Hey, ladies, as classes are winding down, and we are cramming for finals, Endicott Junior, Molly Andrade is preparing for the Miss America Pageant. You may recall that earlier this year, Molly gave us some fall fashion tips and some advice on her skin routine. But now Molly is headed to the Miss America Pageant on December 19th, 2019 as Miss Rhode Island. Hopefully if you’re not too busy, you should watch and root her on. Molly was also kind enough to answer my questions about pageant life. She has only been doing pageants since high school and only told her parents when she needed their permission (because she was under 18)
- How long have you been doing pageants?
Not very long. I definitely didn’t start when I was a little kid, so it’s not like Toddlers and Tiaras that you see on TV at all. …This is now my third year competing for Miss Rhode Island, so third time’s the charm! I can’t believe I get to be on the Miss. America stage, live on NBC December 19th.
- Did you always know you wanted to continue pageants throughout college?
I wasn’t sure actually, I figured I would do it for two years. So, the first year I competed I was the youngest since the age range is eighteen to twenty-five. I was a senior in high school, and the girls I was competing against had graduated or were completing their masters, and they were so impressive that I figured I had no shot. My first time competing, I was runner up and it was very humbling. I came back a second year and I didn’t make the top five and that was definitely a teaching moment of embracing failure. I think those are the most amazing times because we really grow from it.…
As part of the “Princess Program,” Molly has young girl named Raina that she mentors. Raina does not compete but has shadowed Molly throughout the pageant journey. When Molly told Raina that she planned to step back from pageant life until after college, Raina would not take no for an answer.
She said, “no we have to do it together!” And I just thought how selfish of me to rob her of these opportunities, with the mentoring and growth. So I said, hell or high water, we’re going to make this work, and do it together. …she inspired my dream to become a reality. …and we’re so excited to go to Miss America together!
Molly also told me that the Miss America Pageant is the leading scholarship organization for young women, so there is potential for additional scholarship funds at the Pageant. As Miss Rhode Island, there are rewards and responsibilities:
- What are the awards like for winning Miss RI? (Crown/sash/scholarship)?
So, I have a Miss Rhode Island crown and sash, which is probably the most recognizable part of the package. We do get a 5,000 dollar scholarship that went towards my tuition at Endicott. We have a number of sponsors we work with throughout the year. As I mentioned we have a personal trainer, Scott’s Fitness who creates the meal plans and all our workouts. We have Calma Salon who does hair and makeup, I have Glistening Goddess who’s our spray tan sponsor. I have a dentistry who whitens teeth, a nail salon sponsor, and clothing sponsors like Groove, in Newport, and a Miss Rhode Island Robe.
- Are there any restrictions you have with holding the Miss Rhode Island title? (brand deals, social media, curfew)?
We definitely have contracts we need to sign. They’re not so much rules, but more of just trying to create and maintain the image. Obviously, you want the title holder who is representing your sponsors, yourself, and your school, and doing so in an appropriate fashion. So it’s common sense, but I don’t have a curfew, I have access to all the social media accounts, of course making sure it’s appropriate and inline with all the morals and standards. But for the most part, we have freedom to make our year as creative and unique as possible.
Molly is also thankful to Endicott for its support of her pageant journey:
- Miss America conflicts with exams this year, and I know Miss Rhode Island happened last year during finals, how will you balance it all?
So I’m so grateful that Endicott has been really accommodating of making sure I can balance each (school and Miss America) in the best way possible. Last year I was worried because it typically follows around the exam time. So I was able to take my exams early, finish all my final projects that way. …We have to get to Miss America early to make sure everything runs smoothly and is finished. I’ll probably go back to Rhode Island in the beginning of December because we have to make sure we’re packed and prepped for interviews, or anything else that needs final touches. We’ll be at Mohegan Sun this year, so arriving early allows us to get ready for production rehearsals, interviews, different types of media events to make sure that we have fun but to also make sure we’ll have fun and are prepped for the live show. …I’m really excited to see how this goes, but I know it’ll be a lot of fun to see the girls again.
Miss America 2.0 and Swimsuits:
- What do you think of the Miss America Pageant eliminating the swimsuit competition—do you think it helped address body image issues for young women?
Like I said, this is my third year competing. So my first two years, I did compete in the swimsuit competition, and it’s actually called the “lifestyle and fitness”. It’s always been judged on your confidence, and how you portray yourself. So I always felt it was very empowering but we have to recognize that we have to be aware of the times and the body issues within social media. And we have to be careful with the messaging that we’re sending out to young girls who are looking up and watching and make sure it’s a healthy image. I think it’s a great addition to remove it and move forward and hopefully with the Miss America 2.0 era, we can be more inclusive with girls who felt like they never could be up on that stage. Especially if they felt like they couldn’t relate to Miss America, now they can feel, they can too. I’ve had the privilege of going to the other state competitions and I have seen within those competitions the change and shift of girls feeling empowered and wanting to join an organization.
Here she comes, Miss America…
Kate: As you mentioned earlier, the Miss America Pageant is happening in December-
Molly: the 19th-
- Do you expect a big difference between the Miss Rhode Island Pageant and the Miss America Pageant (in terms of Production or glitz and glamour)?
They’re similar in the sense of core values of what you do. it’s your service and not some celebrity job, it’s trying to make a difference and be a change maker in your community. And on the next level, instead of doing that stuff in Rhode Island, or even in New England, you are representing the whole country. So usually you travel near and far, every couple of days, and try to be the best person and representative of the country at that level. It’s really exciting!
- How do you feel either during the competition or while prepping for the competition?
I find it really exciting, and I know some people can be really stressed by it, but I just try to take one moment at a time and enjoy the process. It is such a once and a lifetime opportunity and the prep can definitely be stressful. …When the finals come around, I love it! I love performing on stage as an Irish step dancer. It’s an almost out of body experience because sometimes i have no idea what I just did on that stage, but I know I felt amazing.
- What have you LEARNED from past pageants that might help you with Miss America?
I touched on this earlier, but just embracing failure, and knowing that you cannot compare yourself, because people always try to put women against each other. Of course, I’m going to put my best foot forward in hope that I have that opportunity to become Miss America. But the reality is I’m competing against fifty other women, and only one girl will win. So what will you take away from that experience? For me, my true goal is to go there and have no regrets knowing I have done everything I possibly could. I am going to embrace every experience, make memories while having fun, hope Rhode Island is proud, and represent Endicott as well.
Pageants are “soooo not like” Miss Congeniality. However, Molly does have some advice:
- What advice do you have for young women interested in pageants—either before college or during college?
Do your research and get involved. Definitely for the Miss America organization, they provide so many workshops and mentoring opportunities that there are so much to gain, without just winning. With just working on resumes, and learning how to answer interview questions, can be transitioned into the workplace that you can use. I just don’t know why you wouldn’t try, because it’s great to put yourself outside your comfort zone. Definitely try something new, because you might find that it’s not your thing, but hey you got up and tried and it takes a lot of confidence to do that. Ask questions, you can reach out to me if you’re interested. We do a lot of information sessions but give it a shot, why not?
Be sure to look for Molly during the Miss America Pageant December 19th!