One Miss America hopeful’s inspiring fight to end pediatric cancer

12 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Crisis at Miss America Pageant as ‘execs clash with head judge Vanessa Williams’ over apology for 1984 nude photo scandal.

They’ve never admitted this inside the Miss America organization, but the Vanessa Williams scandal is widely believed to have influenced the selection of Miss America 1984 — Miss Utah, Sharlene Wells Hawkes.

As the official music curator of the 2016 Miss America Pageant, Nick Jonas says it’s important to make it a “special night as possible for these amazing women competing.” Jonas will help select the music heard throughout much of the live ABC TV broadcast on Sunday, Sept. 13.PsychGuides.com, an educational website that provides information about mental health, tracked the evolution of Miss America’s body type over the past 95 years.One of the women competing to be the next Miss America has a long history of fighting pediatric cancer — even shaving her head as a high school junior to help the cause. The organizers had to figure there wouldn’t be any X-rated pictures of Wells, who was not only Miss BYU but the daughter of an LDS Church general authority. “Think It Up” (7 p.m., Channels, 2, 4, 5, 13): This fundraiser for education includes appearances/performances by Kristen Bell, Stephen Colbert, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Ryan Seacrest and Jessica Williams. “Masters of Illusion” (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): Magicians Ed Alonzo, Rick Thomas, Michael Grandinetti, Johnny Ace Palmer, Barry and Stuart, Les Arnold and Dazzle, and Michael Turco perform. “Arthur & George” (7 p.m., PBS/C. 7): Arthur and Woodie order their driver to “follow that carriage,” but aren’t expecting what they find. (Part 2 of 3) “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told” (7 p.m., Hallmark): Oliver gets shocking news from his estranged dad while he and his coworkers look for a bullied teen who’s supposed to get a lost letter from a soldier in Afghanistan. “Project Greenlight” (11 p.m., HBO): Thirteen contestants are chosen from a pool of thousands of aspiring filmmakers and travel to Los Angeles to meet the series’ judges. (Season 4 premiere) Today, Miss Iowa Taylor Wiebers laughs about the time she ditched her long blond hair as a teenager to bond with a young boy who had lost all his hair while fighting leukemia.

He’ll also provide commentary throughout the show, mostly through social media. (Also onboard for the program: former Miss America Vanessa Williams, who will return as the competition’s head judge.) “I first got the call about two months ago,” Jonas says. “They approached me about being involved in the show in some capacity. Older black women thought they’d never see it in their lifetime, and some people would cry,’ Vanessa told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Tuesday. 10 months into Williams’ reign, her former boss photographer Tom Chiapel sold nude pictures he’d taken of her in 1982 to Penthouse for $50K without her consent. ‘It was Miss America who’s really kind of untouched in that reality. And they knew that I had done some musical directing and creative directing for Demi Lovato before — her tour last year — so the idea came up to have me curate the music and create the atmosphere for the show.” “Strangely enough,” he says, “I’ve actually had a decent amount of experience with pageants at this point. But this year, don’t be content to simply snark on social media about the misplaced rhinestones, the current-events question fails or the troubled state of baton twirling. The chart shows that in 1990 the average BMI of the American woman was roughly about 24.5, while the average BMI of a Miss America winner was around 18.

Wiebers, 21, remembers watching a video in third grade about kids with cancer at a local hospital. “For some reason, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t fair,” she said. “As a 9-year-old, it lit a fire in me and it never went away. As PsychGuides points out, the pageant describes Miss America as a woman who “represents the highest ideals,” the pageant’s website reads. “She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. Every year, my friends compete to see who can predict the most Miss America finalists — or even Miss America herself — with small cash bets or bragging rights at stake. Miss America may seem like a randomly subjective beauty contest, but it operates like a cross between two of amateur gambling’s favorite competitions. Although, the very existence of the pageant itself has been argued to be problematic, some parts of the contest are more archaic than others — namely the swimsuit competition.

But to be here is surreal.” “There’s never been a Miss Iowa to be Miss America,” Wiebers added. “To be able to represent my state, and to be able to speak nationally … there’s nothing that would mean more to me than to be able to speak for all the kids who aren’t able to. I hadn’t actually thought of that yet, but I’ll give you credit if I do throw that in there. ‘Save the Best for Last’ is a classic.” (Billboard then related an example of how the song could be used during the evening gown portion of the show involving lots of flowing gowns while Williams looks on.) “Love that idea.”

Still, divining these factors can be mysterious for the average TV viewer who hasn’t done his homework, says Chris Saltalamacchio, a longtime coach for pageant contestants. “They listen to the talents or they watch the swimsuit walk and they think ‘She was good. Why didn’t she win?’” So who is going to win Sunday night? (The pageant, broadcast live from Atlantic City, N.J., on ABC, starts at 9 p.m. eastern.) Here’s how you can tell. You only get one shot at Miss America: No one is allowed to compete twice in Atlantic City, so you can’t place your bet on a Julianne Moore-type, virtually guaranteed her Oscar this past year after four losing nominations. But for most contestants, this ain’t their first rodeo: They’ve been slogging it out for years trying to win their state pageant, or perhaps have reached the upper ranks of Miss Teen or the tawdrier, sexier Miss USA — and now they’re trained killers with a hard, professional sheen.

As it happens, both last year’s winner, Idaho’s Kalie Wright, and first runner-up Jamie Lynn Macchia of New York, went on to clinch their state titles year and are competing for Miss America this year. Don’t be one of those amateurs who fills your ballot with Misses from the states where you’ve lived — especially if you hail from, say, the Dakotas and went to college in New Hampshire.

It’s a numbers game: Pageants are more popular in culturally conservative communities, and the larger the state, the more contenders for the state title — which means that Miss Texas, who beat out 57 other women for that crown, is probably a stronger competitor than, say, Miss Vermont, who faced only eight. (New England hasn’t produced a winner since 1933.) Meanwhile, Idaho hasn’t even had a top 10 finalist since 1971, which could bode poorly for Kalie. At the same time, New York and Oklahoma have together claimed five of the last 10 Miss Americas; and Louisiana, which has placed many finalists without scoring a win, is widely considered overdue. While it’s rare to win two preliminary contests, the last few women to do so ended up settling for runner-up status, and the last three Miss Americas came into the final night without a single preliminary win, because so many intangible things matter more like. . . From the first black Miss America — Vanessa Williams, 1983 — to the first deaf Miss America back in 1994, to the first to wear her diabetes insulin pump onstage in 1998, judges have often been captivated by the woman with the unique personal story.

Not always: Two years ago, Miss Kansas came in on a big wave of hype for being a National Guard member with visible tattoos; she didn’t make the top five. Still, someone like Jardas, who talks openly about her own battle with anxiety, can impress judges who are essentially looking to fill the job of America’s perkiest motivational speaker. There’s a legend that judges bestow wins on states that have suffered a grave recent tragedy — Miss Oklahoma in 1995, Miss Florida in hurricane-plagued 1992.

More typically we’ve seen judges fall for someone whose convictions, displayed in the on-stage interviews, reflect some national mood — like the AIDS advocates who won the title in the ’90s, or Miss New York Mallory Hagan, who seized the prize with a passionate argument against armed guards in schools, just a month after the Sandy Hook shooting. To that end, keep an eye on: Miss New Jersey Lindsey Giannini, who won a prize this week for her advocacy against texting while driving; and the aforementioned Miss South Carolina Daja Dial who — far from stepping lightly in political matters like most Misses — came out with a resounding cry at her state pageant to remove Confederate memorabilia from the state house. Judges love that, said Saltalamacchio: “She’s a strong personality, who is unapologetic for her views — but who can do it with discretion and be polite.” So what we’re really talking about here is . . .

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