Selena Krivoruchko hasn’t competed in pageants all of her life.
In fact, five years ago, she never dreamed she’d be a finalist in the National American Miss Washington State Pageant this August.
But after receiving a mysterious referral letter one day she decided to try it out.
“I was kind of surprised because I’ve always seen [pageanters] as the girls that are always the really skinny ones and the really pretty ones,” said Selena, 16, in an interview. “[But] there’s no swimsuit contests, it’s just about becoming a better spokesperson and being in front of crowds so it was really cool to see that someone referred me even though I’m not the skinniest person in the world.”
The National American Miss Washington State Pageant was formed on the basis of just that — pageant finalists are judged on their communication skills, personal introduction and their poise and appearance in the formal wear section of the pageant, not superficial beauty standards.
“Braces, glasses, skin problems, varying heights and many other conditions are all just a part of being young,” the National American Miss organization states on their website. “The judges are giving you scores based on where you are in life, just the way you are.”
Selena, a Federal Way resident and student at Todd Beamer High School, will compete in the Miss Washington Junior Teen age division, one of five age divisions, set to take place throughout Aug. 7-10 at Hotel Murano in Tacoma.
After Selena was referred, she attended a mock interview, where she was chosen to compete as a finalist. Then came the training.
“I’m really excited to know how the interview process goes because when I went to training to see what kind of questions would be asked … they will ask you just about anything,” Selena said. “One question they asked us was, ‘You’re handed a banana phone. It’s ringing, answer it. Who is it?’”
Selena said at first she and her friends sat there for a moment, perplexed.
“You have to be creative,” she said, adding that she and her friends decided it would be the president on the other line. “They’re looking for what’s your first reaction to that.”
She said contestants will be asked to give a personal introduction, which will include standing on stage in front of the judges and stating their name, where they live, grade level and something interesting about themselves, such was what they want to do in the future.
Selena’s “something interesting” is to turn her photography hobby into a professional career, as well as one day own her own advertising company.
She plans to read the quote: “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them,” by Elliott Erwitt, an advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white photos.
Selena has also prepared for probably the most anticipated part of the night by purchasing what she calls her “princess gown.”
“It’s kind of like an aqua sea foam green color,” she said, lighting up. “It shimmers at the skirt and at the waist it has these rhinestones that kind of look like they’re creating leaves around my waste and it’s also strapless.”
“Five years ago I wasn’t as girly as I am now,” she said. “I used to hate wearing dresses and skirts and then I just got into it.
Selena explained she’ll showcase her poise by standing with what is called her “pretty feet,” or one foot at 12-o-clock and the other at 10.
“It’s supposed to help you so you don’t play with your hands while you stand in front when you’re doing your personal introduction,” she said. “It’s just so you don’t look nervous. It keeps you from getting nervous.”
And as a first-time pageant finalist, yes, she’s nervous.
The winner of the pageant will receive $1,000, the official crown and banner, a bouquet of roses and air transportation to compete in the National Pageant in California. The winner will also get to experience a complimentary tour of Hollywood and two VIP tickets to Disneyland.
If Selena wins, she would use some of it for shopping but the rest for her college tuition.
Selena balances her 3.9 grade point average with volleyball, track and field and knocking down pins with Todd Beamer’s first bowling team.
And when she’s not studying, doing school sports or practicing one of the three instruments she can play — saxophone, flute and piccolo — she’s riding dirt bikes with her dad, helping the community as a Girl Scout and volunteering at Camp Sunshine in the summer. Camp Sunshine, a camp for children and teens with disabilities, is especially meaningful since her brother grew up with cerebral palsy.
“It’s a lot of fun hanging out with the campers, making them smile and just seeing how they’re just so happy about the little things in life,” she said, adding that this summer was her fourth time volunteering as a camp counselor.
Her short-term goals include becoming the Todd Beamer band’s drum major and after high school she hopes to continue her education at the Seattle Art Institute or the University of Washington.
Selena currently has five local sponsors: Go-Driving School, Cisco Insurance Agency, Sound Properties, RJ Editing and Service Business Equipment and Sales.
The National American Miss Pageants award $1.5 million in cash and scholarships annually.
For more information, visit www.namiss.com.