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  • Writer's pictureJuanita Ingram

The Pivotal Role of Interview Skills in Pageantry and Beyond

By Juanita Ingram, Mrs. Universe 2022


As I sat watching the 72nd Miss Universe competition, witnessing history unfold, I was particularly struck by Miss Nicaragua’s performance during the final Q&A. Her eloquent and poised response on the global pay wage gap was not just impressive; it was masterful. It served as a vivid reminder of the critical role intelligence and interview skills play in the realm of pageantry.



Her ability to articulate a complex issue so gracefully underlined the significance of these skills, not just in clinching a pageant title but in succeeding in various aspects of life. This profound moment inspired me to share my insights on the importance of intelligence and interview skills in both pageantry and life, drawing parallels from my own journey as Mrs. Universe 2022.


Now, let me delve deeper into why these aspects are fundamental to success, both on the pageant stage and beyond.


In the vibrant world of pageantry, where every detail counts, it’s the interview round that often emerges as the definitive game-changer. This realization has been a cornerstone of my experience in various pageants. While the allure of evening gowns and the dazzle of the stage are important, it’s the power of eloquence in the interview and on-stage Q&A segments that truly sets a contestant apart.



The Decisive Moment: Miss Nicaragua’s Triumph

A prime example of this was the recent crowning of Miss Nicaragua as Miss Universe 2023. Her remarkable performance in the final Q&A session was a testament to the importance of intelligence, poise, and the ability to deliver a powerful interview. This moment was pivotal, not just in clinching the title for her but also in exemplifying the essence of what it takes to be a true queen in the world of pageantry. As the first woman from Nicaragua to win the Miss Universe title, she has marked a historic moment, highlighting the impact of being a trailblazer in this realm.

Interview Skills: The Key to Success

The experience of Miss Nicaragua reinforces a vital truth: the ability to articulate thoughts under pressure, with clarity and confidence, can be the deciding factor in achieving success. These skills go beyond the pageant stage, extending into various aspects of life. As someone who has consistently excelled in the interview rounds and also as the first black woman to win Mrs. Universe, I recognize the profound role these skills play in defining our paths and achievements.



Beyond Pageantry: Dress for Success

My involvement with Dress for Success, as the founder of the Chattanooga and London affiliates and an active participant in other chapters, echoes this sentiment. The organization’s focus on equipping women with not just the right wardrobe but also essential interview skills parallels the journey in pageantry. It’s about presenting oneself at one’s best, feeling confident, and performing with excellence.



Solidarity Among Pioneers: Celebrating Firsts and Breaking Barriers

In the realm of pageantry, being a ‘first’ carries a weight that extends far beyond the crown and the stage. Miss Nicaragua’s historic victory as the first from her country to win Miss Universe is a profound testament to this. Her eloquent handling of the final Q&A, especially her insightful perspective on the global pay wage gap, showcased not just her intelligence but also the importance of being poised and articulate under pressure. This moment was a decisive factor in her victory, underscoring the critical role of interview skills in determining the outcome of such prestigious competitions.


Similarly, as the first black woman to win Mrs. Universe in 2022, I resonate deeply with the path Miss Nicaragua has charted. Our achievements symbolize more than personal victories; they represent the breaking of barriers and the setting of new benchmarks. We stand as examples of what can be accomplished when intelligence and eloquence meet opportunity and hard work.


Miss Universe 2023’s advocacy for mental wellness, combined with her powerful, timely, and accurate response on gender pay disparity, exemplifies how pageantry can be a platform for addressing pressing global issues. Such moments are not only pivotal for the title but also for inspiring societal change.


The Universal Application of Pageantry Principles

Throughout my journey with Dress for Success, working in various cities and empowering women, I have seen the universal relevance of the principles honed in pageantry. These principles — hard work, thorough preparation, and confident self-presentation — are key ingredients for success in any arena. My experiences in these diverse settings have reinforced my belief that the skills developed on the pageant stage are invaluable tools that can be adapted for success in all aspects of life.


This universality is evident in the way pageant contestants, like Miss Nicaragua and myself, approach challenges and seize opportunities. The ability to communicate effectively, present oneself confidently, and respond to high-pressure situations with grace and intelligence are skills that transcend the pageant industry.



Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Pageantry

Reflecting on the recent triumph of Miss Nicaragua at Miss Universe 2023 and my own journey in pageantry, it’s clear that the art of the interview is a critical life skill. These experiences shape not just how we perform on stage but also how we navigate various facets of life. The synergy between pageantry and organizations like Dress for Success highlights the transformative power of cultivating these skills.


Through pageantry, we learn the art of eloquent expression and the importance of being informed and aware. These are not just skills for winning a crown; they are essential for success in life. The platform that pageantry offers extends beyond personal achievements; it becomes a means to inspire, advocate, and lead change.


Our victories, as pioneers in our respective fields, are milestones that pave the way for future generations to dream, achieve, and create their own legacies of excellence and impact.

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