Students look to showcase talents at Miss ND pageant
Erin Swope | Thursday, March 7, 2019
On Thursday night at 7 p.m., the stage in Washington Hall will be flooded with representatives from the 14 women’s halls of Notre Dame, all competing for the title of Miss ND. The Miss ND pageant, an annual event hosted by O’Neill Hall as one of their signature events, raises money for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
The pageant is divided into two acts.
During the first act of the pageant, each contestant comes on stage and showcases a special talent. Junior Corey Miller, O’Neill Hall’s vice president and the event coordinator for the pageant, said some of the talents are more traditional such as singing or dancing while others are more unorthodox.
“There will be a girl riding a Lime Bike onstage catching food in her mouth,“ Miller said. “ … Washington Hall was surprisingly okay with that so I didn’t have a problem with it.“
Other acts this year include lip syncs, singing and a dramatic reading of the song “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island.
“Right now, we are planning on doing it as long as it’s heavily censored so there’s no bad words,” Miller said. “So we’ll see how that goes.”
This is not the first time though that contestants at the pageant have pushed boundaries. According to junior John Desler, president of O’Neill Hall, one of the contestants last year went off script for her comedy act for the show from what she did at rehearsal. Another contestant once drank water from a beerbong.
Last year, Miss Welsh Family Hall junior Christina Murray won the title of Miss ND with a baton-twirling act. Murray is competing again this year to defend her crown.
Pam Jobin, a South Dining Hall ambassador and a judge for the pageant for the past three years, said, “I love to get to know them and their personalities. I love to [judge]; it’s such a fun night.”
This year, Jobin will be judging alongside the titleholders of Miss South Bend and Miss Great Lakes. Desler and Jobin said judges are supposed to look at the quality of the act, and how funny or moving the act was.
“It’s a combination of quality, kind of uniqueness. … It’s also a crowd factor of how much you get the crowd going,” Desler said.
“I like to go by personality,” Jobin said. “Some of the girls are just so bubbly.”
After the talents, the judges each choose their top three and the contestants with the most votes move on to the next round, which consists of traditional pageant interview questions.
“We have two professional normal questions, like a ‘How do you end world hunger?’ or something like that, and then one joke,” Desler said. “So it’s to answer the professional questions like a normal pageant person does, and then not being thrown off by the joke and making some people laugh.”
In between the two sections, O’Neill showcases short videos that various sections of O’Neill create to keep the audience engaged. This year, videos include “Special Parietals Unit” and one featuring a play on words with the word “miss.”
Each women’s hall sends one representative to compete for the title. Desler and Miller reach out to each of the dorms’ presidents to let them know the pageant is coming up and to ask for contestants.
“I think some dorms have people that really want to do it and have people who are planning on it. … Then some dorms, I assume, have to force people to do it,” Desler said. ”And then some dorms — I know Badin for sure and probably some others — have their own pageants throughout the course of the year.”
This year, freshman Alex Edwards won Badin Hall’s Miss Bullfrog pageant and will be competing with a magic act at Miss ND. Edwards said in an email she enjoyed the format of how Badin chooses their contestant because it gives the show a “Miss America” vibe and makes it easy to select one contestant.
“If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t want to do Miss Bullfrog,“ Edwards said. “I had a really big project coming up in Studio, so I was going to work on that instead of doing the pageant. Yet, my friend Amaya practically forced me to do it, so she wouldn’t have to do the pageant alone. The funny thing is she was talking smack the whole time, but it’s okay cause I won. I’m really excited and honored to represent Badin this year.”
The pageant costs five dollars to attend, and Miller said that after paying for the pageant’s production costs, the money is donated to the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
“The challenge is always getting people to buy tickets,“ Miller said. “It’s obviously for a great cause. … So I think people still view it as paying five dollars to go see a show, whereas obviously the show is great and we want people to come to it but the whole purpose of the event is to raise money for the center for the homeless and so even if people can’t go to the event, they can still donate. We have donation jars at the event if they want to donate more. That’s just the big focus of it and that’s kind of the lens that we’ve approached everything through.”