By Sandahl Taylor, Mrs. Pennsylvania America 2018
My personal journey through pageantry was not an “easy” one. I competed for the title of Mrs. Pennsylvania America three times in a row. Now, I had competed for a lot of other different titles throughout my life from bikini competitions, modeling competitions, sports, and yes pageantry. However, it was not until May 6, 2018, that I actually “captured the crown.” It was one of the best nights of my life. Not just because I had finally won after several attempts, but because of my perseverance and determination up to that point.
The world of pageantry became more about the ride for me rather than the destination. I was given opportunities to inspire others, give back to our communities, and best of all… better myself. THIS is what kept me coming back. And now, I am going to share with you my 7 secrets to winning the crown when re-competing:
1) Learn From Last Year: Request a copy of last year’s video, and if possible scores. Some pageants sell DVDs, or even have the video on You Tube. This will enable you to watch the video and see things from the audiences/ judges view. If your pageant director will discuss or allow you to view your scores, this can give you an idea on areas you might need to improve on…. Or even something you may not of thought about.
Now I must warn you, DO NOT get emotionally caught up in the score itself. You may want to see if you can get the feedback ( if there is any from the judges). KEEP in mind: Different Day, Different Judges, Different Scores means a Different Outcome.
2) Learn Your Pageant Mission: Again. Pageantry is a job and the judges are there to find the best candidate for the job. So go back to the organization’s mission statement and find out the duties it entails to be the Queen. For example here is our organization’s mission: The Miss PA for America and Mrs. PA America publicly recognizes women, living in the state of Pennsylvania, who have obtained personal, professional, and community achievements.” So, now I knew I needed to show the judges I had been successful in these areas as described above. For you, make a chart and write down the things you have been successful at. See how they intertwine with the mission statement. If you are lacking success in some areas, say community service, make a plan to go out and achieve success by volunteering at a non-profit. Your ultimate goal is to give the judges supported facts as to why YOU are the best woman for the job.
3) Get Financial Help- Take care of your financial commitment up front. Yes, you want to raise the money through your community to ease the cost, however, if you don’t pay your contestant fee, you can’t compete, which defeats the whole purpose. I have seen so many girls go and buy dresses and get headshots done and have yet to pay their full contestant fees. It does not make sense to do this. Handle your core financials first After you get the contestant fee paid, reach out to EVERYONE you know to help you re-coup your contestant fee cost and to also help with other expenses such as shoes, hair, makeup, dresses, etc. People love to help other people on a winning journey and you are already a winner because you are making this happen for yourself!
4) Get Organized- Once you enter, you usually get a draft of the timeline and agenda from your director. Make a list of important dates such as program ad deadlines, bio deadlines, ticket purchase deadlines, etc. My family and I synced our calendars with Google drive so that we could all stay on top of things. Book your hotel if you need one. I recommend using trip insurance just in case there is a change in the pageant schedule. Now, you know what the organization is looking for, you know what you need (swimsuit? evening gown? Costume? etc.) and when you need them by. Next, start on paperwork. Ask a former queen or hire a coach to look over your paperwork. Your paperwork is not only what the judges see, it's your most valuable tool for preparation. Essentially it’s the answers to the test, meaning most of the time the judges will ask you questions based off of that, so it you take the time to think about what to put on there, you’ve already done half the work!
5) Get Support- Get your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers involved. Pageantry is all about serving others and working together to better the community. So look to your community for help from sponsors to cheerleader at the pageant to even help with your hair. ASK, ASK, ASK, and always have a back up plan.
6) Stay Healthy- Being a heart health advocate. I can not stress the importance of self care. Now is the time you get an excuse to take time for yourself. Eating right, working out , getting pampered, getting your check ups… really take this time to learn just how much you can do to better yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.
7) Get More Confident- You did the work, you put in the time. Be your authentic self when you are on that stage. It’s about you. NOW SHINE….. And when you do those things you come out a winner every time.
About the Author
Sandahl Taylor is Mrs. Pennsylvania America 2018. She touts the platform “Heart Health Awareness” with an emphasis of “Heart Health at Any Age”. She chose this platform for several reasons. Not only did her father, a US Navy veteran suffer from a heart attack and stroke, she learned she too had a heart condition herself at the age of 28. Sandahl has already made huge strides in her platform and is planning on continuing her efforts with the American Heart Association near her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and throughout the State.
Sandahl will crown her successor on April 6, 2019 at the Ware Center in Lancaster, PA. Tickets are on sale at this link.