Move over, “Toddlers and Tiaras”: The glitzy, glamourous, grown-up 2011 Miss America Pageant aired January 15th on ABC. Co-hosted by “The Bachelor” emcee Chris Harrison and “Dancing with the Stars” co-anchor Brooke Burke, the glittery gala took place in Las Vegas and featured the 53 hopefuls as they competed for the crown. At night’s end, Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan bested the rest to take the crown. Here’s a rundown of the events, including a full list of contestants.
The 2011 Miss America pageant opened with a dance number set to the tune of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”. The shimmying, booty-shaking contestants starred in the routine, dressed in matching silver minidresses and of course, their signature state sashes. Immediately following, Chris gave a brief-lead in to the ladies’ introductions. Here’s a quick glance at the 2011 Miss America contestants by state:
Miss Alabama, Ashley Davis
Miss Alaska, Abby Hancock
Miss Arizona, Kathryn Bulkley
Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady
Miss California, Arianna Afsar
Miss Colorado, Melaina Shipwash
Miss Connecticut, Brittany Decker
Miss Delaware, Kayla Martell
Miss Georgia, Christina McCauley
Miss Hawaii, Jalee Fuselier
Miss Idaho, Kylie Kofoed
Miss Illinois, Whitney Thorpe-Klinsky
Miss Indiana, Gabrielle Reed
Miss Iowa, Pauli Mayfield (who proudly declared “my state gives you gas”)
Miss Kansas, Lauren Werhan
Miss Kentucky, Djuan Trent
Miss Louisiana, Kelsi Crain
Miss Maine, Arikka Knights
Miss Maryland, Lindsay Staniszweski
Miss Massachusetts, Loren Galler Rabinowitz
Miss Michigan, Katie LaRoche
Miss Minnesota, Kathryn Knuttila
Miss Mississippi, Sarah Beth James
Miss Missouri, Erika Hebron
Miss Montana, Kacie West
Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan
Miss Nevada, Cris Crotz
Miss New Hampshire, Krystal Lee Muccioli
Miss New Jersey, Ashleigh Udalovas
Miss New Mexico, Madison Tabet
Miss New York, Claire Buffie
Miss North Carolina, Adrienne Leigh Core
Miss North Dakota, Beth Dennison
Miss Ohio, Becky Minger
Miss Oklahoma, Emoly West
Miss Oregon, Stephanie Steers
Miss Pennsylvania, Courtney Thomas
Miss Puerto Rico, Mariselle Morales
Miss Rhode Island, Deborah Saint-Vil
Miss South Carolina, Desiree Puglia
Miss South Dakota, Loren Vaillancort
Miss Tennessee, Nicole Jordan
Miss Texas, Ashley Melnick
Miss Utah, Christina Lowe
Miss Vermont, Caroline Bright
Miss Virgin Islands, Sheniqua Robinson
Miss Virginia, Caitlin Uze
Miss Washington, Jacquie Brown
Miss West Virgibia, Cali Young
Miss Wisconsin, Kimberly Sawyer
Miss Wyoming, Alicia Grove
Following the pageant introductions, Chris pimped sponsor DSW and handed the mic over to Brooke, who shared that the semifinalists would be announced in short order. After a break, Chris took over once again to explain that the judges had selected 11 semifinalists based on earlier action. Miss Oklahoma Emoly West, a lovely, somewhat poufy-haired blonde with a more classic pageant look, was called up first, followed by Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan (another poufy blonde), Miss Texas Ashley Melnick (a poufy brunette this time), Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint-Vil (who has totally gorgeous skin), Miss Utah Christina Lowe, Miss Washington Jacquie Brown (poufy blonde), Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley (more blonde pouf), Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier (brunette), Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze (brunette pouf), Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady and Miss California Arianna Afsar. Chris dismissed the 11 semifinalists to change into their swimsuits.
Brooke took over emcee duties next, addressing the remaining 42 ladies and letting them know that not only did America vote for two additional ladies to join the 11, but that they also had the power to vote for a fellow Miss America 2011 contestant to advance. (But she also noted that they weren’t allowed to vote for themselves!)
Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson, with, yes, poufy hair, took the helm for a moment when the 2011 Miss America pageant returned from a break and introduced the year’s judging panel. Included were “The View” chatterer Joy Behar, “Early Show” Correspondent Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, TV’s Marc Cherry, “Dancing with the Stars” pro dancer Tony Dovolani, actress Marilu Henner, fashionista Dr. Taryn Rose, and country singer Mark Wills. Then she stepped behind the table of Ernst and Young vote tabulators and gave them a nod, too. (Yeah, it was awkward.)
Then Chris followed with the big Miss America 2011 pageant America’s Choice vote results, which saw Miss New York Claire Buffie and Miss Delaware Kayla Martell taking the 12th and 13th slots in the semifinals. The contestant-vote nods went to Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent and Miss Oregon Stephanie Steers. The four ladies booked it to the dressing room to change into their swimsuits. Brooke chased them and awkwardly tried to ask questions. Uh, no. It didn’t work out. But she looked funny tailing them.
Chris introduced reigning Miss America Caressa Cameron when the big show returned from a break. She emerged from backstage wearing a striking red dress and went on to encourage visitors to take a look at the organization’s website, MissAmerica.org.
And then… swimsuit time. Miss Oklahoma kicked off the lust-round, wearing what looked more like lingerie than swimwear, and strutting to a jazzed up version of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”. It’d belabor the point to address each contestant individually; suffice it to say that they all wore teeny weenie black bikinis in varying styles, tan shoes (from DSW, of course!), and did lots of hip-shakin’. They weren’t the most flattering suits I’d ever seen; some of the undoubtedly svlete ladies’ legs looked a bit chunkish. Whatever happened to color? And to letting the contestants choose their own suits? In styles that flattered their body types? I mean, I get the motivation behind streamlining looks for easy comparison, but not all gals look good in skimpy bikinis.
But anyway, with the 2011 Miss America pageant bikini round over, Chris revealed the identities of the 12 ladies who had been chosen to move on to the evening wear round: Miss Texas, Miss Arkansas, Miss Delaware, Miss Arizona, Miss Hawaii, Miss Washington, Miss Kentucky, Miss California, Miss Oklahoma, Miss Miss Virginia, Miss New York and Miss Nebraska. The 12 gals ran off to the dressing room to dress in their nighttime finery, and then paraded on stage. Ah, something fun!
Miss Texas Ashley Melnick was up first. She wore a shimmering, glittery tan gown with a serious slit up the leg and said that despite her success, she’s “still just Ashley”. Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady donned a long black velvety number and sang the praises of Michelle Obama. Wearing a white halter style gown emblazoned with jewels, Miss Delaware Kayla Martell, who has alopecia, said that when she’s being “just me”, she’s sitting around at home in comfortable clothes with her wig off. In a fitted gown gown, Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley said she loves “relaxing and having a good time”. Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier, wearing a pure white and gold gown, expressed a love of her gown. Miss Washington Jacquie Brown called the experience “bigger than my wedding day” and said she loved her unique grey frock. In a single-armed golden gown with sparkle to spare, Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent wished she had Lady Gaga’s meat gown but went on to change her tune, instead pining for a fish gown.
Miss California Arianna Afsar was firey red in her gown, and expressed an appreciation for glitz. Miss Oklahoma Emoly West, who wore a form fitting steely blue gown with a flared skirt, said that her dress selection was important and that it had to be something her children could see her in down the line. Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze, in her white sleeveless gown, was pleased that she’d found a way to dress up as a princess as an adult. Miss New York Claire Buffie wore a black velvety, long-sleeved dress expressed that it’s better to fix old shoes than to buy new ones. Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan was last, wearing a white one-sleeved number that she said makes her feel “incredible”.
As the ladies prepared for the talent competition of the 2011 Miss America Pageant, Chris was handed yet another envelope: Two more hopefuls were slated to get the axe just moments before putting their abilities on national display. But it wasn’t going to be easy: They’d be called up one at a time to perform; the two not called would be eliminated. Ouch. First to perfom was Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan, who, wearing a flowing red gown, played a passionate piano piece. Miss Washington Jacquie Brown followed, singing “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” in a surprisingly throaty tone.
Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley stepped up next to sing a Puccini piece wearing a simple long blue gown with a shimmering diamond belt around the middle. (It was a little falsetto, but that girl has some pipes.) Miss California Arianna Afsar followed with her rendition of “I Who Have Nothing”. Miss Oklahoma Emoly West broke from the vocal trend with a ballet routine set to “Time”.
But more vocal stylings were in store as Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier was called to perform “Feeling Good”. (I really liked her white gown until she stood up and I saw that it was short. A little too ‘Redneck Wedding’ for my taste.) Miss Delaware Kaya Martell hit the stage next, with a contemporary dance en pointe set to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”. It was one of the more, uh, creative talents of the pageant. Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze kept the dance-trend alive with her rendition of the “Riverdance” finale. And back in unique-ville, Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady sang “I Want to be a Cowboy Sweetheart” while doing ventriloquism with two dummies. (Yes, I’m serious. I’m not creative enough to come up with that one on my own.) With nine down, Chris revealed that Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent was the last woman selected to participate in the talent round. She took to the stage with “A Change is Gonna Come”.
With the swimsuit, evening wear and talent portions of the 2011 Miss America Pageant in the books, the 10 ladies left in the competition joined Chris on stage. Five of the ladies would be called upon to answer a “tough” question; the other five would be eliminated. Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier was given the first question: “Do you think of yourself first as a citizen of your state, your country or the world?” She said that she considered herself a person of the world. Up next was Miss Washington Jacquie Brown, whose question was “What does Miss America teach us about healthy competition?” She hedged a little at first, but then espoused the virtues of loving one another.
Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan was asked “how do we balance the right to know with the need for government security?” She said that national security needs to trump personal need to know. Miss Oklahoma Emoly West earned the next question: “How can young women protect themselves — now and in the future — when it comes to posting on the internet?” She responded quickly with the word “discretion”. The last question went to Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady: “Is it right to force people to have health insurance?” She responded that it was important for all Americans to have health care, but acknowledged that the current bill was imperfect.
In honor of the pageant’s 90th anniversary, 47 former Miss Americas dating back to 1943 took to the stage next. Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron took one final walk. And then… the big crowning moment! Miss Oklahoma Emoly West was named 4th runner up, while the 3rd runner up distinction went to Miss Washington Jacquie Brown. With just three girls remaining, the 2nd runner up was named: Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier. After a moment of drama, Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan was crowned Miss America 2011. The tearful winner pointed skyward as she grinned and addressed the crowd. And of course, the traditional Miss America music played.