I was so honored to have been asked by pageant guru Gaspar Cruz to judge the Teen & Jr. Teen United States-World pageants. We also judged the Miss United States Intercontinental pageant as, meaning that over three days of competition, we had to judge and narrow down the field of over 80 young women to just 3 queens (one in each division).
The pageant was in Houston so I made a roadtrip. It was my first time heading south on the 45 and I was kind of surprised by the size of Huntsville Prison. While stopping for a bite to each, I did some research. It's the prison that executions are conducted in Texas. One of the most notorious hostage situations occurred at that prison. The prisoners built the old electric chair referred to as "Old Sparky." And at the prison museum across the street, there is apparently a display of creative shanks made by inmates. Intriguing.
Back on the road, I arrived in Houston around 3 on Thursday and was immediately whisked away for makeup. The pageant started that evening with the preliminary competitions. We judged all of the contestants in evening gowns, the teen and Miss contestants in bathing suits and the juniors in casual wear. With all of the talent on the stage, we had an incredible task ahead of us.
"Us" - the judges. Let me introduce you to this group of awesome folks I got to spend the weekend with. We had so much fun and have created relationships that will last a lifetime.
This unbelievable young woman is breath-taking. She's got the Angelina Jolie thing down - stunningly beautiful. Well, Miss Hilary is the former Miss Teen USA 2007 and is currently pursuing an acting career in L.A. Nothing but good things are coming to Hil - she's a rockstar!
This former Mrs. World, Mrs. America and Mrs. Arizona is my hero! She is such an accomplished pageant scene and I'm totally looking forward to getting to know her better. I'm hoping to help her judge her local pageant in New York in the fall.
A graduate of FIDM San Francisco, my new friend Hilario now works for Phyto and schooled all of us on our haircare. Thanks to him, I plan on having amazing luxurious locks in the near future. By the way, Hilario is skilled in Tahitian dance and he's also a figure model.
Annie was my first co-judge I met - we got our makeup done together. I realized quickly that she is a stunning beauty queen - she's is the former Miss Montana USA 2010. This wonderful young lady is so excited - she's planning her wedding to a wonderful guy who proposed to her on stage when she was relinquishing her crown at the end of her reign. I watched the proposal on youtube - it is too sweet!
Dewayne is THE premiere wedding coordinator in the Houston area. We had so much fun looking at the amazing events he's planned on his iPad. I was floored. He's incredibly talented. And FUN! After we sat in interviews for 10 hours one day, Hilario, Dewayne and I walked to Grand Luxe for some dinner and bounded some more. Good times - I've got two new brothers and three new sisters in crime!
The first night's festivities included the preliminary competitions in gowns, casual wear for the juniors and swimsuits for the teens and misses. Our scores determined the cuts that would be made to determine who would move on in the competition. It was a fun night, and the judges looked good....
....but we knew the competition was going to be tough. We had our work cut out for us.
The following day, we spent hours upon hours, from 8am until 6pm judging the girls in interview. THe interviews were very important to me - it's an opportunity to see if these girls had a little more than just being pretty. Too my pleasant surprise, most of them did. One girl busted out a Carmen opera song for us - she was amazing. Two other young ladies told us they can sign with the mouthes closed - they demonstarted and were right. One negative that came up during interview - it because clear to us that bullying was on the minds of a lot of contestants. THey might be bullied for not being pretty enough. Or, they might be too pretty and polished, so then she's bullied for being too much of a pageant patty. One young lady even started crying - we went out of our way to make sure she knew she was loved and appreciated. Overall, the ladies were phenomenal and inspired me to step up my game.
Judgment day was on Saturday - we had to judge three separate competitions. We were thrilled to award Rylie Spicker of Florida as the new Jr. Teen United States World.
The Miss United States Intercontinental winner is Jessica Hartman from Colorado. This lovely lady is going to rock it at the international pageant. She was one of my faves from the beginning.
Then we had to decide the Teen United States-World winner. It was frustrating for me because I had my favorites - some of them didn't make the first cut down to 20, then the second cut down to 10, then the third cut down to 5. I really liked a young lady from Florida - Jasmine Avery. I think she presented herself so well on stage and was a contender. The other judges didn't feel as strongly as I did. I also thought two of the girls in the top five were stunningly beautiful - Miss Oklahoma and Miss Missouri. Both were stunning and belonged to be in the top 5, but they seemed to be missing something. Neither thanked the judges after being called for the top 5 - that mattered to some of us. In contrast, the two ladies that won and were first runner-up thanked up profusely. Our teen winne is Devin Gant from North Carolina. This young lady had it going on - she deserved to win the crown.
Congrats again to the winners and to all of the contestants who did a wonderful job. I leave you on a funny - as the top ten was being announced for teen, I quickly noticed that no blondes where being called. In fact, by the time all the contestants had been called, there were only brunettes and a red-head in the top 10. When does that ever happen???
I had fun - I hope they ask me back again to judge!