Monday, November 29, 2010

Return to the Capitol.

But this time for something different. This weekend, I went up to Albany with my 2005 Miss NY sister Kandice Pelletier to cheer for Marina Montes (2nd RU Miss NY 2009) in Miss NY USA. Not knowing exactly what the "crown etiquette" was, I emailed Kim Bass, the executive director to ask. She was so excited to have me there, in crown and sash, announced from the VIP section of the audience. The producer introduced me by saying "Who said the Hatfields can't talk to the McCoys? We are honored to have with us Claire Buffie, Miss New York who will compete in Miss America at the Planet Hollywood January, and I think it's on ABC!"  So it was wonderful to have the full pitch about Miss America and to be recognized with such high regard from the USA pageant.

When just one girl stands alone with a sash stating Miss New York or Miss NY USA, the general public doesn't necessarily know the difference, but when you see the two right next to each other, people are able to recognize that there are two representatives in two separate organizations and it really gave me an opportunity to explain some of the differences to interested contestants. I talked with one family whose daughter is an amazing dancer and she just never knew how to get into MAO-did not know about locals, requirements or eligibility, so she did USA. Of course I was delighted to fill her in :)

Kandice Pelletier, Samantha, 2nd RU Miss NY Teen USA, and me
The competition was interesting--definitely different than Miss America! A pageant is a pageant; we all know that it's subjective and unpredictable, but wow! You have to really stand out and shine to make it on the NY USA runway because it goes by in a flash. I can't imagine judging it. Marina looked unbelievable and just the best I've ever seen her. The top 20 in both Miss and Teen were full of surprises, with a fun story that both 1st RU Teen and 1st RU Miss were sisters! Congratulations to Lisa Drouillard, Miss NY Teen USA, and Amber Collins, Miss NY USA! Also congrats to Kandice for the success of her girls competing (pageant consulting) Lisa (Teen winner), Samantha (2nd RU Teen), Christina, Angelina and Jackie (all Top 20 Miss)!

It was a wonderful weekend with Kandice that reminded me of what a sisterhood state titleholders and Miss America contestants have in general. Before Miss NY this year, I had never met Kandice (MNY 2005) or Jessica Lynch Renzi (MNY 2003), yet in the past few months, they have both supported me in such fantastic ways by attending fundraisers, housing me upstate, and setting aside time to give pointers on my performance at Miss NY. Leigh-Taylor Smith (MNY 2008) is not only my best friend, but has led my preparation for Miss America, and along the way girls including Kate Marie Grinold DC 2008, Hannah Kiefer VA 2007, Faith Jenkins LA 2003, Erika Grace Powell SC 2005, Sarah Wiley Goude IN 2004, many from the Class of 2010 and multiple Miss Americas have offered their encouragement, sat in on mock interviews and even taken me away from the preparation to find balance with some fun! The women you meet through this organization just "get" each other in an inexplicable way. Therefore the support system and network of knowledge and experience is expansive. I cannot wait to pay it forward as these amazing women have done for me.

And since about seven people have now sent various articles about Davina Reeves, Miss NY USA 2010, jumping on the Miss USA float, I'll quickly address. I heard it first from her when I got to spend a bit of time with her this weekend as it hit the papers. Per our conversation, her intention was one I can agree with: the importance of recognizing that an organization is not only the ONE girl with the national title, but that there are titleholders from every state. And we don't hate each other as a result of "losing" a pageant. This is a perception I've tried to change by inviting local Miss NY titleholders to do appearances with me. We need to show that Brooklyn and Watertown and Albany and Manhattan are represented by young women as well. Of course, I always encourage the respect of an invitation and if she did not have one, I would have worked to organize that with the higher-ups before showing up if I were her. I'm thankful that Miss America has stressed their open door between state contestants and executive directors and the national office for questions. And that's all I'll say about that :)

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