If you count participating in a high school pageant, then Western Carolina University sophomore Lindsey Woodward has competed in just two pageants in her life – and won them both.
However, the stakes have risen as Woodward competes in her third pageant, Miss North Carolina, which began with an interview Wednesday, June 19, and will conclude at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in Raleigh. The winner will represent North Carolina in the Miss America pageant later this year.
Unlike most of the 48 other contests in this week’s competition, Woodward didn’t grow up competing in pageants. It wasn’t until her senior year at Ashbrook High School in Gastonia that a friend convinced her to compete for Miss Ashbrook. Woodward did, and won.
When she returned the following year to pass on her crown, Woodward saw a flyer for the Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston and Miss Mount Holly pageant.
“I thought it would be really cool to do that since it’s more of a real pageant,” she said. “I ended up winning the Miss Mount Holly title. It was all very new to me. I didn’t know what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun.”
The fun was just beginning. Following the pageant, the three winners went to a back room for a meeting. It was at that time Woodward, a sophomore elementary education major from Gastonia, discovered all three would be competing for Miss North Carolina.
“I turned and looked at my mom and my jaw just dropped,” Woodward said. “I absolutely knew nothing about any pageant whatsoever. I never saw myself as a pageant girl. I was incredibly shocked, but at the same time, I felt really lucky because not a lot of girls get the opportunity to be able to do this.”
To prepare for the pageant, Woodward said the Miss Mount Holly committee in Gastonia put her through mock interviews. She also practiced her talent routine in front of them. Woodward will be singing a musical theatre song.
Her platform is the foster care system. Woodward’s sister is a foster care parent, and meeting her foster children helped Woodward decided she wanted to do something to help that population.
“So far, I participated in an event that raised awareness to our community about being more involved by being a foster parent, or adopting,” Woodward said. “I’ve also raised a lot of money to give to foster families that I know personally, and also to the Department of Human Services in my community.
“My favorite event that I went to was at my church where I spoke to groups about how they could be involved in the foster care system without having to be a foster family. I realized that a lot of people can’t afford to do that, or don’t have the time. But there are other ways you can be involved like donating money, donating groceries, or even just praying for foster kids and foster families helps a lot.”
Prior to Saturday’s event, the public can have a voice in who the top 15 finalists will be by voting for their favorite contestant at abc11.com/missnc.