Renowned in their fields, the seven Miss America Organization preliminary competition judges bring diversity and a varied skill set to the panel this year. These judges are charged with narrowing down fifty-three Miss America contestants to the top fifteen—the group from which final night judges will crown the next Miss America. What criteria are they using to score contestants? Find out here!
During the judges' interview, how do you determine what you want to find out about each contestant, and what questions do you ask to find those things out?
Stephanie George: They have to have a deep understanding of current events. That’s number one. They are all very passionate about their platforms, but we want to know why. If they are Miss America, what will they do to extend their platforms? That’s number two. Number three, we let them talk about why they are here. What did they do to get here? [The fourth thing I look for is] why they have a passion for the organization and appreciate scholarship funding that is awarded to them.
When judging talent, do you base your scores on contestants’ technical skills or their ability to engage the audience?
Richard Dyer: If you start looking for something, it’s all you’re ever going to find. The talent part is important, but not decisive. By the end, we’re looking for a combination of qualities. The main thing is what is the talent telling you about her.
Why is Miss America relevant to media and business?
Nina Whitaker LaFontaine: Miss America raises the social consciousness of young women today. It is important in a nation where there is apathy. These ladies are a gleaming example of what it is to be beautiful, smart, and still be in service.
All of the contestants are fit. How do you judges the lifestyle and fitness in swimwear competiton?
Oscar James: I look for proportion and if the woman is comfortable in her body. I’m seeing if she can own the stage, feel good about herself.
Other preliminary competition judges include Shirley Cothran Barret, Karl Jurman, and Cori Wellins Lagao. Check back with us tonight to see who judges award two more scholarships after the second night of preliminary competitions!
Written by: Erika Rose is fourpoints magazine’s staff writer. Her favorite phase of competition is evening wear.