Handle Serious On-Stage Questions with Dignity and Diplomacy
Sometimes, the emcee questions may focus in a far more serious direction, instead. By the time contestants have made it to the semi-finals and judges are really focusing in on how each young woman would appear as the titleholder, the master of ceremonies may delve a little deeper and ask a finalist to discuss an obstacle she had to overcome in her life… and on live television or before a live audience!
During the Miss 1992 Miss World-America Pageant, the eventual winner, Florida’s Sharon Beldon, was asked how she had handled growing up as an orphan. She neither sugar-coated her experiences nor manipulated for sympathy votes:
“From a very young age, I had to be very independent and I am a very strong person. I just knew that I had to deal with things and that if I was going to be anything in my life, it was up to me. I am a firm believer that your attitude determines your altitude. I know that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today unless I went through what I’ve been through.”
Likewise, Dick Clark asked Miss Teen-Vermont, Charlotte Lopez, a foster child who had lived with six different families over thirteen years, how those experiences had affected her life. She described how she was being adopted as a near-adult and was writing a book, Lost in the System, about the failings of the U.S. foster-care system.
“It’s always easier for me to understand my life if I write it down. I’m lost in the system and I think there are a lot of kids that are.”
When she won the 1993 Miss Teen USA title, there wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.
Wait, isn’t that just playing on the judges’ sympathy? It could be. But, if the young lady deliberately presents it as a sob story, the judges are going to see right through it. While they may feel sorry for her, they’re not going to see her as being suitable to serve as the winner.
On the other hand, judges expect a young woman to express who she is as an individual. The experiences and hardships of any girl who has survived cancer, a near-fatal accident, the loss of her parents, or being thrust into foster care, are legitimate parts of her life. Sharing that background is merely expressing what she is about as an individual.
Remember, Be Diplomatic. Children May be Listening!
If the emcee asks about your life, don’t be afraid to mention the experiences that have made you who you are (within good taste; some subjects are too graphic for children who might be watching). Yet, don’t force that information into the conversation or attempt to manipulate the judges into sympathy votes.
Your background and experiences have made you who you are. If it is a subject that can be discussed on family television, express yourself honestly.
However, regardless of the subject you are asked about during live pageant interviews (humorous or serious) — never tarnish your image by calling judges’ attention to an unflattering quality.
What to Avoid:
- One national semi-finalist thought she was being cute describing her propensity for accidents – including the time she drove her car onto someone’s front porch while they were enjoying breakfast.
- Another girl joked about her five accidents at the pageant, including accidentally hitting three of her fellow contestants and gashing her leg falling down a flight of stairs.
- Still another contestant gave a blow-by-blow account of her medical problems with anemia, including blood counts.
Not exactly the kind of personal tidbits that create a winning image. When being interviewed on-stage, your words are your image. Use every opportunity you have to speak on-stage to sound like a winner.