Welcome to another Former Feature Friday! I am over-the-moon excited to bring you insights, words of wisdom, and thoughts from former contestants and titleholders! No one knows the job better than those who have walked the walk and talked the talk – I hope you enjoy it, are inspired by them, and learn as much as I have!
Well it’s been a hot minute since our last Former Feature Friday! And while you can’t really beat interviewing one of your best friends who just happens to be a former state titleholder, today’s installment of FFF is SO FREAKING EXCITING!!!! But you’ll have to wait for the next installment to see why 🙂 Katie’s interview was so jam-packed with useful and interesting information, we had to go two parts with her as well!
Katie Kenny (formerly Katie Cole) was one of the girls I was privileged to coach and mentor in my first year as a Miss America local director. I worked with her on every area of competition, and our local came away with a Miss Iowa and a second-runner-up that year. But that wasn’t even close to the beginning – or the end – of Katie’s pageant career.
Katie, where and how did you get involved in pageants?
I grew up dancing, so when I received a National American Miss pamphlet in the mail, I asked my dad if I could go because I wanted to do my clog routine! So my first pageant was the Jr. Teen division in the National American Miss pageant system. I had an absolute blast and learned so much about myself. Although I primarily went to compete in talent and didn’t even make the top ten, I knew that I had gained self-confidence through the personal introduction and one-on-one interview processes. I was hooked on pageants from that day.
So you were bitten by the pageant bug! It’s a sneaky thing 🙂 So after that first pageant, you worked your way through a few pageant systems before a pit-stop in the Miss America Organization when I met you. Take us through the titles you held prior to MAO.
- National American Miss Des Moines 2006
- National American Miss Iowa Teen 2007
- American Coed Miss Iowa Victory Teen 2007
- American Coed Miss Iowa Hostess 2007
- Miss Iowa American Coed Teen 2008
- Miss Iowa Victory Teen 2008
- America’s US Miss Northern Iowa 2009
- America’s US Miss Central Iowa 2010
- National American Miss Saint Louis 2010
- National All-American Miss 2010-2011
- numerous national optional titles
So just a couple then… 😉 Up to that point, what was your biggest accomplishment in pageantry?
Winning National All-American Miss was such an accomplishment because it’s such a prestigious pageant and girls dream about winning NAM, so it was pretty amazing to experience that.
Winning a national title is exceptional! So at this point, you jumped into the Miss America Organization with only one year of eligibility. Why did you wait so long?
I was so scared to compete for what I considered a “bigger” system. Doing well at NAM nationals finally pushed me to compete for Miss America. I won my very first local – Miss Greater Des Moines – and went on to Miss Iowa to place 2nd runner up in 2013. In reality, the Miss America sisterhood is like a big family, and I wish I hadn’t waited to compete!
I agree – I think you had the goods to be an exceptional state titleholder in MAO, but in your one year, you still made quite an impact. So which was your favorite – NAM or MAO?
It is truly a toss up!
Stereotypical pageant non-answer, but go on… 😉 (I kid, I kid!)
NAM brought me into the pageant world and really made me who I am today. Had I not gone into that first pageant, I wouldn’t be where I am now. But I love lifestyle and fitness in MAO as well as having an emphasis on talent and interview.
Speaking of lifestyle and fitness – with Gretchen Carlson as the new leader of MAO, she has made it known she and the new board are looking to revolutionize and modernize Miss America, and that very well could include a change to the swimsuit competition. As a state preliminary swim suit winner, how do you feel about it potentially being changed or replaced?
That is such a tough question for me! I loved the swimsuit portion of Miss Iowa because it pushed me to keep in shape and eat healthy. So the fitness portion should continue to be included. But I do think it deters women from competing when they have to do it in a swimsuit. Perhaps a different type of athletic wear would allow for people to feel more comfortable and be more inclusive, which would further set this system apart.
There’s a good likelihood we are trending that way, and it will be interesting to see what decisions are made and how those decisions are received! Aside from swimsuit, though, what other competition areas are your favorite?
I love interview!!!! It is the best time to tell the judges about yourself and ensure they remember you onstage. There’s nothing better than coming out of interview knowing you did your absolute best! I also love fun fashion and casual wear modeling because they are so fun and upbeat – that pace of walking is my absolute favorite!
That makes sense. You are a nationally-renowned cheerleader and choreographer, and just this little tiny ball of energy!! We’ll get more into your advice for contestants in next week’s post, but for now, what is your biggest regret in pageants (other than starting MAO too late)?
Spending so much money on gowns!! Only because I have them sitting in my house now with nowhere to go. 😉
HA! Well I’m a frugalista so I totally understand – but you did have quite an awesome wardrobe 🙂 At MYM, we work on finding a balance of investments so that you can look, feel, and be AWESOME!
Until next time…