Local lovelies do well at Miss USA Pageant
Franklin County Times
BIRMINGHAM – Two local ladies made a winning impression at the Miss USA pageants held late October at Samford University's Wright Center.
Russellville natives Hannah Saylor and Madeline Mitchell were each awarded Miss Photogenic and chosen as Top 5 finalists.
"It was exciting that two RHS girls won because it was a bigger pageant, and we didn't know anyone we were competing against," said Mitchell.
Saylor, a senior at Russellville High School, competed in the Miss Alabama Teen USA pageant, which included 28 participants ages 15-18. Saylor was named Miss Photogenic and third alternate to pageant winner Courtney Parker.
Mitchell, a 2007 Russellville graduate and University of Alabama freshman, participated in the Miss Alabama USA pageant, which included 25 contestants ages 18-26. Mitchell, who won the Miss Northwest Alabama scholarship in May, was awarded Miss Photogenic and second alternate to pageant winner Keisha Walding.
"This allowed me to meet new people and it gave me a lot of experience, and the interview was a lot better because it was one-on-one instead of having to talk to three judges at the same time," said Mitchell.
Both pageants were comprised of three primary competitions, including evening wear, swimsuit and interview. The final five contestants were also required to answer a timed on-stage question.
"You can be asked anything," Mitchell said. "I was asked, 'What is the difference between a lady and a woman?' and that is the basically the same thing."
Saylor said the final question could be pulled from a variety of topics.
"The on-stage question is the most challenging part because you never know what you'll be asked, and you're put on the spot because you only have 30 seconds to answer," Saylor said.
Saylor said she decided to participate after talking to Mitchell, who first competed in 2006 after learning of the pageant from Russellville graduate Mallory Wooten, who is a former Miss Alabama USA participant.
"I found out from Madeline, so I went last year and watched her compete," said Saylor, who wore a gold evening gown accented by rhinestones and a sheer overlay. "My mom helped me a lot with the pageant, and she always goes looking for dresses with me."
Mitchell also credited family for their support.
"Our moms were torn up because they're used to talking to us while we're at a pageant. They weren't able to check in because we weren't allowed to use our cell phones or even receive text messages – I guess the pageant wanted to make sure we weren't getting extra information," said Mitchell, who wore a gold velvet gown with a close-fitting bodice. "My family is very supportive, even my (grandfather) – he bought my dress and even goes to the pageants."