There She Is: 6 Memorable Miss America Moments (VIDEO)
We all know the ingredients for a Miss America pageant: 51 female contestants, a whole lot of hopes for World Peace, and a sparkling crown. Yet this year, the iconic competition has eliminated the oft-parodied swimsuit portion and shifts away from “judging on outward appearance” and more towards a “focus on the candidates’ voices to be heard,” according to the official Miss America 2.0 mission statement.
We’re all for the modern update of a pageant that awards educational scholarships, but let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments from previous competitions in its 98-year history, from cringe-worthy blunders to touching wins.
In 1968, contestant Judith Ford was deemed “too masculine” by the pageant officials after she used a trampoline for the talent portion. Ford went on to win the title, but to this day she remains the only competitor to utilize a trampoline onstage.
A Series of Firsts
Actress and singer Vanessa Williams made history as the first African-American woman to be awarded the Miss America crown in 1984, and Angela Perez Baraquio shattered glass ceilings by being the first Asian-American, the first Filipino-American, and the first teacher to win the Miss America 2001 title. More recently, Nina Davuliri became the first Indian-American Miss America, but she faced racial backlash after her crowning. Davuliri is currently producing a documentary that addresses colorism and the pressure for skin lightening.
Don’t Call Me Dollface
Miss Ohio brought back ventriloquism to the stage in 2014 when contestant Mackenzie Bart and her puppet Roxy sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” of Mary Poppins fame.
Miss New York Kira Kazantsev found inspiration in the film Pitch Perfect and opted to sing Pharrell’s “Happy” while turning over red cups onstage.
A Flood of Applause
Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2019, used the televised platform to call for political action against the Flint water crisis. “From the state with 84 percent of the U.S. fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan,” Sioma said in her introduction.
A Historic Triple Crown
Three African-American women won Miss USA, Miss America, and Miss Teen USA for the first time ever, with Miss North Carolina Chelsie Kryst, Miss New York Nia Franklin, and Miss Teen Connecticut Kaleigh Garris all taking home the crown for their respective titles. Miss USA Kryst also used her platform to speak up for #MeToo and #TimesUp, citing her legal expertise as an attorney for the support of movements that foster safer workplace environments.
Stay tuned this December for the Miss America 2.0 pageant, which is sure to bring more memorable moments.
Miss America 2020, Thursday, December 19, 8/7c, NBC