Monday, August 26, 2013

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan

Ask the Crown Stephanie McGrane interviewed Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.  She was the youngest to win the Miss America Crown since 1937.

What was the secret to your success of being crowned Miss America?
Teresa spoke of how the judges are different in every competition so it depends on the connection you have with them. Despite the fact that some of her judges were completely on the other end of the spectrum of her in terms of religion, politics, etc., she was able to connect with them.  If it would have been a group of seven different people, she wonders what the outcome would have been.  People try to find some type of magic something that will help them win.  Teresa notes that it is more about connecting with the individuals, rather than trying to change something about yourself.  She believes that, "God's will will be done in the end and if it is meant to be, it will happen".

What is the secret of going into a pageant interview? What can people do to connect with the judges?
Teresa believes there are elements you can’t control or plan for. Often times contestants focus on themselves and walk into an interview thinking, “I want them to like me” and “I’m going to tell them how great I am”.  Judges can be turned off by that type of attitude. She stated the importance of the judges needing to know that you care.  Remember the saying, "people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care".  Knowing that the judges were very different than her, Teresa focused on gaining a connection with them and making sure she explained her positions well.  Teresa reminded the viewers to always take into consideration the audience that you are speaking to.

How were you feeling as they began naming the runners up?
Going to Miss America as the youngest contestant, Teresa thought, "there is no chance (of winning) so my goal was simply to do my best and to try and set a record for Nebraska".  Through the prelims she wanted to make Nebraska, her directors, family and friends proud. She won talent the prelim night and Nebraska had never won that award, so she was pleased with that. 
Then, she was in the top five and she was so excited to have made it that far. Teresa thought she was going to be called 4th runner up. When the 4th runner up was called, she thought she was  going to be 3rd runner up!  She was thinking about her homecoming and going back to Nebraska because they had never had anyone in the top 5 before. Then she was holding the 1st runner up's hands.  She could not believe she was going to be first runner up to Miss America.  She was thinking how excited everyone was going to be!  She thought there was no way the judges would give the responsibilities of Miss America to a 17 year old. When they called her name she didn't know what to think. It was so unexpected.  Teresa said it didn't really sink in for about two weeks.

What did you do to prepare for Miss America and how long in advance did you start to prepare for the competition? 
Teresa said everything she was doing her entire life was preparing her for Miss America.  She did not grow up thinking she was going to be Miss America. She was never interested in competing in a pageant.  She wasn't really good at one particular thing growing up but she was diverse and involved in a variety of activities.  When Teresa did become involved with the Miss America Organization, they liked the fact she was involved with her community, excelled at academics and was a well-rounded person. Teresa said, "you need to have something to share, something that you are passionate about, that will always make a difference."  

What was your year like as Miss America?
Teresa said Miss America is like the world’s largest internship.  The day after she won she boarded a plane to New York City and from there hit the ground running. She was on a plane every other day. In one year, she packed in enough experiences that most people do in about 35-40 years. Teresa traveled 200,000 miles, across 36 states and 5 countries.  Other than being home one week for Easter and two weeks for Christmas, she was on the road 24/7. Teresa spoke of her title as hard work and a full time job. There were 16 hour days of walking in high heels and 6 hour long autograph sessions. Since being Miss America is so much work, Teresa told us that "you have to be passionate about it".  The title gave this lovely 17 year old, small town girl the chance to reach so many different people, speaking to groups as large as 20,000 people.  One of her highlights was being able to speak at the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis just before President Obama.

At one point you were interested in going into politics, is that something you still want to do?
Teresa is currently working towards her undergraduate degree in government at Patrick Henry College.  Her dream is to follow that with law school at Harvard.  She would love to represent the state of Nebraska on a state or federal level. This has become even more of a passion of hers since representing Nebraska and becoming Miss America.

How do you feel about the Miss America Pageant moving back to Atlantic City?
Teresa is SO excited for the Miss America Pageant to return to Atlantic City! She is jealous it wasn’t held there the year she was crowned. Teresa said it is important to hold onto tradition and that is something that sets the Miss America Organization apart.

What advice do you have for the ladies who aspire to become Miss America?
Teresa believes that sometimes people think that a specific event or crown is going to change who they are, how they act, how they speak, how they dress, and it won't.  Winning Miss America is not going to change you and make you become the best person in the entire world.  If you are not acting like Miss America everyday, you are not Miss America.  There is only going to be one Miss America, and the rest of the ladies will go home and continue to represent their states.  In those positions they should be just as much like Miss America as if they had won the title.  Teresa would like to see the state titleholders represent the organization better than if they had won Miss America.  If they have a state crown on their head they are still the face of that organization.

You were Miss America t the age of 17, where do you go from there? 
Winning Miss America wasn't on Teresa's bucket list.  The title was a detour, so now she is back on her path that she had planned, only with more resources. She is attending college, followed by law school, with plans of going into politics or criminal prosecution in Nebraska.  Her bucket list is as long as the dictionary! Teresa is also working on her personal trainer certification and plans to compete in a fitness competition.  She feels that some people let one thing define them and they never move forward, stifling their growth.  Teresa has found that it is important to set goals for the day, week, month, year as well as lifetime goals.

Tell us about you pageant coaching business.
As Miss America, people often asked Teresa for advice. Wanting to give more extensive advice to contestants, she has created a Facebook page called, Gold Standard Coaching.   She posts a verse or vocabulary word of the week, interview questions, tips on physical fitness...all the things that contestants need to focus on for competition. 

How do you conduct your coaching?
Teresa coaches in person, by phone or by Skype.  She knows the importance of staying connected with her clients, especially when they are at a competition, and does so by phone, texts and emails.

How to contact Teresa:
Facebook Page - Teresa Scanlan
Gold Standard Coaching Facebook Page -
Web Site-  

To see the interview click HERE


Friday, August 23, 2013

Michele Strom, star of WeTVs Obsessed with the Dress

Ask the Crown, Stephanie McGrane interviewed Michele Strom,  Mrs. Nebraska America 2007 - 2nd runner up to Mrs. America 2007, Mrs. Nebraska United States 2009, top 12 at the Mrs. United States Pageant, owner of the Winning Crown Boutique and star of WeTV's Obsessed with the Dress.

How the idea of the show was born.

It was a typical day at work until Michele's shop received "another" call from Pie Town Productions.  One of her wardrobe specialist answered the call, (they had called a few times before), but Michele was never given the messages because the assistant thought the caller was trying to sell Michele pies! They has no idea who was calling!  Finally, after Michele heard about the project she decided to submit a video of the store and their employees. After seeing the video, the production company liked the dynamics of the Winning Crown Boutique and decided to go with them. 

Two years ago, the production company sold the show to WeTV and the show went went into production.  The crew and staff filmed all summer. Michele said that is was a bit stressful to manage a business and a household while being followed around by cameras, but she said it was worth every moment of it!

What makes the show a success?

The different characters: Are you on Team Beau or Team Tiffany? People also like to see what goes into picking a dress for girls who are competing in higher end pageants. It is also interesting to watch the thought process of exactly what goes into picking the perfect dress. 

The Cast:

Michele:  Owner of Winner Crown Boutique. She sells 360 pageant dresses a year. Michele also dressed the winner of Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan.

Sarah: Michele’s first employee. She is also a personal assistant to Michele. 

Beau:  Assistant manager of the store. He and Michele have a close relationship that other employees are a bit jealous of.

Tiffany:  She has tattoos, wears amazing shoes and you can always be surprised at what color her hair might be.  She has her own line called “Donna Faye” named after her grandmother and designs custom pageant dresses (which I would LOVE to wear one of her gowns!) And on a personal note, I like her the best! She is edgy and not your typical pageant gown designer.

Hannah: A senior in high school and  the girl who is not afraid to tell you how she sees it. You will always know where you stand with Hannah. If she does not like the dress, she is not afraid to tell you, no matter if it might offend you. She is the kind of girl I wish I could be like at times.

Gretchen:  How can you not love Gretchen? She is the girl that will always make you feel beautiful about yourself. In 2008, she won Miss Nebraska America. You can tell she is a store favorite.

What is it like to manage all the different personalities?

Michele doesn’t want to say she comes home to babysit her children, but now it feels like she comes home from babysitting children at the store.  They are all very interesting in their own regards. They all have such unique personalities and this is why Michele hired them.  Even Tiffany with her tattoos she does not fit the typical pageant mold!  But of course, together they create magic and for TV purposes, everyone is letting their inner diva come out!   They do make Michele laugh, and she tries not to take it too serious.

New Assistant Manager

So by now you  have all watched the show, and you know Beau is the new Assistant Manager and Tiffany will still be the designer. It will be exciting to see how it all plays out with Beau in charge when Michele is not around. Will he last?

On a personal note: Michele’s daughter competed in the natural part of a pageant. What are her thoughts about the “glitz” pageant systems?

Michele stated she is not a huge fan of the true glitz pageants. She doesn’t want to see kids wearing makeup, or fake hair or fake teeth or spray tans. Children are beautiful they way that they are. There are pageants for children that are keeping them as kids. One is National American Miss Pageant. She feels that is a pageant that promotes self-esteem for children, giving them life skills. Showing them how to speak in front of groups of people. In the Glitz pageant world, there is no interview or speaking on stage. Those are two valuable life skills that anybody who has ever competed in a pageant has gained from.  In her opinion, Michele does not believe you learn any life skills by being in a glitz pageant. She feels it is hurting our women and girls who are becoming women, their self-esteem and what they feel they need to look like.

Michele is proud of her daughter Emma, she did not put any makeup on her when she competed in the pageant. She let Emma compete as who she is.

Michele is also a Pageant Coach, she is a no holds-bar/brutal honest coach. Is that the best way to create winners?

Michele feels it is a good way to coach. People are coming to her either because they have not won, or they have been close, but have not won yet. She doesn’t feel it will do anyone any good if she sugar coats the issue. If in the past the client has picked poor wardrobe that is an easy fix. Wardrobe is the most common mistake a client makes. They are picking items they see in a magazine and it is not a good fit for them or their body type.  Michele is able to tweak that and help them find things that look good on them. 

In the interview training, Michele takes a completely different approach of what people think they should be doing in an interview. Michele is all about letting their natural stories of life come out, it’s all about building off your own life experiences and letting those judges know who you are. People have said that if you can get through the interview session with Michele, you will be fabulous in interview.

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan
Who are some of Michele’s winners that she has coached or dressed?

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011. She came to Michele when she was competing for Miss Nebraska. They were able to help her on a very small budget. She went on to win Miss Nebraska 2010, then on to win Miss America 2011. Teresa was one of the youngest in history to ever win Miss America at the age of 17. Michele was involved with her wardrobe, Michele custom designed her dress that she wore for Miss America. The goal for that dress was to make her look a little bit more mature since she was only 17. They wanted something that would stick to the theme of white, but made her look a bit older and mature.

Michele has dressed a lot of people in the National American Miss System, the College Pageant, Teen USA and Miss USA. They are involved in all the big pageants, and in the smaller pageant systems too.,,

What is one of the biggest mistakes pageant girls are making when they come in to purchase a gown?

Most have an idea in their head of what they want to look like, and it is hard to pull them away from that when it’s the wrong choice. Sometimes people come in, mostly with the Mrs. Contestants, where they are set on wearing a white dress, because they think white is the color that is going to win. Sometimes they do not look good in a white dress, so some of the time it is hard to talk people out of it. She has lost clients over it, but she is not going to give in and say “sure that looks great”, when she knows it is not.  If you are going to go to a coach and an expert in something i~ it is because you want their advice and opinion. It’s the same thing if your daughter was in gymnastics, you would not train them yourself, you send them to an expert.

Michele at Mrs. United States
Winning in white. Why do people think they need to wear white to win?

By statistics more women are wearing white, so your odds of winning in white are greater. There are certain people who look better in white.  Michele likes to wear white, black or red when she competes. People have the mindset that white wins and it is hard for them to get past that. However, if there is a black backdrop on a stage and someone comes out in a white dress with sparkles on it, you tend to notice that. White can look good on stage depending on what the backgrounds are.  Michele says pick the dress on the fit first and color second.

Obsessed with the Dress is not showing a negative light on pageantry. The drama comes from within the store. The show is about watching competitors come in and select a dress that will win the pageant.

Obsessed with the Dress is on WeTV every Friday at 10 PM EST.  Did you miss an episode? You can go to WeTV to get caught up on what is happening. You can also go to ITunes to watch the whole series. 

How to contact Michele:

Twitter- @MicheleMStrom or @winningcrown

Facebook-  Winningcrown or MicheleStrom

Website-  www.winning

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