It was the morning of January 17th, 2020 – the first day of the preliminary competition for Miss New York USA.
The part of the competition that would be completed today was the preliminary private interview with the judges, and following the interview would be information about the next couple of days and rehearsals. The night before, I had gotten a spray tan and eagerly showered to wash off the excess tan. I put on makeup then got dressed in my interview outfit. I wore a black, short sleeve, faux leather dress from New York & Company that I also wore for my headshot photoshoot, gold print booties from DSW, and floral textured black stockings from Target.
Since I had two heavy bags that I did not want to carry up and down stairs to subway stations and through Grand Central, I took an Uber to the host hotel, Crowne Plaza White Plains-Downtown. I had more than enough time to get there, since I got an early start and Miss contestants needed to arrive between 9:00AM and 12:00PM. Teen contestants arrived between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM. I arrived at the hotel in a little under an hour. I made my way to the ballroom, which was the same place, in which the Pre-Pageant Orientation took place. Before entering the ballroom, I passed through the foyer, where I checked in. Upon checking in, I turned in my interview and production forms. The interview form was what the judges used to learn about contestants for interviews. The production form included information about each contestant that would be read aloud when she is competing on stage.
There was a place in the ballroom to leave our luggage and hang evening gowns. The ballroom was filled with rows of chairs, so the early contestants, like myself, waited in those chairs until we were given further instruction about interviews. After waiting a brief period of time, which felt like forever, one of the pageant staff members asked us to go to the back of the ballroom to sign up for interview times. Each interview would be two to three minutes, and multiple interviews were scheduled in each time slot. I wanted to get the interview out of the way, so I signed up for the first time slot, and I was the second interview to take place. I definitely made the right decision to arrive early, since some people who arrived later, had to wait a longer period of time between checking in and their interview.
A pageant staff member helped us get in the order in which we would be interviewing then brought us downstairs to the interview waiting room. She informed us of what we should do upon going into the interview room. She said that there would be a chair in the room facing the judges, which is where we would sit. Prior to sitting, we should introduce ourselves like this, Hi, I’m Mikayla Mizruchi then take a seat. When the timekeeper, who would sit beside the judges called time, it meant that we needed to quickly wrap up our thought then leave. If a judge were in the middle of asking a question and time was up, the judge would stop mid-sentence, and the contestant would depart the interview.
We were also informed that there would be a table with cookies and coffee. She emphasized that these were for the judges, not for contestants. At a previous pageant, as someone was leaving her interview, she decided to take part in the snacks that were meant for the judges. The judges were shocked to see this happen.
It was time for interviews to begin. The contestant with the first interview would go in the interview room, and the contestant with the following interview, being me, sat in a chair in the hall, right outside the interview room. A pageant staff member was in the hall with me as I waited to go in. Normally, I’d be really on edge if someone were striking up conversation in a stressful situation, but I felt surprisingly calm. I think I felt a sense of relief that I was finally at the point of interviewing. I asked if I should immediately go into the interview room, when the contestant, who was currently interviewing had finished, or if I should wait to be called in. She said I could go right in.
I felt a rush of nerves and also relief as I saw the first interviewee leave the interview room. I got up, and thought, Here I go. I can’t believe I’m doing this. As I entered the interview room, someone was right by the door, about to call me in. The judges seemed friendly as I introduced myself. As I answered questions, they didn’t seem particularly intimidating either. One question that I didn’t expect was something like, where does your fashion inspiration come from? I mentioned the name of a former state pageant titleholder, who I follow on social media. While much of this interview was a blur, I think I was asked a total of four questions, and while I was answering the fourth question, I was cut-off, needing to quickly wrap up my thought, due to time.
I felt totally relieved as I left the interview. I met lots of nice contestants prior to the interview, so I was so excited to see what the rest of the weekend had in store!
I went back in the room where contestants waited for their interviews to begin, and I was given my sash and contestant goodie bag. My sash represented DeWitt, which was my second choice on the form I completed. My goodie bag included items such as the pageant yearbook-style program, chocolate, reusable straws, makeup, garment bag, coffee, and an assortment of product samples.
I then made my way to another room down the hall, where I had my photo taken in my sash. Contestants would need to wear sashes at all times this weekend, with the exception of being in our hotel room and the swimsuit for Miss and activewear for Teen, as well as evening gown portions of the competition.
After my photo, I went in another room where we would eventually have our production meeting, once the room was full enough. This meeting would take place multiple times throughout the day as contestants completed interviews and the room filled up. Since I was the second person to go into this room, I knew it would be a long time until I would be leaving that room. As more interviews concluded, there was time to meet the other contestants, look through the program, and dig through the items in my goodie bag.
Time dragged on while waiting for the meeting to start, but I embraced every second of this experience.