Photo by Hart Photography – 2015 Miss California Bree Morse and Miss California’s Outstanding Teen Avery Grooms.
By Diana Giraldo, Reporter
The 49 Miss California and 47 Miss California Outstanding Teen contestants are competing in Fresno for the opportunity to be crowded at the 92 Annual, 2016 Miss California Pageant.
Beginning Tuesday, June 28 the contestants initiated the first stage of the preliminary competitions which will continue through Thursday, June 30.
The Miss California Pageant, which began in 1924, is dedicated to promoting the development of fundamental life skills within each participant’s life, according to the pageant. The pageant emphasises broadening the contestant’s knowledge of the world around them, verbal communication and interview skills, physical fitness and the opportunity to showcase their creative and performing talents.
“I feel that pageants are such a powerful way to get a woman’s voice out there,” said 2015 Miss California Bree Morse, 24, from Orange County. “Yes we know how to carry ourselves, and speak well in public but we are smart. We have an opinion and we can state it in a way that is not going to be offensive but we can get our point across. I think those are extremely valuable talents.”
During the preliminary competitions, Miss California contestants are scored on five appearances: the interview, talent, swimsuit, evening wear and onstage question.
In the 10 minute interview, contestants are asked about their accomplishments, goals, pop culture, politics and more. In the talent portion of the competition, contestants perform a 90 minute display showcasing their talents. The swimsuit competition is used to highlight the contestants’ commitment to total body wellness — mind, body and soul. During the evening wear competition, judges look for an overall sense of self esteem, grace, poise and beauty. For the onstage question, the contestants are given a question on the spot and are to show their extemporaneous speaking skills.
“In those events you really get to know your fellow contestants and a taste of what it’s like to be Miss California, like the constant going from one place to the next,” Morse said.
The Miss California’s Outstanding Teen scoring breakdown is based on four main stages; like the Miss California contestant they compete in interview and talent display. For the teens the on stage question is given in evening wear and instead of a swimsuit competition they have a physical fitness portion where they perform a brief fitness routine.
2015 Miss California’s Outstanding Teen Avery Grooms, an 18-year-old Clovis native who graduated in early June from Clovis North High School, said the personal growth she obtained throughout the year made her a more well-rounded person and increased her self esteem.
“You put yourself in all of these different phases of competition, different situations that you would not normally do, so you are out of your comfort zone but it improves you as a person,” Grooms said.
The pageant culminates for the teens on July 1, when 15 out of the 47 Miss California outstanding teens will compete for the crown, a minimum of $3,000 in scholarships and the opportunity to compete at the Miss America Outstanding Teen in Orlando, Florida.
Once Grooms passes on her crown to the 2016 outstanding teen, she plans to study communications in the University of Arizona.
The 2016 Miss California will be crowned July 2 and will qualify for the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The public is able to purchase tickets for each stage of the competition, which will be held at the William Saroyan Theatre, at MissCalifonria.org/Shop.
Before becoming Miss California, Morse competed in the pageant three times. She never thought about giving up.
“It’s not always easy,” Morse said. “There is part of you that is heart broken when it’s not you — anyone has that feeling when you don’t win a game or don’t get the grade you so badly wanted. But you have to know that it shouldn’t be something to discourage you, it should only motivate you further. Just do the best you can because I think you are your own biggest competition.”
The new Miss California will become a representation of contemporary, scholastically-driven, well informed women everywhere, and receives a minimum of $15,00 in scholarships, according to the pageant. Miss California becomes an advocate and the national spokesperson who travels to promote a platform of her choosing as well as the Children’s Miracle Network.
Morse, who graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing, plans use her scholarship to pay her student loans and is now looking forward to applying her talents as the Manager of the Children’s Miracle Network at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Morse said she only hopes to see the pageant grow in the following years and has a few words of encouragement for women wanting to compete in Miss California.
“Do not hesitate,” she said. “Don’t think that you can’t do it because you are not talented enough, or you’re not smart enough — no, just do it. There is no cookie cutter mold. There is no stereotypical pageant girl. A pageant girl is any girl.”