Many times young women utilize the Miss America Organization as a stepping stone towards their educational goals and an opportunity to grow as an individual while impacting the community around them, without a long term plan to continue competing. I recently caught up with a past, local teen within the Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen program, Rebecca Charles. She held the title of Miss Beliot’s Outstanding Teen and was extremely fun and compelling to watch on stage (I’m sure you remember her). Well if you’re wondering what she’s up to know and how her experience was in WIOT, you’ll just have to continue reading…
Name: Rebecca Marie Charles
Education: Rising junior at Pace University
Dream Job: Actress, politician, or travel blogger. I’m a very indecisive girl.
Favorite Color: Lavender
1) What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? After first being diagnosed with depression and later attempting suicide, I felt it was important for me to educate young people on mental illness and suicide. I wanted to be a voice for teens who were too afraid to speak for themselves or those who thought they were all alone or “abnormal.”
2) Tell us about your first MAO pageant. My first pageant was in 2013, competing for Miss Beloit’s Outstanding Teen.
3) What is/was your platform? Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention
4) What is your favorite phase of competition, why? My favorite phase of competition is interview. I love speaking to/meeting new people because I am a natural extrovert. Current events, for me, are so interesting to discuss and that really shows during interview. It’s also the best opportunity for me to let my genuine personality shine through.
5) Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? Scholarship. An education is a girl’s best weapon and I truly believe that.
6) What titles have you held? Miss Beloit’s Outstanding Teen 2013
7) What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent was singing. My favorite part of the talent portion was the song I sang, “Colors of the Wind.” I picked this song based on my platform. The song is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and loving others for who they are, and until you’re able to do so, you won’t be able to live a fulfilled life. The best line in the song for me was, “How high can a sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.” So many teens who struggle with depression or mental illness are not able to see their worth or full potential at that point in their lives. It is important that young people be reminded of how much more there is to this life and how much they are capable of accomplishing with their time on earth.
8) Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? My biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin organization is, hands down, Stephanie Klett, Miss Wisconsin 1992. I have known her for most of my life and I truly admire her passion for life and all people. She is one of the funniest, most charismatic, and bravest women I know and she doesn’t fit “the mold” of a former pageant girl. Stephanie is everything I want to be someday.
9) Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Bread. All the bread.
10) Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan. She reminded me a lot of myself. Mallory is very unorthodox as far as pageant girls go and doesn’t seem to care what others think of her.
11) How would you describe the feelings you had when you won your first local? What goes through your mind when you are standing on stage and you hear your name called? Winning my first title really didn’t feel real. It was something I had dreamed about ever since the age of five so once it really happens you’re just honestly in a state of shock. The best moment, for me, was seeing my section of supporters all fly up from their seats in celebration. I will never forget that visual. So many friends and family came to support me that did not have to. I say it all the time but I am very blessed to have so much love and support in my life, especially in my hometown of Beloit.
12) If someone says, “You’re a beauty queen, what’s the relevancy of a pageant in today’s society,” what would you say to them? To this, I would explain the importance of the Miss America Organization, for both the surrounding community and the contestants themselves. This organization has paid for many young women to get through college and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network, which supports research of fatal illnesses in young children. On top of that I would tell them that, without a doubt, the most intelligent and successful women I have ever met have been in the Miss America Organization.
13) What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? I got to visit UW Madison Children’s Hospital one day and play with a little four-year-old boy who had been hospitalized for the third time. For me, it was eye-opening to see this little boy and know that he had gone through more trauma than I had or possibly ever would. And yet, he still found every reason to smile.
14) How has your involvement influenced your life? For me, the most life changing part of the pageant process was developing more social skills/awareness — interview really helped with that. Since competing, I have never “bombed” a job interview or even gotten anxious over one.
15) What is a hidden talent others might not know you possess? I absolutely love doing imitations and like to think I’m somewhat good at them as well.
16) What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Embrace your differences. That never fails.
17) What are you up to now and do you plan on competing in the future? In Manhattan, where I currently live, pageants are harder to come by. Right now, I’m just focusing on getting through undergrad and I’m hoping to go to law school one day.
18) As a woman who has aged out of competing, reflecting back, how would you sum up your experience using only one word? Gratifying.