Here are some tips from actual directors and contestants on how you can form an effective partnership.
1. Be Aware of Expectations
If you are a contestant competing for a title, go in to the competition with your eyes open. Research what holding this title means in terms of time, effort, money, and responsibility. The title you are pursuing may require you to take a leave of absence from school and work, go on a daily school tour, make appearances all over your city or state, or contribute to an extensive wardrobe.
As countless titleholders will tell you, it is a big commitment being a queen but it is ultimately worth all the sacrifices you might make. That being said, you need to be completely aware of what will be expected of you and be prepared to deliver during your year of service. After all, you will only get the chance to hold that title once.
As a director at the local or state level, familiarize yourself with the duties of a director. You will be, in part, responsible for your contestant’s year of service when it comes to appearances, scholarships, wardrobe funds, preparation, and more. You will need to assemble a team to work with your contestant and accompany her to the next level of competition.
If you are competing/directing at the local level, much of your conversation will concern the state competition and what is required of this particular local title. At the state level, Miss America preparation and representing the state are the two main objectives and should be fully explored by both parties.
Miss Georgia 2009 Ema Cook advises that each party acknowledge the expectations at the beginning of the year of service. This usually comes in the form of a contract the contestant signs, but should also be part of a larger discussion between the titleholder and director.
2. Involve the Parents
Parents are the most important people in a titleholder’s life, right along with her director. Elizabeth Kroll of Nebraska suggests that you set up a meeting with parents at the beginning of the year of service. At that meeting, you can discuss financial and scheduling obligations, along with your goals for the year of service. They can share their concerns and hopes, as well as let you know how involved they expect to be in the process. The meeting will set an important tone for the next 365 days, as a titleholder’s support system is crucial to her success. If you are on the same page with her parents, the year will go that much smoother.
3. Be Prepared to Compromise
Any good relationship is based on mutual respect and the all-important ability to compromise. While some things about holding a title or director are non-negotiable, there are plenty of other issues that fall into the “meet in the middle” category.
Disagreements over things like wardrobe, styling, and talent selection are ultimately fruitless because a resolution is hard to arrive at. Instead of disagreeing, both the titleholder and the director should admit that their exact vision may not be viable and move toward a common, agreeable goal. No contestant should wear a gown or perform a talent she is not comfortable with, nor should a director feel uncomfortable about the wardrobe or talent selection of his/her contestant.
4. Keep Your Eyes On the Prize
No matter what the year of service brings, both titleholder and director should remember that the year is about four main things: scholarship, success, style, and service. Ultimately, not much else matters. The contestant should grow from her year as a titleholder and the program should grow as a result of her performance.
By not getting caught up in day-to-day annoyances and small problems, everyone ones—the titleholder, the contestant, the community, and the program.
5. Be Prepared to Learn
If you talk to any directors or titleholders (current or formal), they will tell you that this experience is chock full of learning. You will gain new insight about yourself, your community, and more.
Approach the year with an open mind and an open heart. Chances are, this experience will take you places you hadn’t imagined and give you experiences you never dreamed of. By creating a cohesive bond between titleholder and contestant, you are giving yourself the chance to make a friend and mentor for life.
You may not always see eye-to-eye and there may be days when you don’t want to hear another opinion, but what you sow in your relationship you can reap for years to come.
Written by: Julie Anne Wieland
Photo: Lauren and Sheryl (2010)