The dresses, the interviews, the cover shots, but most of all—the responsibility! Ever since she was in high school, media studies senior Jacqueline Williams has participated in beauty pageants around California for the past six years. She first began her winning streak by becoming Miss Northern California Teen Hostess in 2005. Most recently, Williams fought for the crown in the Miss Bay Area/Miss Golden Coast (Center Stage Pageants) and won.
From an interview and personal style competition to evening gown and swimsuit, Williams put herself out there this past month with confidence and pride in order to represent the Bay Area. The Miss Bay Area/Miss Gold Coast pageant was held on March 14, 2010. “I was very excited to have won!” she said. “I have worked very hard to prepare myself for this pageant and winning the crown was a testament to the saying ‘hard work pays off.’” Although all pageants share certain similarities, this pageant incorporated “Personal Style” along with evening gown, swimsuit and interview. Personal Style is where the contestants reflect their personality through an outfit of their choice.
In order to achieve the best possible results, Williams hired a coach to train her to walk right and talk right. Williams has known her pageant coach for about two years; she met him at the Miss California USA pageant. At this point, Williams considers him a part of her family. “He is a very nice man and I actually ask him to be tough on me because I know that that’s what I need to accomplish my personal best and win.” Mostly, Williams’ coach practices mock interviews with her to prepare her for the questions of the judges, but Williams must also improve her stage presence by walking around her home with excellent poise, a smile on her face, and expressing her confidence while maintaining energy and a sense of fun.
The price of participating in pageants can be high. The financial responsibilities for a pageant are all up to the competitor. Usually, mandatory registration fees range from $350 to $1500. Another factor includes dresses. Custom designed dresses such as the ones Williams usually wears cost more than regularly-purchased ones. Williams said that pageant weekend is another couple hundred for flights, hotels, and tickets for friends and family to come see the pageant.
Williams, whose platform is Bay Area Youth Homelessness, said, “I intend to go around the Bay Area and speak to different organizations about the issue surrounding youth homelessness, such as churches and schools. I’ll also be hosting fundraisers and making appearances for the organization.” Williams was first introduced to this non-profit organization through her internship with Forbes Magazine in Burlingame, Calif. Of the organization, Williams explained, “I started learning more about the cause and through research found that a statistic proved that the majority of children who drop out of school do it because they have a lack of self-esteem due to inadequate clothing. I found this statistic shocking and it truly touched my heart. My parents have raised me to believe that good education is the one thing in this world that no one can ever take away from you and it is because of this that I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children.”
In fact, for the past year, Williams has teamed up with the organization My New Red Shoes and became a spokeswoman for them. In support of quick action for her cause, Williams recognizes the importance of My New Red Shoes’ impact on the homeless and low-income children in the Bay Area. My New Red Shoes has dressed over 4,600 children for their first day of school since 2006. For this school year alone, My New Red Shoes has provided brand new clothing to 2,119 children from San Jose to San Francisco for their first day of school. The organization provides children with $50 gift cards to Old Navy, new shoes and handmade book bags. Williams strongly supports this organization and asks for the community’s support too.
There is a walk-a-thon for My New Red Shoes on April 18 in Burlingame. She is also doing an April 3 fundraiser in Los Gatos, Calif., where, she said, “I will be speaking on behalf of My New Red Shoes about the issues regarding youth homelessness. At this event we will also be making hand-sewn bags for the children in local shelters,” she said. Alongside her devotion to My New Red Shoes, Williams is also a weekly volunteer for Voyager Daycare Program at the San Jose Family Shelter.
Williams said she was very nervous at her first pageant, but now feels like competing comes easily for her. As an optimist, Williams said, “You learn that whatever happens happens, and the most important thing is to just have fun while you are doing it.”
In the future, Williams sees herself participating in more pageants. The next one on the agenda for her is Miss 2010 CA Gold Coast, which takes place in July.
After winning the Miss Northern California Teen Hostess in 2005, she followed that by winning Miss Los Gatos Teen in 2006, Miss San Francisco International in 2008, and Miss San Francisco USA in 2009, which allowed her to compete in the Miss California USA pageant against ninety-five contestants. From these, Williams has received a $500 scholarship along with various prize packages, including photo shoots and wardrobes.
Williams continues to participate in pageants becauseof the people. “I’ve made a lot of good friends. It’s definitely something that gets you involved in the community and opens your eyes to what is happening in the world.”
For more information on the My New Red Shoes walk-a-thon, visit: http://mynewredshoes.dojiggy.com
To attend the April 3 fundraiser, email Jacqueline_Williams@ymail.com.