My Miss America journey started when I was 18. I entered my first local pageant because I wanted to sing and play guitar. For a young woman fresh out of high school, there were not many safe and inviting opportunities to perform the kind of music I liked. But the Miss America program gave me a stage. At my first pageant, I had no clue what I was doing. I felt so inexperienced and overwhelmed on that first try, that I decided pageantry wasn’t for me, and I would never do it again. But that experience of competing in a Miss America pageant stuck with me: in the way I dressed, how I styled my hair and makeup, how I spoke in interviews. When I started my rock band, Cinema Hearts, two years after my first pageant, my idea for the band was – what would it look like if Miss America played the electric guitar?
Four years after my first pageant, I changed my mind and started to compete again. This time I felt more prepared, more confident; I had a better understanding not only of pageantry, but of how I could be a role model and how I would serve my community if I had a crown. And then I earned a crown, one year ago, and became the first Miss Mountain Laurel in the state of Virginia.
This past year of serving with the Miss Virginia Organization has been one of the most rewarding, and the one of the hardest, years of my life. It was a challenge to be thrusted into so many new environments in such a short period of time. Competing at the Miss Virginia Pageant this summer humbled me. I was under the impression that I never get stage fright, but as soon as I stepped onto the big stage at the Berglund Center, in Roanoke, VA, I thought my legs were going to collapse beneath me and I wanted to cry. It was a scary and beautiful dream come true to sing on that stage, the biggest stage I had ever been on. At the Miss Virginia Pageant, I was proud to win the Four Points Award, for best exemplifying the values of Miss America, and the Miss America Academic Award, for outstanding scholastic achievement.
My favorite part about my year as Miss Mountain Laurel has been sharing the message of the Miss America Organization and my Music Empowerment platform with people all over the world. There’s no doubt that the sparkle of the Miss America crown catches the public’s eye, but it’s even more remarkable to see a pageant queen with a crown play electric guitar in a rock and roll band. Because of the Miss Mountain Laurel title, I was interviewed by the Washington Post, Northern Virginia Magazine, the Fairfax County Times, and Brightest Young Things about what it means to be a Miss America in the millennium. I was featured on the covers of Fairfax Woman Magazine and the Fairfax Connection wearing the crown and holding my guitar. Fender Guitars even called me on the phone, because they heard about my story, and I talked with them about how important it is to respect women in the music industry. Most of all, my year of hard work has been worth it because young girls would come up to me after my shows and say that they wanted to be a rock star beauty queen just like me.
This year has been transformative, and I am so gracious for the people who have supported and encouraged me. The Miss Mountain Laurel Organization directors, Jacob Manthey and Emily Love, who coached me every week, styled me in a wardrobe I never thought I would wear, choreographed my talent, and dared me to be my true unique self on the Miss Virginia stage.
My mother, Sophy Weinroth, who altered all my evening gowns and listened to me talk about pageants everyday at breakfast and my father, Stephen Weinroth, who told everyone he knew that I was Miss Mountain Laurel.
My brother and bandmate, Erich Weinroth, who produced a custom backing track for my talent song, and let me wear the crown and sash at our Cinema Hearts shows. James Adelsberger, who created an original arrangement of my talent song, and played on the recording with volunteer musicians Schulyer Kiely, Sherwin Zahirieh, Max Vivaqua, and Clay Baran.
My generous sponsors, Imagine You Fit personal training; Proms, Pageants, and Pretty Things; Becky’s Bridal; Reflections Pageant, and Prom; and Kimberly Needles Photography. My amazing friends in the George Mason University Music Productions Club and DC music scene who assured me I was “still punk” though I won a pageant. And the fabulously kind Miss Virginia titleholders, especially my teen, Miss Mountain Laurel's Outstanding Teen 2017, Haley Day, and the devoted volunteers who welcomed me into the loving Miss Virginia pageant community and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.
I no longer wear the Miss Mountain Laurel crown, but I will forever carry with me the excellence and elegance that the Miss America program has instilled in me. I am honored and happy to be the 2017 Miss Mountain Laurel.