Miss America contestants talk about their Columbus connections
Georgia is well represented at the Miss America pageant this year.
In addition to Miss Georgia Patricia Ford, who is representing the state at the national competition, other Miss America contestants with Georgia connections are Miss District of Columbia Cierra Jackson and Miss New York Camille Sims.
And then, of course, there’s the reigning Miss America Betty Cantrell, who won the national title as Miss Georgia in 2015. Cantrell will crown her successor Sunday night at the final competition, which will be held in Atlantic City, N.J.
Preliminary competitions began this week, and the final event will be aired live on Sunday from 9 to 11 p.m. on ABC.
On Tuesday night, Jackson, the 2015 Miss Columbus, won the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness competition.
All four Georgia natives competed in the Miss Georgia Pageant together in 2015, said Oz Roberts, a former Miss Georgia Pageant board member who is now at the national competition as a photographer. His daughter, Jessica, was Jackson’s princess when she was Miss Columbus. Jessica she also competed for the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen title this year.
“It’s a big deal that all of them are here,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if there have been any other states that have actually had as many contestants competing in the Miss America Pageant from one state.
“I think it’s significant and it shows the quality of the women that we have competing in our state that are smart and talented,” he said. “It’s about developing young women for society.”
While Cantrell and Ford won Miss Georgia pageants in 2015 and 2016 respectively, Jackson and Sims took less direct routes to the Miss America pageant. Jackson, who moved to Washington, D.C., last year for a fellowship, was crowned Miss District of Columbia earlier this year; and Sims, a recent graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., was crowned Miss New York while living there.
Sims, originally from Atlanta, also was the first black Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen six years ago, said Roberts.
Cantrell is from Warner Robins and Ford is from Capital City.
On Wednesday, Jackson and Sims answered questions that the Ledge-Enquirer submitted by email. Jackson said she and the other Georgia contestants shared a stage at the Miss Georgia Pageant a year ago hoping to become Miss America.
“One of us has already accomplished that dream and now three of us are working to accomplish that same dream,” she said. “It’s a blessing and I’m thankful for that sisterhood and how we’re able to grow with one another.”