Editors Note: This is the second in a multi-part series about the process of the Miss LSU-USA Pageant.
As the Miss LSU—USA Pageant approaches, we wanted to learn more about the contestants who will be competing for the crown — how they are preparing for the big night and what they’re looking forward to experiencing. Among these contestants, DIG caught up with Michelle Hutchinson, pre-med major/kinesiology; Alison Prejean, graphic design major; Emilie Hebert, mass communications major; Bria Davis, business major with a minor in human resources; Brittany Bernard, business management major; and Gabrielle Borel, kinesiology with a minor in biology. Here is what they shared with us:
DIG: With the big night approaching, how have you been preparing yourself physically for the pageant?
Alison Prejean: Basically, for the past three months or so I’ve been doing yogalates, which is yoga and pilates – because I work there. And just doing cardio and lots of weight training. I used to do once a day, but now I’ve kind of bumped it up to twice a day.
Michelle Hutchinson: I’ve been increasing my workouts as well. I work at Definitions gym, so I’ve been there in the mornings, and I’ve been there at night mainly increasing my cardio. I’ve always been really big into lifting weights. Besides that, keeping up with my calories a lot more using my Fitness Pal, which is amazing. Everyone should get that app [laughs].
Brittany Bernard: Same as Allison, I’ve been doing a lot of yogalates. Lifting weights, watching what I eat. Since about the past three months, I’ve been really strict on myself.
DIG: As the date approaches, are you getting more nervous, less nervous, no nerves at all [laughs].
Bernard: I’m just excited. I’ve been prepping for this. I think about it all the time, every day. I’m just ready for it to be here.
Emilie Hebert: So, I was really, really nervous before we started practices…but once we started doing practices about six weeks before the date of the pageant, that’s when my excitement started kicking in. I’m ready for it to be here, but I’m not ready for it to be over because it’s been really fun.
Prejean: I’m really excited for it to be here. I’m not as nervous anymore because this is my fourth year to do it.
So I think now I’m just ready to show what I’ve done, show what I’ve been working on, and just kind of ready to present myself as the best person I can be for the pageant.
Davis: I’m still like…really nervous [laughs]. It’s just because this is my first pageant that I’ve ever done. But it’s been really easy with all the guys. They are all super sweet. They are good people inside and out, I know that is so cliché, but it really is true. They do so much for the community. They make it so much easier, but I just don’t know what to expect.
DIG: Each week you have practices to prepare you for the pageant, I know you recently had a practice where someone came in and gave you guys interviewing tips. Out of all the practices so far which has been your favorite or the one you learned most from?
Hutchinson: My favorite has been the hair and makeup tutorial. I love doing my makeup. I look at Youtube videos of makeup tutorials all the time. So it was cool to actually learn from someone in person.
Hebert: My favorite was the interview practice because she really helped us zone in on what makes each of us unique and what to focus on and what to say – but staying true to yourself.
Davis: Definitely interview. It was something that I feel will benefit us for the pageant but also we’re all in college, we all want a career after we graduate. So we all got advise from her that will help us with interviews for jobs after we graduate.
DIG: I know there are different parts that make up the pageant. You have opening number, the interviewing portion, the swimsuit portion, and the evening gown portion. Out of those, which one do you feel is or will be your favorite?
Hutchinson: I’m looking forward to the swimsuit portion of the pageant.
Prejean: Evening gown just because I’ve had my gown since around Christmas time and every time I put it one I get this magical feeling.
Davis: Evening gown. I’m looking forward to seeing all the other girls’ dresses. Just to see everyone really pretty in their gowns. It’s like prom all over again.
Bernard: Definitely evening grown. I’m not excited for swimsuit, it freaks me out [laughs].
Gabrielle Borel: Actually, I think I’d say swimsuit just because I have been working so hard. That’s kind of what my biggest goal in doing this was.
DIG: Philanthropy is a really big part of the pageant, what type of philanthropy are you involved with?
Hebert: So with my sorority, Tri Delta—our national philanthropy is St. Jude Children Research Hospital, so we do a lot of work with that. I got involved with St. Jude Up Til Dawn, which is another on-campus fundraiser. So if I do win, I would like to continue working for St. Jude.
Borel: So my sorority is Delta Gamma, and our philanthropy is service for sight, and we work with a local school for the visually impaired, Louisiana School of Deaf and Visually Impaired – it’s on Brightside. And once a week we go sit with the students and talk to them, it’s really hard to see because a lot of the students there don’t see their families much because it is a boarding school. Outside of that, I do also drive a visually impaired woman home from work, and her name is Amber, and she’s a grad student, she’s amazing. I’m glad to get that one-on-one with her and see the impact I can make.
DIG: What will your reaction be if you’re announced winner of Miss LSU?
Prejean: This is my fourth year to do the pageant. My first year, I was just kind of doing it to cross it off my bucket list. I had seen girls that I knew do it and I was like wow they are amazing women, and I want to be like them. So I’m coming up on my fourth year, and I have dreams about winning where I just cry, and it’s not a pretty cry, it is a straight up ugly cry, I might faint.
Hebert: If any pageant girl tells you they have practiced their crowning moment, they’re lying. Everyone does it. And same with Alison, I’m such an ugly crier. I definitely have waterproof mascara; hopefully, it can withstand the tears because I’ll be crying.
Hutchinson: I’d have a Miss Universe moment where I’m like ‘…wait is this actually me or is it someone else?’
Borel: I’d start breaking it down. Dancing on stage [Laughs].
DIG: What’s one of your biggest fears about the pageant?
Davis: My biggest fear is tripping over my dress. I don’t want to fall!
Bernard: Definitely on stage question. I just feel that if you’ve made it to top 5 you’ve made a big accomplishment and you just have one more question. It’s a lot of pressure, so I’m definitely scared about that.
To learn more about the event or purchase your ticket for Miss LSU – USA 2016 Pageant, please visit MissLSUUSAPageant.wordpress.com.