The 2018 Miss USA pageant finale airs ~tonight~ live on FOX from Shreveport, Louisiana, with 51 state titleholders fighting it out (well, not literally, although maybe actually a lil’ bit backstage?) for the win. And maybe also some cornbread? But in fact, there’s been a lot of competition already; over the past couple of weeks the contestants have already been through a veritable “boot camp,” showing off their best gowns, swimwear, and smarts in the preliminary rounds, as well as rehearsing for the big night to make sure nobody — gasp! — falls over onstage or anything.
Here, three of the beauty queens share excerpts from the diaries they’ve been keeping while prepping for the tiara-fest.
Miss Kentucky USA, Braea Tilford
Dear diary, This journey has been incredible, and so rewarding. I feel so in my element, surrounded by like-minded women who each seek for greater platforms to do what they love most. The days here in Shreveport have been non-stop — rehearsal, appearances, interviews here, video shoots there, dinner parties, more interviews, and more rehearsal. It’s like I’m already getting a taste of my new reality. It’s like a Miss USA boot camp. Who will fold? Who will survive?
Every night I think about 9 year-old Braea, or even Braea a year ago, and how much she’s grown. It is so amazing that I can be with 50 other beautiful, accomplished women and still feel like the most powerful person in the room. I am so in tune with who I am, and loving myself, that this hasn’t even been a competition against other women! These 9 days have been a coming out party for the Braea that I’ve worked so hard to become. *cues Diana Ross* I am so proud of you, B! We did it!
I’m so overwhelmed with emotion thinking about everything I’ve gone through—the days of uncertainty, chaos and confusion. It all makes sense now. It was to prepare me for moments like this. And now it’s time to make some noise, to shake things up, to change the game and inspire young girls everywhere who feel counted out, insecure or unworthy. Let’s do this.
Miss Maryland USA, Brittinay Nicolette
Dear Diary, It’s day #9 of Miss USA rehearsals, and I truly cannot believe how quickly our time here has passed. Today started extremely early, and I can’t lie, I am exhausted. For the past few days I have definitely been running off of pure adrenaline; pumping myself up for personal interview and then onstage preliminaries, but I think after today I’ll have crashed. I’m sure once I get onstage for finals night the excitement will take over again and I’ll be ready to go.
Onstage rehearsals have been such an eye opening experience; I had no idea how much work went into a live broadcast. There are cameras everywhere, so many technical professionals, and the on-air time is planned down to the second. I also can’t help but smile every time I think about the fact that I will get to share the stage with Lee Brice and 98 Degrees. Seriously, what an amazing opportunity! I grew up listening to 98 Degrees!
I felt amazing about my personal interview last week. I love to talk — in fact, I feel my best when I am public speaking. I was able to share with the selection committee my story of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and spoke about my career as a Transplant Coordinator for Organ and Tissue Donation. I hope they could see how genuinely important both of these issues are to me.
So honored to have been invited to Walk A Mile in Her Shoes this morning to support the Bernie House Domestic Violence Shelter. As a survivor of both Sexual Assault and Dating Abuse I can not describe how touched I was to see so many men get together, strap on high heels, and literally walk a mile through Annapolis in the rain. Thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough ? . . . #MissMarylandUSA #MissMDUSA #MissMDUSA2018 #MissUSA #MissUSA2018 #DomesticViolenceAwareness #WalkAMile #BerniesHouse #DVA #Annapolis #MeToo #Survivor #MenInHeels #RoadtoMissUSA #ConfidentlyBeautiful #LoneRedhead #TheGingerStandsAlone #BrittBlitz #BrittinayNicolette
After competing for my state title for 10 years, honestly I’m not completely sure how I feel about the preliminary competition. As much as I felt comfortable and confident, I have been building up this moment for years in my mind. I felt sad when it was over and couldn’t help but think, ‘all of those years of work, for just a few seconds?’ No matter how much time they would have given me on that stage, it never would have felt like enough. Now I am praying the selection members feel I am worthy of a few more minutes on that stage.
We have another long day of rehearsals and events tomorrow, so it’s time for self-tanner and bed. Still so surreal that I grew up to live out my childhood dreams. I am cherishing every moment.
Miss Florida USA, Genesis Davilla
Dear diary, Sorry I haven’t been able to write much since Miss USA pageant registration started. It’s been busy! The important selection committee interview was yesterday. I woke up early to get my look ready – I loved my day’s outfit: an asymmetrical white cocktail dress — on one side it’s a simple, fitted style, and on the other side, there’s a ruffled wing. I love the duality of it. It’s a metaphor of who I am: Afro-Latina and Afro-Caribbean; bi-cultural and bi-lingual; classic but with an edge.
As I was getting ready to leave, I looked myself at the mirror for one last time before meeting the committee who would be helping to determine the next woman to hold the Miss USA title. It was emotional; I was struck with a deep feeling of nostalgia. I looked so much like my mom Idalba. She wears white a lot. And I was also wearing my rosary; a precious gift given by my grandmother Luisa, in hopes for some ‘protection’ — though I’d almost left it back in my room. But even though celestial strength can’t go wrong in situations like this, I felt like I was ready for that stage and the competition.
Keep voting mis amores. Your last chance to help me secure a post in @missusa is today. Link is on my bio. Thanks to all the sponsors for making #theexperience possible. @innovatinghealthhaiti @SeeShreveportBossier @MargaritavilleBossierCity @CHIHaircare @SherriHIll @ThePerfectFace @VENUS @BOLDSunlessTans #teamflorida #missusa #missusa2018 #genesisdavila #missfloridausa #confidentlybeautiful #shreveport #missuniverse
The interview was a beautiful experience. It went beyond the traditional question and answer format; instead, it was a group of empowered women, looking to hear other stories of empowerment. Through dynamics like this, we are changing the face of pageantry.
When I was asked why my “abuelita,” a 78 years old woman, was my best friend, I almost started crying. I have (cautiously) volunteered the information that I am a 2nd generation product of single motherhood in my pageant questionnaire. I have been raised by both my mother and grandmother, two powerful women, and even though there is no doubt that I come from a household filled with strong women, my grandmother is the real queen.
As I am walking out of my interview, I saw my reflection in the mirror. The ruffles of my white dress are moving along as I walk through the hallway. I feel like dancing to some salsa music right now. I am energized; I am empowered.
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