It was an ordinary Sunday night in August 2019. I was at my boyfriend’s Jersey City apartment and scrolling through Instagram. I ran across an ad, requesting applicants for the 2020 Miss New York USA pageant. I had watched pageants and Toddlers & Tiara’s with amusement, but I always knew that I was not a pageant girl.
Intrigued by the ad, I clicked on it and learned that there was no height or weight requirement, no prior pageant experience needed, and the age cutoff was 27. I smirked on the couch as I texted my mom. When my boyfriend asked why I was laughing, I told him about the ad, and he said, “I’m not saying you’re not pretty enough, but you’ll get on stage, burst out laughing, then fall on your face.” Challenge accepted.
I applied when I returned to my Manhattan apartment that evening. The application asked for contact information, my age, and a photo.
I expected to never hear from them.
Early Tuesday afternoon, I received a text from a Miss New York USA recruiter, asking to schedule a fifteen-minute phone interview. I was shocked to have been contacted and quickly LinkedIn stalked the recruiter to make sure it was legit.
Within two hours of being contacted, I was on the phone for my 15-minute interview. The interviewer asked questions such as:
- What do you like most about the state of New York?
- Where do you work or go to school?
- Have you ever competed in a pageant?
- Who do you consider to be a role model?
While she was aloof during the interview, her vibe quickly changed at the end, when she said, “It was so great speaking with you. We think you’re a beautiful girl, and we were all really excited about your application! You’ll know if you’re a state finalist by the end of the day tomorrow.” I was shocked not only by the way the conversation changed, but also how this sounded so promising.
Several hours after, I texted the interviewer, It was great speaking with you today! I’m excited about this opportunity and look forward to hearing from you tomorrow. She responded with, Same here. Good luck (fingers crossed emoji).
The next day at work was busy, but I checked my email when I had a chance. I had to run an errand at the end of the day, so as I was waiting for the elevator, there it was – an email with the subject, Congratulations From Miss New York USA / Miss New York Teen USA
I had 10 days to make a decision.