This weekend, I was fortunate enough to watch the Miss America pageant live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Admittedly, the pageant circuit only became of interest to me weeks ago when I became caught up andÂ completely enamored with a marathon ofÂ Little Miss Perfect; a WEÂ show that revolves around baby pageant contestants and their road to the crown. Tonight, I had the opportunity to fast-forward years ahead and observe theÂ victory of 22-year-old Caressa Cameron, Virginia’s third contestant ever to be crowned, before my very eyes. And I couldn’t be happier for her.
Caressa shone throughout the show, but it was during the subsequent press conference that I went from cheering for her in the stands to viewing her as a beacon of hope for my generation of young women.
Here are five reasons why we should all keep an eye on Caressa in 2010:
5. Her rendition of “Listen,” one of many hits from the acclaimedÂ film Dreamgirls, had me in tears. The talent portion of the evening may have very well been her winning ticket to securing a much fawned over public position.
4. Caressa’s platform is much more than a publicity ploy. Her family started a foundation for AIDS research after losing her uncle to the deadly disease.Â As the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Fighting the AIDS Crisis with Education and Support (FACES) Project, you can count on her to continue her crusade against AIDS by using her position to educate people of all ages on prevention and acceptance of thoseÂ afflicted with the disease.
3. She very politely turned down a third (or fourth, or fifth) inquiry from Robin Leach to entertain the questions of lesser-known personalities. She did, however, direct her attention back to Leach once heÂ had patiently waited forÂ the talking-stick he was vigilant about keeping.
2. She can catch a football. I SEEN IT. She’ll be making an appearance at the Superbowl this year, singing the National Anthem (have tissues handy, the girl’s pipes turned my black heart into a mushy pile of sentiment).
1. During her post-victory speech,Â Caressa was asked what advice she had for young women in her shoes aspiring to be the next Miss America. She said she would tell them to never give up. She explained that there came a point when she didn’t know what more she could do to secure the slot of Miss Virginia. When asked how she stepped it up a notch to getÂ to this stage of the game, she quoted the movie Any Given Sunday: “On any given Sunday you’re gonna win or you’re gonna lose. The point is – can you win or lose like a man?” Upon receiving the title of runner-up several times, she didn’t go home and adjust her personality to reflect what the judges wanted to see. She waited until they were able to recognize what she has to offer. And tonight, that patience paid off.
Stay tuned for exclusive pictures and video of the gracious Caressa post-win.