One dream has come true for Betty Cantrell but she has others.
Late Saturday night, the reigning Miss Warner Robins was named Miss Georgia in front of a packed house at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
She now dreams of becoming Miss America and having a successful theater career on Broadway in New York City.
Sunday morning, Cantrell said there is nowhere she feels more at home than on a stage, whether she is singing or acting.
“It is my favorite place to be. The bigger the audience, the better. I am thrilled to be going to the Miss America Pageant and getting to perform in front of so many people, my largest audience ever ,” she said.
At the Miss America pageant this September in Atlantic City, N.J., she will give an opera performance such as the one that twice has won her the talent competition in the Miss Georgia pageant.
Though she enjoys different music genres, she feels opera makes her stand out among other competing singers who are doing a popular tune or a number from a Broadway show.
“When I sing I want the audience, not just the judges, to feel the emotion. I want to make them feel something,” Cantrell said.
She has been attending Mercer University but plans to transfer to a conservatory to study musical theater.
The 20-year-old Cantrell began taking voice lessons when she was in the eighth grade. She began by imitating her instructor who sang opera.
“I then developed a voice of my own,” she said.
Cantrell competed once before in the Miss Georgia Pageant as Miss Presidential Pathways. She was asked when she began to think she might win this year’s crown.
“I thought if I made the top 10 I would be blessed and that if I made the top five I would be content. I hoped I would be happy for anyone who won. When it gets down to five you begin to think you have a chance. Listening to others being interviewed I prayed I would be able to stay calm and give good responses like they did. To be named the winner was just surreal.”
She said she only got about two hours of sleep after winning.
Around lunchtime, she still had not seen any video of her crowning. “I hope I didn’t make any stupid faces,” said Cantrell, laughing.
In her resume, Cantrell said she resides in Warner Robins on 700 acres managed for wildlife. She said she drives a full-sized Deere tractor and can plow and seed a field. She can also shoot a shotgun and skin a rabbit.
Her father is a nutritionist and both parents on physical therapists. She said growing up in a family where good nutrition was emphasized led to her platform issue of “Healthy Georgia. Strong America.”
“Child obesity is a real problem ,” she said. “ I grew up eating healthy. Others are not that fortunate."
She was asked why she chose to get involved with the pageant.
“The Miss America pageant provided an outlet for me to pursue my career ambitions and fulfill my desire to serve the people of my state. Fulfilling my passion for my platform and taking it nationwide, while at the same time sharpening the skills I need for a career on Broadway, will be possible though this organization.”
She is looking forward to making the personal appearances. “I made more than 70 as Miss Warner Robins. I love it. I know I will make more now,” she said.
She laughed and said the hard part was getting ready for them, fixing her hair and makeup.
“That’s about 90 minutes,” she said.