The 2019 Miss America pageant airs on September 9, 2018, with Carrie Ann Inaba and Ross Mathews on hosting duty. The event airs from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT and 8-10 p.m. CT, with 51 contestants vying to be the winner. Last year’s winner, Miss North Dakota Cara Mund, will relinquish her crown to one of the hopefuls. Mund is an Ivy League Honors Graduate from Brown University and, leading up to Miss America, she was a Quality of Life finalist.
Following her reign as Miss America, Mund’s next move has been reported to be going on to law school at the University of Notre Dame. She previously voiced to the Miss America organization that she hopes to attain a Juris Doctorate.
Now, let’s get into the new candidates for the role of Miss America. Read on for the contestants to watch, along with preliminary competition winners from this past week.
Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras
Taveras was one of the contestants to win with the On Stage Interview during the preliminaries. According to Us Weekly, for her interview question, she was asked how Americans that are overseas should interact with foreigners. Her reply was that people need to know “we as Americans are supporting them and that we are there to help them.”
Taveras is actually the first black Miss Massachusetts and she told WGBH News that, “I was very dedicated to being the person to set that example. [When I was little] I wanted to see someone who was a queen, or a princess, who looked like me.”
Cosmopolitan has reported that Taveras has had a very tough upbringing, raised by a single mother, as her father was incarcerated. She also helped her mother financially, working nights as a janitor when she was in high school. She is also a survivor of sexual assault.
Miss Virginia Emili McPhail
During the preliminary competitions this past week, McPhail was one of the winners of the On Stage Interview. McPhail stood out with her interview when she was asked about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. She said that it “is a right you have. But it’s not about kneeling; it is absolutely about police brutality.” According to MissVA.org, McPhail’s main platform is ending hunger in the United States.
Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei
Vanderhei was one of the On Stage Interview winners during the preliminaries. Prior to winning Miss Wisconsin, Vanderhei had previously come in as first-runner up, so when it was announced that she won, Vanderhei told The Northwestern that, “It was overwhelming. Just a very emotional moment, and a long time coming. It’s the Cinderella story you hope for.”
Miss Florida Taylor Tyson
Tyson was one of the talent winners this past week, for the Miss America preliminary competition. When Tyson won the title of Miss Florida, she told The Ledger that she was looking forward to showing others that the state of Florida “has so much more to offer than just Disney World and the beach.” Tyson expressed that, “We have a thriving agriculture industry, booming, multicultural cities — I’d love to highlight off-the-beaten-path areas and everything Florida has to offer.”
Tyson is a talented pianist. The bio on her personal website describes her accomplishments, stating that, “A classically trained pianist since the age of 4, Taylor earned a spot on National Public Radio’s, From the Top as the youngest pianist from Florida. As a high school freshman, she became a member of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Young Artist Program, where she studied chamber music. She was chosen to perform as part of the Academie Pianistique Internationale in Aix-en-Provence, France to receive instruction from Van Cliburn winner Vladimir Viardo. Taylor was selected as one of fourteen pianists internationally to participate in Boston University’s summer intensive program at Tanglewood. In addition to performing with prominent Florida orchestras, Taylor has performed throughout the country as a soloist. ”
Miss Indiana Lydia Tremaine
Tremaine won in one of the talent portions for this week’s preliminary competitions. She won the talent category by singing Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” saying she likes singing lyrics about getting knocked down and picking yourself back up, according to WTHR. She also said that she was previously told she could never be Miss America because of her body type. Now, she says she’s more comfortable in her skin than ever.
Miss Louisiana Holli Conway
Conway was a talent winner during the preliminaries this week, with her talent as a vocalist. She is a theater graduate from Northwestern State University and she actually told The News Star that she hadn’t planned on competing in pageants. She explained that people encouraged her to participate as entertainment, but her response was this, “I’m just like, ‘I’m an athlete, I don’t do pageants. I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know how to do a pageant. I’m just not — ‘ Long story short, they were just really persistent.”
Holli Conway gets her athletic skills from her father, Hollis, who is the assistant director for diversity, leadership and education for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Athletics Department, as reported by NOLA. He actually won two Olympic medals for the high jump.
Miss West Virginia Madeline Collins
According to The Daily Beast, contestant Collins had a lot to say about our country’s controversial president during the preliminaries. She said that Donald Trump is our nation’s “biggest issue”. Collins was asked on stage about what she thought was the most serious issue facing the U.S.A. is today. Her reply was, “Donald Trump is the biggest issue facing our country today. Unfortunately he has caused a lot of divide in our country, and until we can trust in him and the choices that he makes for our country, we cannot become united.”
Miss Arkansas Claudia Raffo
Raffo is this year’s winner of the Quality of Life Awards. Recently, Raffo was asked about how she felt about all the changes implemented in this year’s competition. In an interview with NWA Online, Raffo actually said that when she heard about the elimination of the swimsuit segment, “I was sad at first because I’ve benefited from swimsuit. Really we want Miss America 2.0 to be very well-spoken; you’re going to see a lot of public speaking on the Miss America stage. … Instead of evening gown, we’ve changed it to an evening wear competition.”
She also said that when it comes to all the new changes in the organization, “What I have held on to the most throughout this whole process is that the core values of our system haven’t changed — and that’s scholarship and service. My platform is still umbilical cord donation, and I’m still going to get to travel around the state of Arkansas and promote that. … And scholarship, because of Miss Arkansas, I’ve paid off my undergrad at Arkansas State University and have three years of pharmacy school paid off.”
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