Blake is home to a beauty queen! Sunday, Nov. 10, first-time pageant contestant junior Heavyn McDaniels bested 68 other girls to clinch the title of Miss Maryland Teen USA 2020.
Throughout the weekend, McDaniels presented herself in a ball gown and activewear and answered interview questions before a panel of seven judges. The number of contestants ebbed each day and eventually McDaniels found herself in the final five.
With the encouragement and support of her mother, who was McDaniels’ inspiration for competing in the Miss Teen circuit, Heavyn successfully navigated the nerve-wracking, chaotic hustle and bustle of a world that just weeks before the competition was completely alien to her.
“My mom has always wanted me to do [pageants] but I’ve never really been into them,” she says. “Finally I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to give it a try,’ and I ended up really liking it and winning and I think it’s kind of a thing now.”
After completing a preliminary phone interview and paperwork, McDaniels was chosen to represent Colesville in the pageant. She says that one of the highlights of the pageant atmosphere was the friendships she forged with the girls representing other areas of Maryland.
McDaniels adds, “My favorite part was meeting all the girls that were there. It’s a really quick [and lasting] bond that you make with people because everybody’s there struggling with the same thing …. and everyone was supportive.”
The level of support and amity did not dwindle when McDaniels was announced as the pageant’s winner. Ball gowns all around her were ruffling as her fellow contestants were cheering—one of whom McDaniels was certain would win.
“[Both my parents and I were] in complete shock,” McDaniels expresses. “There were so many girls I was going up against that were just so great and I was so sure that they were going to win.”
The victorious McDaniels was crowned by Miss Maryland and Miss Maryland Teen USA 2019. Soon after her crowning Sunday evening, McDaniels was swarmed by a host of reporters and was ushered to a table at which she collected her prizes: jewelry from sponsors, hair supplies, makeup, special access to dress stores, a scholarship and a coach to help her prepare for the televised Miss Teen USA national pageant in the spring.
McDaniels expresses her gratitude for the pageant coach and newfound support network in particular.
“I didn’t really know how to prepare properly but now I have a bunch of people helping me so I feel like I’ll be more ready for it,” she says.
McDaniels says that from now until the next pageant, she is focusing on her preparation and attending copious charity events as part of her Miss Maryland Teen USA 2020 duties. Despite not wanting to enter the pageant world initially, McDaniels notes that she is glad she did because she loves what the competitions stand for.
“The whole slogan of the pageant is ‘Confidently Beautiful’ so I think the message they’re really trying to spread is in order to be beautiful, you have to be truly confident in yourself,” she says. “You don’t have to look a certain way to win a pageant. As long as you look the best that you think that you can and you’re confident in that, then that’s all that matters.”