Tiara Magazine Interview

With Nicole Rash – Ms. America 2012


Tell us about your national title. When did you win your title and what were the areas of competition. The Ms. America Pageant is a national level title for women ages 26 and up, either single, married, or divorced, and with or without children. I was awarded the title of Ms. Missouri 2012 in June through a selection process, including submitting a picture and interviewing over the phone, which entitled me to compete in the national competition. I then won the title of Ms. America 2012 this past April in Anaheim, California at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Anaheim Hotel where the pageant was held. The areas of competition that I competed in included a private interview, fashion/runway wear, sportswear, evening gown, and on-stage question each of which comprised 20% of the overall score.

It appears that the Ms. Division is the most popular division in all of pageantry. Why do you think this has happened? Which demographic do you represent as a Ms. Titleholder? I believe that the Ms. Division is so popular because it encompasses a lot more women than the other divisions. In Ms. America, for example, you can be single, married, divorced, and with or without children so it opens up the competition to a lot larger demographic than the Miss or Mrs. Pageants. Also, many women have an interest in pageants when they are younger but may be too afraid to try it, but once they grow into themselves and become more comfortable with their mind, bodies, and beliefs, they have an opportunity to compete and many decide to give it a try! I represent a very large demographic as Ms. America 2012 as 26 and up could pretty much be anyone! I’m honored to represent a division that shows that women can be and are beautiful at any age, and that we can age gracefully and without fear despite society’s focus on youth and anti-aging. Women of all ages need role models and the Ms. Pageants provide that.

What types of appearances have you made as Ms. America 2012? I have been able to work with many great organizations as Ms. America 2012 including the Guard a Heart Foundation, which is the national platform of the Ms. America Pageant, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital, and VOICE a youth smoking prevention and awareness program in Indiana, among others.  I have also interviewed on numerous radio and television stations throughout the country, I have been featured in magazines and on websites that focus on female empowerment, and I have traveled to various states working with sponsors such as Ms. Bellezza Jewelry and Claire’s Collection evening gowns. Attending other pageants as a visiting titleholder is always fun as well and I’m also judging a few pageants which is always interesting to see how a pageant works from the other side of the judging table.

What do you hope to leave behind as your legacy as Ms. America 2012? As a titleholder in any system you have to know going in that you’re not going to be able to please everyone, but I just hope that I am able to leave a lasting positive impression through my hard work and dedication to my platform, “Breathe Easy – Youth Smoking Prevention,” the sacrifice of time I give to make as many appearances and performances as possible, and my perseverance in making a difference in the lives of as many people as I can. Ultimately, I would really like to be able to somehow influence legislature in my state, or throughout the U.S., to implement smoking bans in all public places for the health and safety of people of all ages, but even if I am not able to achieve this as Ms. America, that doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying after my year of service.

Volunteerism is dear to your heart. Tell us which charities you fully support and why. Of course I support the Guard a Heart Foundation, the national platform of the Ms. America Pageant, because I believe in their mission to help prevent heart disease, the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States. I also support Children’s Miracle Network because I have experienced first hand the difference that this organization makes in the lives of children and their families by volunteering at the hospitals and visiting with the patients. The Breast Cancer Foundation is also dear to my heart because of the loss that my family and friends have endured due to this disease, but truly any organization that strives to help make other’s lives better is an organization worth getting involved in for me.

What is your pageant style? My pageant style could be described as soft, elegant, flowing, and glowing. I chose these words because in a pageant, a contestant is basically trying to emulate a “perfect woman,” and I think that these words describe what I think a perfect woman should be. She should be soft, sweet, charismatic, likeable, and relatable as well as elegant, statuesque, and timeless. I personally like flowing fabrics and gowns because I love the movement and elegance that it exudes. Finally, a winner in life, and in pageants, glows inside and out with confidence in herself, with her warm, inviting smile, and of course with some literally glowing and sparkling rhinestones!

What is your everyday style? My everyday style could be described as timeless, classic, polished and put together.  I have always been drawn to the styles of timeless beauties such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Lady Diana, and Jackie O., because I think their styles not only represented themselves in their era but it represented a femininity that has been somewhat lost throughout the generations. Also, although I appreciate their sense of style and charisma, I don’t want to dress like I’m stuck in the 40’s or 50’s either, so modern, stylish pieces that are very feminine, have style, are put together from head to toe with the right amount of accessories are what I look for in my every day look.

What does your pageantry experience entail? How has this shaped you into the woman you are today? My pageantry experience started when I was fairly young as my grandma Doris decided that pageants would be a fun activity for my sister and I to share with her. I competed in a few local pageants as a child and then moved onto Miss pageants in high school including our local Miss Blueberry Festival Pageant and Junior Miss. I always did fairly well in competitions, due mostly I think to my modeling experience, but it wasn’t until college that I really became interested because of the scholarship and volunteer opportunities. I competed for two years in the Miss America system before winning the Miss Indiana title and have since only competed in one other pageant where I came away with the Ms. America title! I have definitely been bitten by the pageant bug again though and want to continue competing in other pageants in the future.

Do you prefer pageantry or modeling? I actually prefer pageantry because I feel like they have a more positive focus and women are able to be more themselves. In modeling you’re told what to do, what to wear, what to look like, what to say, and basically who to be in each campaign you participate in. Whereas in pageants, though you are vying for the chance to represent a brand, you have more freedom in your wardrobe, styling, and platform choices and you’re able to advocate for things that are important to you and be a role model for others. Plus, modeling has started to portray such a distorted image of what true beauty is with the overuse of Photoshop and the emphasis on being young and frighteningly thin, so I think pageants are on the rise because it represents a more realistic and attainable portrayal of beauty.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? This has been a big year for me so far: I have graduated from college, Magna Cum Laude, with a bachelor’s in Spanish, I got engaged and am getting married in September to my best friend, Grant, and I became Ms. Missouri and then won the title of Ms. America! So, though there are many things that I want to accomplish in the next 5 years, who knows what will come my way. I can definitely see myself competing in more pageants, especially since I’ll become eligible for Mrs. Pageants, I’ll stay involved in my community and with my platform, I plan to start my own business as a public speaking and pageant preparation coach, and I’m sure my future husband and I will be looking forward to children at that point as well. No matter what happens, I’m excited for what the future holds and I know that God has a great plan for us.

What are your future pageant goals?  As I said, I definitely want to continue competing in pageants, as it is a great source of joy for me and a wonderful outlet for what I’m passionate about. Since I’m getting married in September, I want to continue competing in the Ms. and/or Mrs. divisions and hopefully end up with a nice collection of titles and experiences to tell my kids about someday.

Where can we learn more about you? You can visit my personal website: www.nicolerash.com to find more information about my pageant and professional journey thus far. There you’ll find my bio, resumes, videos, pictures, and more! A link to my Wikipedia page, which goes a little more in depth about my personal life, can also be found on my website.

I also have a Facebook fan page at: www.facebook.com/nicolerash13

You can follow me on twitter: @nicole_rash

And, my list of appearances can be found on the Ms. America website: www.msamericapageant.com

What are some of your major achievements? I think it is important to be proud of every achievement in life, big or small, and there are many things that I have done in my life that I have to be proud of. However, to narrow it down, my top 3 achievements would have to be…

1. This may seem cliché, but after living in Los Angeles for several years, chasing my ‘dreams’ of becoming famous, and seeing how fame can seriously impact people in such a negative way, I consider my top achievement as deciding to move back to the mid-west, finding God and my purpose again, and realizing what is really important in life – God & faith, family & people who truly care for and about you, and having & fulfilling a purpose.

2. Finally graduating from a university, and with honors, considering my crazy path to get there, I am really proud of my bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Ball State University. It proved to myself, and everyone else, that I complete what I start, that education is truly important to me, and that attractive women, even those that compete in pageants, are intelligent too.

3. Of course, winning titles such as Miss Indiana 2007, 1st runner-up to Miss America 2008, and Ms. America 2012 are huge accomplishments that I am very proud of, but the best part of achievements such as these, for me, is inspiring other people to better themselves and change their lives in a positive way. Whether it be a middle-aged women who gains the confidence and decides to compete in a pageant for the first time or a 15-year-old boy who decides that he doesn’t have to smoke to be ‘cool,’ these are the real achievements that a crown and a title give a “beauty queen” and they’re what I’m most proud of when it comes to being a multiple pageant winner.

How can girls learn more about the Ms. America pageant?
You can learn more about the Ms. America Pageant on their website: www.msamericapageant.com
as well as on their Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/msamericapageant
You can follow me on the Ms. America twitter too: @MsAmerica
And remember, the pageant is open to any women 26 years of age and up no matter your marital status! Pageants can really have such a positive influence on your life as well as on many other people’s lives. This is your chance! Go for it!

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know? I just want to say “thank you” to everyone who has supported me, cheered me on, and contributed to my success, whether it was directly as family & friends or indirectly as fans and admirers. I could not have been as successful as I am had it not been for all of the wonderful people who gave of their time, money, love, and knowledge to help me grow and become the person that I am today. So, thank you for continuing to believe in me and what pageants can do for people everywhere.