June 30, 2014

My Week Judging Miss Virginia

Miss Virginia 2014 and Runners-Up (Copyright 2014 Julius Tolentino)

Miss Virginia 2014 and Runners-Up
(Copyright 2014 Julius Tolentino)

Last week I had one of the most fulfilling opportunities of my life…serving as a judge for the 2014 Miss Virginia Scholarship Pageant, a preliminary to the Miss America Pageant!  As such, I got to meet and get to know 26 of the most beautiful, charismatic and talented young women from across the state of Virginia.  I’ve judged several other similar competitions in the past, but this was by far the toughest and most meaningful.

Post-pageant afterparty with two contestants, Addison Walker and Savannah Lane.

Post-pageant afterparty with two contestants, Addison Walker and Savannah Lane.

As a former titleholder in the Miss Virginia system, it was especially fun (albeit a bit stressful) for me to be on the other side of the table.  The women that participate in this week-long competition must not only be attractive, which includes looking fabulous in a swimsuit, they must also be intelligent and well-spoken as evidenced in a private and on-stage interview; committed to a platform beneficial to society; and poised (ie: able to walk elegantly in an evening gown while connecting non-verbally with an audience).  As this is a part of the Miss America Organization, these ladies must also be able to showcase a talent.  This is where judging can get to be really tough!  We saw everything from seriously phenomenal baton-twirling, to Broadway stage-worthy singing, to classical piano performances.  One contestant had even worked with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater!

The winner, Courtney Garrett, performed an operatic classical vocal, “Parla Piu Piano” from “The Godfather”.  Her platform, “Defying Disabilities” centered on understanding and accepting the challenges people with disabilities encounter in everyday life.  She encourages people to become better educated and involved with the struggles of the disabled.  I wish her the best of luck at Miss Miss America!

Miss Virginia 2014 Courtney Garrett (Copyright 2014 Julius Tolentino)

Miss Virginia 2014 Courtney Garrett (Copyright 2014 Julius Tolentino)

As a bonus, I got to work with an incredible group of fellow judges, including a former Miss Texas, former Miss Louisiana and ABC7 Chicago news anchor Hosea Sanders, who I’m sure will be a lifetime friend!

Finally, I was thrilled to get to know Bobbie Eaks, who hosted the preliminaries and final show.  Bobbie is a 2-time Emmy Award nominated actress best known from her work on “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”, both on CBS.  She’s not only a wonderful actress, but also a fantastic singer and one of the nicest people around!

Attending the afterparty with Bobbie Eaks

Attending the afterparty with Bobbie Eaks

(Official pageant photos courtesy of Julius Tolentino Photography)

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