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Miss California Night 1 Preliminary Winners

Sarell Diamond Sarah Dahdouh Nikki Holbrook

Miss California begins preliminary competition

Nikki Holbrook Miss Barbary Coast

Miss Barbary Coast Nikki Holbrook entertains with Edward Grieg's “Concerto in A Minor”

Pianist wins first-night talent award

Miss California and Miss California's Outstanding Teen kicked off the 2018 competition Wednesday at the William Saroyan Theatre in downtown Fresno. Taking home the Miss California Preliminary Talent Award for the Beta Group and a $500 scholarship sponsored by the Fresno/Clovis Visitors and Convention Bureau is Miss Barbary Coast Nikki Holbrook. Nikki performed Edward Grieg's “Concerto in A Minor” on the piano.

 

Sarell Diamond, Miss Hollywood

Miss Hollywood Sarell Diamond in swimwear by Kandice Pelletier

Tie in fitness competition

Tying for the Miss California Preliminary Lifestyle and Swimsuit in Fitness award for the Alpha Group are Miss Hollywood Sarell Diamond and Miss San Francisco Sarah Dahdouh. Each wore custom swimwear designed by Kandice Pelletier Swimwear, and both women will receive a $300 scholarship sponsored by the Preliminary Pageant Association. This is the final year for Miss California contestants to compete in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit as the competition will be retired beginning with Miss America on September 9.

Sarah Dahdouh Miss San Francisco

Miss San Francisco Sarah Dahdouh in the Lifestyle and Fitness competition

This evening in Miss California competition, the Alpha Group will compete in On Stage Question, the Beta Group will compete in Swimsuit & Evening Wear categories, and the Gamma Group will compete in the Talent competition. The competition will begin directly after completion of the teen preliminary. Catch all the action via our live stream at MissCalifornia.org/live, brought to you by Nexstar Broadcasting, CBS 47 Fresno, and Live Light Technologies.

Photos courtesy of Doug Hikawa

 

How I Laughed My Way To Miss Placentia

“Always find a reason to laugh. It might not add years to your life but it will add life to your years.”

Growing up I was always a shy kid who was nervous when it came to making new friends. Through trial and error I found the best way to make new friends was to say a joke out loud and wait to see who laughed. Making people laugh is a great ice breaker. Once I knew who laughed at my jokes it was much easier to approach them to talk about other things.

Miss Placentia Bella Vino Comedy SportzAs time went by I used laughter and jokes to get me through all kinds of changes in my life. Especially when I moved from my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada to Yorba Linda, California. I was 9 years old and I had a new school, a new house, and a new audience of people waiting for a good laugh. All through elementary and middle school I was the kid who was always telling stories making people laugh. Later I found that even if I wasn’t using my joking to break the ice, making people laugh made me feel good. Time goes by so quickly, I blinked and before I knew it I had laughed my way all the way to High School!
During club rush my freshman year, I saw roughly a million different clubs on school, or at least that’s what it felt like. There was one club that really piqued my interest called Comedy Sportz. I had never heard of this before but it seemed this club was made perfect just for me! It was an improv comedy team that played against each other to compete for points and laughter. Basically, this was a club based on things I had done my whole life! I was so curious about it that I went to the first show they put on. After a night of laughter, popcorn, and some really ridiculous games I think it’s safe to say that I was hooked. Hooked enough to go to every match I could for the next two years. It was hilarious and entertaining, but I was not sure if I could do comedy in front of a huge audience like that. When junior year came along I finally decided to take the plunge and join the team.

Bella-Vino-Miss-PlacentiaThe first day of practice we learned the basics of improv and we played an unimaginable amount of high energy games to get our creative juices flowing. The first day had ended and I wanted to quit the team immediately. I was so intimidated at how talented these people were and how they seemed to be just as energetic and funny off the stage as when they were performing. It was my turn to give a pun to all the players and the only thing that was coming to my head was what I was having for dinner that night or if I left my curling iron plugged before I left this morning. It was easy to be funny when I wasn’t really trying but it is crazy how trying to be funny, suddenly makes you a million times less funny.

Although I went home wanting to quit, I knew I had committed to the team. I went back to every practice after that determined to make it better than the one before. In what felt like no time at all I was cleared to play for my first match. I was so nervous, but I knew that I was prepared and I had a whole team of friends supporting me. The match was amazing and I did really well. I made a marked improvement after every match. So much so that I was awarded the Most Improved Player Award at the end of the year banquet.

Miss Placentia Bella VinoComedy Sportz has been so much fun for the past two years and through the silliness and laughter I have learned some really important life lessons. On the morning of my interview with the Miss Placentia judges I was confident that I could answer questions quickly and creatively and of course make them laugh! When I came out of the interview the girls who waiting to go next asked what was going on in there because they could hear the laughter all the way out in the lobby! As I had done in the past I used laughter as a great ice breaker and felt I had made a great first impression with judges.

They say “Laughter is the best medicine”. As Miss Placentia 2018, I look forward to a year filled with fun and laughter. I am so excited for the opportunity that the Miss America Program has given us to come together, make new friends and compete at Miss California. I look forward to the new friends, new adventures, and new hilarious stories to tell!

Vertical Fitness Changed My Life- Miss Sacramento County

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyIn June of 2016 I was trudging through life day by day. I worked 12 hour days managing a bakery and rarely had energy to do anything outside of work. I had gained weight and was overall unhappy with myself. I tried going to the gym, but after working from 4:30 am to 4:30 pm and fighting through traffic for over an hour to get home, I could rarely muster the will power. When I could barely shimmy my favorite loose-fitting jeans over my hips I realized it was time to do something.

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyA friend told me about Vertical Fitness Studio which offers classes in pole, aerial silks, and lyra (aerial hoop) and said it’s a great workout that is also incredibly fun. In my mind, it was impossible for working out to be fun, but I decided to give it a go nevertheless.

I’ll never forget my first class; it was an introduction to pole class and everyone in the studio immediately felt like family. There were women who had been clients for years and welcomed me with the same warmth as they did their fellow veterans. I had an amazing experience and surprised myself with my own strength. I decided to come back the next day and the next and soon it became a part of my regular routine. After 30 days of classes I felt better than I ever had, had muscle definition in places it had never been, and had a whole new group of friends who encouraged me every step of the way.

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyWhen I decided to compete in the Miss Sacramento County program it felt like the obvious choice for my talent. As you can imagine, when I brought up this idea there were many people who felt that it was not in my best interest due to the stigma of pole performers, but this is what fueled me even further to go for it. What most people don’t know is that in 2017 the Global Association of International Sports Federation granted pole sports “observer” status. This is the first step to becoming an Olympic sport. My goal is to continue to reduce the stigma against performers like myself and open peoples minds and hearts to realize that our passion and our art may look different than others, but it is just as powerful and incredible as any other.

My two year anniversary at Vertical Fitness Studio is quickly approaching and I continue to surprise myself with the things I have been able to accomplish. I am stronger than ever mentally, emotionally and physically. I will forever be grateful for having the courage to walk into the studio that first day, not knowing how much it would positively impact my life. I can’t wait to share my passion for my sport with all of you in June at the Miss California program.

The Science of Sound- Katie Wayland

 

An apprehension engine makes some of your favorite sounds in scary movies!

An apprehension engine makes some of your favorite sounds in scary movies!

I’m Katie Wayland, Miss Orange Coast, and I work in Audio Production! My interest for this field began non-traditionally as a child who simply loved scary movies. Sound design is truly an art form, as evidenced by one of my favorite tools: “The Apprehension Machine”, or “The Nightmare Machine”. This was a custom-built instrument by composer Mark Korven for the purposes of creating those haunting noises in all of your favorite scary movies. Instruments like this (homemade machines creating indecipherable noises) are what make this such an accessible craft.

 

Glory Days at Orange Lutheran

Glory Days at Orange Lutheran

I began fiddling (pun intended) with unique instruments at a young age, including my recorder, accordion, miniature harpsichord, xylophone, vibraphone, marimba and glockenspiel. I would set up microphones facing stereo speakers to amplify and manipulate sound, mostly waging psychological warfare on my parents and siblings with my now worn down “Elvis: The Greatest Hits” CD.

I am currently an audio editor at Wayland Productions, employed by my extremely talented (and patient) brother, Kc Wayland! (It’s not nepotism if you complete the internship program.) Kc got his start in animation, working his way to being a well-respected writer, producer, engineer, and educator. We began working together when I wrote the opening score to his audio drama (We’re Alive: A “Zombie” Story of Survival) at the age of 15 using the most rudimentary of tools to create a haunting vaudeville/post-apocalyptic melody using my out-of-tune piano, and a broken guitar.

Creating in the studio

Creating in the studio

I am so grateful for the scholarships I have earned at the local and state levels of the Miss America Organization, which have funded my entire education; from community college all the way to studying Independent Music Production in the extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles!

With my background in music, and love of technology, this career is a natural fit. It is at the intersection of STEM and the arts, giving me the perfect niche to utilize two skill sets, and create unique sounds every single day.

Nothing But Gratitude and Goals- Miss North Bay

Molly Crawford Miss san diego, Molly Crawford San Diego State University

Courtesy of Hart Photography

I am an undergraduate, full-time student at San Diego State University studying Journalism and Media Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations, and a minor in Dance. I would not have had the means or courage to pursue my dream of higher education had I not taken the leap to compete in my first Miss America’s Outstanding Teen local pageant in 2010. I’m proud of who I am and who I am becoming, and the Miss America Organization is an integral part of that.

Molly Crawford Miss North BayOne of the most invigorating parts of being a local titleholder is attempting to live each day in embodiment of the Four Points of the crown: Scholarship, Style, Service and Success. College is one of the most challenging yet exciting goals I have ever set for myself. I take pride in my status as a student, remain eager to learn and be successful in my academic career. Nothing feels better than giving your school the scholarship dollars this organization provides. My personal style has evolved fluidly throughout my journey. It has become representative of where I’ve been, where I am at currently, and where I am pointing my arrow next. I am firm believer in the influence of everyday surroundings on the way you style yourself. My style projects an image of me that is representative of my adolescence in the Bay Area and my early adulthood in San Diego. My platform is called Perfect Imperfection: Body Positivity and Respect. I created this movement to inspire a culture of respect and positivity when we talk about our bodies and their differences, particularly among children and teenagers. Serving my community in this way has allowed me to contribute to the Body Positive movement. Success is something I strive for in every part of my life with each day I pursue my dreams.  

Courtesy of Hart Photography

Courtesy of Hart Photography

If I could add a fifth point to the crown, it would be Sisterhood. Beyond the scholarship and the opportunity for personal development, the Miss America Organization provides a place for people to connect and create long lasting relationships with some of the world’s best people. I have found some of the most wonderful friends in the contestants, volunteers and sponsors I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know. I have found so many people who inspire me to push myself, be kind and to remain grounded in my purpose. I am an advocate of empowering others due, in large part, to the people I have met through the Miss America Organization. The sisterhood is strong, influential and so very real.

Molly Crawford Dancing Miss North BayBeing a Miss America local titleholder affords women endless, incredible opportunities that are extraordinarily unmatched. There are obvious perks, like the scholarship money each contestant is awarded, the chance to make a difference in our communities, and the ability to train professional, social and emotional skills in the field on a regular basis. “Adulting” is my favorite way to put it. This organization gives women scholarship money in exchange for the chance of a lifetime. I have spent the last seven years competing in this organization because my involvement in is directly tied to the accomplishments from all facets of my life.

I am honored to be Miss North Bay 2018. Being a Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador, and an advocate for body positivity and respect is an absolute dream come true that I am fully engaged in. I am diving into this year of service with gusto, courage and so many ideas I can’t wait to manifest. Follow me at @MissNorthBay on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with my journey!

A Thought on New Years Resolutions

23593572_1929946223934183_6161082933745066145_oAt the end of each year, we see a phrase inevitably being adopted by those around us: “new year, new me.” The yearly recaps posted on social media by friends and family nearly always come accompanied by a new set of goals for the coming year. For example, last year I tried to give up chocolate to curb my chocoholic addiction once and for all… but anyone who knows me knows that wasn’t going to happen. 😉 (*types as I finish off the foot of my See’s chocolate Santa)

IMG_3041 2 (1)Admittedly, the last couple weeks I found myself scrolling past these multi-paragraph posts, feeling too busy with my crazy holiday schedule to take a break to read them. Over New Years while on vacation with friends, I had been focusing on my own resolution of being more present with those around me… and less with my face in my phone. So on the long plane ride home I realized I finally had the perfect opportunity to take the time to read those lengthy New Years posts that had been flooding my newsfeed the weeks prior.

After nearly two hours of reading, liking, commenting and adding loved ones’ thoughts to my own 2018 goals, I came to an eye-opening conclusion: Nearly every resolution I saw could somehow be linked to the ideals promoted by the Miss America Organization. I found this incredible because one of the most common questions I hear from pageant naysayers is how Miss America is still relevant today. Yet right on my screen were dozens of friends writing about how they were hoping to accomplish the same goals in 2018 that we as MAO titleholders set out for every year. This got me thinking… if all these resolutions are somehow linked to what we as titleholders strive to embody on a daily basis, then this idea helps validate what we’ve been promoting all along.  

So, my friends, I give you the Top 5 News Years resolutions in the U.S. … and how the Miss America Organization helps young women around the country achieve them: 

  1. Eat healthier/exercise more: One of the most well-known categories of the Miss America competition is Lifestyle and Fitness, or swimsuit. What many people are surprised to hear is how empowering this phase is to the contestants. For months, we work out, fuel our bodies with the healthiest foods and push ourselves to reach our fitness goals to walk on stage feeling more confident than ever. Every body is different, and the Miss America Organization embraces this. It’s not about who is the skinniest. It’s not about which contestant looks resembles a Victoria’s Secret model. Rather it’s about celebrating our individual commitments to leading healthy and active lifestyles… and feeling undeniably empowered in the process.  
  2. Read more: As local titleholders, we read A LOT: newspapers, books, news apps, anything we can get our hands on to stay informed about the world around us. We listen. We observe. And we formulate educated opinions to stand up for our beliefs and do our part to make a difference. We do this all not just to prepare for our 10-minute interview with the judges (where we can be asked anything from our knowledge of current events to questions about ourselves to our stances on hot topic world issues). Rather, we do this because as ambassadors for our communities and for this scholarship program, we know it’s our duty to be active citizens with courage of our convictions. We stand on stage with bright lights hitting our face, thousands of eyes on us, and television cameras broadcasting our every move to viewers around the country… and answer questions that could trip up even a seasoned politician. Every year, I can’t help but watch these women on stage and be incredibly impressed by their poise and intelligence in the face of pressure. 
  3. 24173150_1936946409900831_8934049533651548644_oLearn something new: As titleholders, we are constantly learning new things to improve and grow throughout our preparation for Miss California and year as local representatives. However, what we learn is unique to each woman as we propel through our personal journeys of self-improvement. For me, every phase of competition acts as a motivator to work on the areas of my life that I’d want to excel in whether I was competing or not. The organization encourages me to embrace my talents, be more involved in my community, stand up for causes I care about and act as a role model to the younger generation.
  4. Save money: While this is a New Years resolution I always am working to improve on (your girl is a sucker for a cute pair of shoes), competing in the Miss America Organization alleviates an incredible amount of financial burden. Why? Because the Miss America Organization is the world’s largest scholarship provider for women in the world. I’ve been so fortunate to have earned over $10,000 throughout my years competing to help fund my undergraduate degree at Duke University (Go Blue Devils!) and my upcoming Master’s at Northwestern. Miss America, Cara Mund, has earned $95,000 to help fund her degree at Brown. That’s truly incredible! And the best part is that you can compete on a budget and still be successful. My first year at Miss California’s Outstanding Teen in 2008, I bought my entire competition wardrobe at Forever 21 and on eBay. Last year, I had the help of my committee and some incredible sponsors to help a broke college girl feel like a million bucks on the Miss California stage. These sponsors and volunteers are the backbone of the organization and work tirelessly to help participants grow, learn and feel confident. 
  5. 19143879_1925144634426563_660941730986689294_o (1)Be nicer/kinder/more patient: Finally, what I appreciate most about the Miss America Organization is the sisterhood we share. The women I have met through this organization are some of the most encouraging, driven and ambitious women I have had the privilege of knowing. Their philanthropic hearts propel them to make a difference in their communities and be role models to everyone they meet. Through our platforms (mine is Alzheimer’s Awareness in memory of my grandma Mary Fran), we pinpoint our passions, devise marketable strategies to promote our causes, and follow through to make a difference. We project positivity and strive to make every person we encounter feel important. And that is always relevant.