second you put it on. Us girls usually know right away when we love something or dislike something, especially when it comes to fashion! If you put on a gown and do not feel like a Miss USA or a Miss Universe inside, it’s not your gown. I really don’t have a top color to suggest, however one color I truly dislike on evening gowns is orange.
Q: The reason that I decided to compete in pageants is simply because in my teenage years I got picked on and bullied a lot by my peers and family members. This made me really insecure and I also tend to be hard on myself when I fail at something. Three months I prepped and worked out for my first pageant, but a couple of weeks ago I decide that it would be best for me not to compete due to me not being ready and other factors going on in my life. Although this was the best decision for my current situation I am really disappointed in myself, for I dream to one day be a contestant walking on that Miss USA stage. This road block in my pageant journey made it really difficult for me to believe in myself as I once did. Any advice or tips on how one can stay positive and remain focused on their pageant goals when experiencing doubt?
Alyssa: I am actually incredibly proud of you for being able to make such a mature decision in a hard situation. Only you will know when you are ready to compete. That could be tomorrow, in two weeks, or in two years. The ball is in your court. The fact that you have visions and dreams of being a contestant at the Miss USA pageant should be enough to drive you forward. If you can see it, you can do it. But you should do it when you are ready, and I am very impressed you recognized that you were just not ready yet. That kind of maturity and responsibility is what will make you an excellent titleholder someday.
Q: Hi Alyssa, I have acne prone skin which makes me feel ultra-insecure on the stage. What tips do you have to rejuvenate my skin to feel more confident? Thank you from Pauline
Alyssa: Hi Pauline! I used to battle dermatitis when I was competing in my late teens. I know how much it can be a confidence reducer. My advice is to use the simplest face products, such as Cetaphil. Avoid products with parabens, sulfates, and fragrances. To zap zits overnight, I use Kate Somerville’s EradiKate (available at Sephora). I also suggest using beauty oil or face balms instead of moisturizing creams. If you can visit a dermatologist, I highly recommend visiting one for he/she might be able to prescribe you something a bit stronger than what you can purchase in a drug store. Also drink lots and lots of water to keep your skin hydrated.
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This article was written by Alyssa Campanella
Alyssa Campanella was first introduced to pageants at the age of 15. At age 16, she won the title of Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2007 and placed 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007. At age 20, Alyssa was crowned Miss California USA 2011 and ultimately won the crown and title of Miss USA 2011. Serving as Miss USA 2011, Alyssa traveled around the world on behalf of numerous charitable organizations and placed in the Top 16 at Miss Universe 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter at @AlyssCampanella or visit her personal blog at www.jumpersandjasmine.com.