Reporters' Blog

Find posts by keyword
Find posts by date


An inside look at the Miss USA competition

by Teresa Bell

Posted on March 20, 2007 at 12:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

The following is a blog from Sharitha McKenzie, the current Miss Oregon who is in Los Angeles this week, preparing for Friday's Miss USA pageant:

Well, I'm sad that I haven't gotten to write about my experience before now but my mother sent me this laptop a few days ago and they have us going so much I'm too tired to write. Let me just recap my week and also vent for a moment.

My plane landed at 2:35 Thursday the 8th of March and as soon as I got to the airport, they were not letting anyone in or out for security reasons. The first thing that came to my head was 9/11 and I was sitting in the airport with my crown and sash on with people starring at me. One guy even said, "Gee, she must be proud of herself wearing that sash everywhere." I hate comments like that. If they only knew what I was here to do.

So, as usual, the airport TSA people never tell you what is going on so I found out that a guy had metal and different items in his (check this out) one of his organs. Weird! Anyway, so I waited for an hour in the airport and then went to get my luggage but a schedule service had already gathered it for me. I brought 5 bags not including my purse and my state gift.

We waited for my roommate, Miss Vermont, as Rosalin, one of the two people who escorted us to the hotel, cussed a driver out. Our bags were in one car and Jessica and I were escorted in a sedan with tinted windows. We arrived at the hotel and as soon as I got there, they fitted me for swimsuits, my Tadashi dress, and shoes. I did interviews, answered questions for the judges and they gave me free stuff as well.

Some of the girls had already been here for a whole day and were done in two days with what took me one day. I was so exhausted that day and very overwhelmed.

March 9th
I had my swim wear photo shoot, my Fadil shoot, a promo for NBC and a interview for the Internet. I waited so long for my Fadil shoot, I was the very last person to shoot with him out of all the states. A guy with dreds curled my hair for Fadil and a lady named Daniel did an awesome job on my makeup. I got so cold waiting I felt myself getting sick. My throat was hurting and my body felt like it was shutting down.

For the swimwear shoot, I brought my own makeup and coached her through it. She didn't seem bothered by it and she used the makeup I gave her. But for the Fadil shot, none of my own makeup was used, only the base I had on from earlier that day.

We had a welcome cocktail event in the Wilshire Ballroom and a lot of media were there. I got to meet Tara Conner, Miss USA 2007, and took a pic with her. During the party they pretty much forced us to mingle with sponsors, a lot of whom were men who were intoxicated.

I got dizzy and had to sit down for about a half an hour. I was running a fever and felt the way I did when I fainted in the Post Office two years ago. The nurse stayed by me for about an hour. I started to feel better and stood up and Esther the PR women for Miss Universe made me dance. It's so funny how "Wagging the Dog" works; everywhere we've gone, we've had to fake like we're having fun to put it on the Internet for people to think we're doing more than we are. Dont get me wrong we are busy, but it's also a lot of hurry up and wait. I wore a burnt orange cocktail dress from Dee's.

March 10th
Tadashi Dinner party - I wore a black cocktail dress from Dee's.
We rehearsed all day and went to meet Mr Tadashi . One of the waiters was from Oregon and asked if he could take me out while I was in LA. LoL He informed that this was something like a D List party that the people we were meeting were nobodys. LOL A lot of them were designers and friends of Tadashi. His house was wonderful but the party was outside and it was so cold. I was shivering because I was already sick but I mingled, ate and walked around different parts of his house.

I met The guy who knows Tami Farrell and said that she talks about me all the time and he couldn't wait to meet me. I think his name was Josh, he works for Mikoimoto, the jeweler who makes the crowns for Miss USA, Miss Universe and Teen USA. We spent about two hours there and by the time we left I wasn't feeling well at all.

March 11th
Mexican Restaurant Olvera

March 12th
Universal Studio tour
Group swim photo, lots of media, only selecting certain girls to interview with media. Felt really short. The silver shoes don't make me taller or do anything for elongating me. I talked with Miss Nebraska USA about not believing in the national system but in the state systems.

Hard Rock Cafe autograph signing. Pageant seeming political.

March 14th
Jay Leno
Night Club gone bad, girls hungry attacking the waiter, porno director handing out cards at rehearsal.

March 15th
10-5 rehearsal and Kings hockey game, only picking certain girls to go on the ice to shoot the hockey puck.

March 16th
Laker game, boring tour of Disney Hall. Falling asleep on the bus. Felt good today. This week have been feeling like I don't stand out and am just a number. Just need to rip my interview so that they know who the winner should be.

The Lakers played the Blazers and Meagan and I had a friendly battle the whole game. Not sick anymore and am ready to compete. Its game time, time to get into the phone booth.

March 17th- Saturday
Its 2:27pm and we oddly have a break until 5:15
At 5:15 were going to a movie premier to see a movie called Disturbia. We just came back from our BEST Buddies community service and basketball tournament. The Best Buddies are an organization that advocates for people with Down Syndrome. We got there and I was in the Tiger group.

All of the girls and Best Buddies were on teams. They were about 7 or 8 teams. I was standing there waiting to see who was on my team and a women I did not recognize came up and said, "yeah, I'm on this team." I looked closer and lo and behold it was Miss Universe Zuleyka Mendoza Rivera. She is so beautiful I starred at her the whole time. I don't think I recognized her at first because she gained a lot of weight since she won Miss Universe. Don't get me wrong, she has curves, butt, thighs and I like the look. Many people don't share my opinion but then again, we live in an Eurocentric society in America where everyone is obsessed with being thin. In my family we're all about being voluptuos but healthy as well. Im 123lbs now which is the lowest Ive been since the 7th grade and my family was looking at me before I left to come to Miss USA and was like, "you're too small." I have never tried to lose weight but since I got to college I have dropped at least 10lbs. But I still have a butt and thighs.

My thoughts are off subject so anyway, she was on my team. We danced after the game and I had so much fun. I "walked it out," which is a new hip hop dance and "leaned with it" and "shoulder leaned," all of which are new dances that I am not very good at but the young men and women there thought so. It felt so good to have fun and not worry about what I was wearing or making top 15 o 10 or winning for that matter. Most of the kids were black which was weird because the majority of kids in Oregon with Down Syndrome are white. But maybe that's just because, well it is Oregon, for Gods sake.

This morning before we went to the Best Buddies Event, Tara had a chat with us about Being Miss USA and everything that has gone on in the media. I can honestly say that she is a very genuine, personable and interesting woman. Before meeting her I was upset about the whole drug and alcohol thing but I realized its all a part of "the game." The game, as Miss Universe 1995 Chelsi Smith would call it, is what the Miss Universe organization is doing. Although many people think that Tara made the organization look bad, it shed light on pageantry and people actually are interested in pageants now.

My personal belief about the situation is that they planned and staged this months ago and maybe Tara does have a problem with addiction but it's not as bad as they make it out to be. They did a good job of "Wagging the Dog," something that most celebrities do, which I will explain tomorrow.

I asked her what her plans were after giving up the crown and she said that she wants to be a DJ on a radio rock Sirius station, be a psychologist and a lot of other things that I can not remember. It is really crazy that I am 3 years older than she is. She also gained 10lbs but she said that when you go to rehab they feed you food with steroids in it to make you gain weight. She celebrated her 96th day of being sober today and said that God is in control of her life now. She also mentioned she was engaged when she won but her fiance cheated on her and I guess she has a new man now. Well I am going to take a nap because we have to go to the movies in two hours - later

FYI Farouk (creator of CHI hair products) just announced he is giving all the ladies free flat irons and blow dryers HECK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Miss Oregon Sharitha McKenzie