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Interview with Skylee Lawton, Miss New York Earth USA

Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey for my pageant lockdown blog it’s been amazing getting to know fellow pageant queens from across the world.

What made you enter pageants ?

I started pageantry because it is a great way to advocate for charity or nonprofit organizations and to bring about awareness for positive social change. I am from a small town where it’s very hard to get your voice heard. Pageantry is my way of making my voice louder.

Have you competed before if so can you tell us about your journey?

I competed in one other pageant before Miss New York Earth USA, but this is my first title. My first pageant was intimidating. I was surrounded by amazing, beautiful, intelligent and passionate women and every single person I met was incredibly supportive and nice. I still talk to a lot of those girls now! I won an award for best interview but I didn’t place. The first things that came into my mind after I got off stage were, how can I better myself, and when can I do this again! It was such as amazing experience and I definitely got hooked.

What made you decide to compete in Miss Earth USA ?

Miss Earth USA 2016, Corrin Stellakis, was my coach for my first pageant. She knew how important climate action and advocacy were to me and she was the one who told me about the Miss Earth Organization. I decided to compete because I’ve seen through past titleholders like Miss Earth 2011, Olga Álava, how much change can happen when the right person has a title. Now that I am Miss New York Earth, I have access to media and connections to people across the country that I didn’t have before. I will be a voice for climate action, a role model and an educator to children with my program #ThinkUp – Turn Trash To Treasure.

What the best thing that pageants have taught you?

Most people don’t realize how much pageantry can really teach you about yourself. Being new to pageantry I learned quickly how much work goes into training and being prepared for a pageant. We learn different runway walks, public speaking skills, interview skills, and I try to always stay up-to-date on current events and social/environmental issues. Just like in sports, pageants require a lot of mental strength. Being on stage and public speaking, it is a lot of pressure and requires a lot of confidence, which is not always easy. I have learned a lot through pageantry about how to be my most confident self. I always strive to be the best person I can be as a unique individual and recognize the women I compete against are just as unique in their own ways. I can appreciate the intelligence, beauty, passion and individuality of my competitors without tearing myself down.

What’s your pageant platform and why ?

My platform is #Think Up – Turn Trash To Treasure. This is an educational program aimed at teaching people, especially children, the benefits of up-cycling and sustainability. As a dance teacher, my students mean the world to me and I wanted to give them a hands-on program outside our studio to get involved in our community and learn about climate actions. I want to expand my platform during my reign at schools and community centers to teach kids how to live sustainable lives at a young age so it becomes second-nature when they grow up.

What’s your dream title ?

My dream title is Miss Earth!

How did it feel when you won Miss New York Earth and what would it mean to you if you win Miss Earth USA ?

When I won Miss New York Earth I was so excited and winning Miss Earth USA would mean the world to me. It would be an honor for me to be the face of such an amazing organization like Miss Earth for our entire country. The mission of Miss Earth, and being a beauty for a cause are incredibly important to me. It would also be the best accumulation of all my hard work and training. I truly believe in the potential of my program #ThinkUp and in myself as a role model. I hope the judges will see that as well when I compete in Las Vegas!

What’s the best advice you have for fellow pageant queens ?

My best advice to fellow pageant queens is to find what you are truly passionate about. It’s easy to tell when someone is really passionate about something and when they are faking it. If you advocate for something you care about, not only does it feel amazing but theres a transparency your supporters can feel that leads to a better connection and more positive changes. It also makes your reign better and more impactful when you really connect to the platform you speak about.

What have you been doing in the run up to the final of Miss Earth USA ?

I have been training for nationals non-stop since I won my title. I workout all the time and make sure to eat organic, natural foods to keep my body feeling energetic and healthy. I have also been doing a lot of media interviews, talking about my platform and using social media to connect with my followers. Since New York is in lockdown, I cannot visit schools or make appearances like I planned. But I feel lucky we have social media. I can still educate others on the benefits of up-cycling, and show what other organizations/companies are doing to help reverse climate change. I also show the effects of climate change on our planet and how we as society can not only change our lives to be more sustainable, but to use our voices to tell our government we want climate action now.

Favourite ever appearance ?

I haven’t been able to make in-person appearances yet but I have done interviews with Crown Talk with Brygundy, PageantryNOW, Miss Earth Moments as well as now with Pageant Magazine. I am thankful for every opportunity given to me to talk about Miss Earth, my title and my platform. I cannot wait for the end of this pandemic when everyone is safe, healthy and I can finally go make appearances.

How has the lockdown due to Covid19 effected your pageant journey ?

The Covid-19 lockdown meant that our state title pageant had to be virtual. Instead of an on-stage crowning moment, I got a call from our state director Yanery, telling me I had won. While of course I would’ve liked thing to be different, I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything. I was still excited, I still cried and I still got to celebrate with my mom. That’s all I truly needed. In preparation for the national pageant, I have been working out at home, using my social media to connect with others and virtually training with my coaches.

What makes a good pageant role model ?

A good pageant role model not only uses their voice to impact positive change, but helps to magnify the voices of others who are working towards similar goals. It’s about being true to who you are and motivating others to be the best they can be. In the Miss Earth organization, it’s also about being an educator/activist for climate action, and environmental conservation and inspiring others to get involved.

What’s your favourite pageant round ?

While I enjoy all areas of competing in pageantry, my favorite pageant round is interview. That’s when the judges can really get to know me, know why I’m competing and see the passion I have for my work.

How do you deal with pageant nerves ?

As someone with anxiety, I use a lot of different ways to combat pageant nerves. But even those who don’t have anxiety are still prone to pre-stage nerves. I always get the best pep-talks from my grandma, reality-talks from my mom, inspiration/instruction from my coach and help from my therapist. Right before I go on stage I take a breath, ground myself and just focus on the music. I also repeat in my head “you got this” constantly!

I also want to note that getting a therapist has been the smartest decision I could make and I truly believe everyone should have one. Mental health education is incredibly important to me and a social issue I care about. I want to show that people with anxiety don’t have to let their fears run their lives. Negative stigmatism surrounding mental health, education and therapy are topics I will also be discussing during my reign.

Facebook Takeover – Saturday 16th May

I have a social media takeover next Saturday, May 16, on my Miss New York Earth Facebook page. I will be online all day and will be going live from 9:00-9:30 pm to answer any and all questions.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey and your platform it’s been lovely reading your answers and I wish you all the best at the Miss Earth USA Final. Much love Charlotte, Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.

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