Queen Beauty USA

The Perfect Storm

Washington’s Stormy Keffeler weathers the storm of competition to capture the crown of  Queen Beauty USA

Although February in New York City is known for its blustery weather, the model delegates turned up the heat in the Big Apple as they ventured to the “City That Never Sleeps” in search of the illustrious Queen Beauty USA crown, title, and nearly $75,000 prize package. While the weather may have been a bit chilly on the outside, the Queen Beauty USA state representatives kept it hot inside the iconic New Yorker Hotel and on the Queen Beauty USA stage.

In case you did not realize, this was the inaugural Queen Beauty USA Pageant to be staged within the United States and was a welcome event to open the 2020 season. The schedule presented a unique atmosphere whereby the delegates’ normally omnipresent nerves of pageant week would not enter the equation, as both stage preliminary and final competitions were held on one glamorous day, hosted by Pageantry magazine CEO Carl Dunn. It was a full-on, full-day of Queen Beauty USA competition.

Dubbed the “Pageant For Models,” Queen Beauty USA opened the first day with the Preliminary Interview Competition, followed by the stage presentations of State Costume Spokesmodel, Preliminary Swimwear, and the Preliminary Evening Gown Competitions. With Prelims complete, it was only a short time before the Queen Beauty USA delegates returned to the stage for the National Finals presentation.

With Queen Beauty USA supporters, pageant aficionados, and visiting queens filling the venue, the time had come to welcome the models back to the stage in the Parade of Beauty and the announcement of the Top 15: Queen Beauty USA Arizona MacKenzie Simmons, QBUSA Georgia Rachel Stacy, QBUSA Illinois Josie Pearce, QBUSA Indiana Marleigh Ross, QBUSA Maryland Alex Maloney, QBUSA Michigan Corrin Stellakis, QBUSA Montana Amelia Beard, QBUSA New Hampshire Phoebe Collins, QBUSA New York Natalie Jenkins, QBUSA Ohio Charley Clayton, QBUSA Rhode Island Tyeshaa Hudson, QBUSA USA Virginia Joanne Alexandre, QBUSA West Virginia Lyndsee Plantz, QBUSA Washington Stormy Keffeler, and Queen Beauty USA Wyoming Natalie Miller.

As the spotlight shone center stage, the Top 15 Queen Beauty models competed in the exciting Swimwear and glamorous Evening Gown Competitions. Then, the Top 5 were brought back center stage: Queen Beauty USA Georgia, Queen Beauty USA Michigan, Queen Beauty USA Rhode Island, Queen Beauty USA Washington, and Queen Beauty USA Wyoming.

One final round of competition remained in the quest for Queen Beauty USA, the My Reason Competition. Each model confidently approached the microphone and stated to the judges, audience, and online viewers why she wanted to be Queen Beauty USA and what she hopes to achieve should she capture the Queen Beauty USA crown and title.

The votes had been cast, tallied, and presented for proclamation. 4th Runner Up Queen Beauty USA Georgia, 3rd Runner Up Queen Beauty USA Rhode Island, 2nd Runner Up Queen Beauty USA Michigan, 1st Runner Queen Beauty USA Wyoming. Finally, the announcement everyone was waiting for, Stormy Keffeler of Washington was crowned Queen Beauty USA. Congratulations to Queen Beauty USA Stormy Keffeler, her royal court, and all the Queen Beauty USA state representative models who contributed to a successful and glamorous inaugural event.

Pageantry Magazine: What does the title of Queen Beauty USA represent to you?
Stormy Keffeler: Oh my goodness, really everything! I grew up competing in glitz pageants and when I turned 20, I switched over into scholarship based organizations. I’m now 28 years old, so this is my last hoorah and opportunity to carry a national title. Queen Beauty USA is a very fresh system and it’s all about bringing beauty back to pageantry and taking politics out of the contest. Some other organizations try to capitalize and market the girls instead of the other way around, so I feel so honored to be a part of Queen Beauty USA.

PM: If I’m not mistaken, you’re actually the first Queen Beauty USA winner who was crowned following her competition.
SK: Yes, I am. This is the first year Queen Beauty USA has actually had a competition. Alexia Castillo was the queen from last year and she ended up going onto Queen Beauty Universe, but she was a delegated title. This is the first year the organization was an actual pageant with 44 girls competing from other organizations. It was a serious competition and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity and this platform to speak on.

PM: Do you feel added pressure?
SK: I don’t know if it’s necessarily a pressure. I don’t have a mold to fit into, so it’s up to me to create that mold. The nice thing about Queen Beauty USA is they really want to embrace what makes each girl unique. It’s up to me to set the standard of what does the Queen Beauty USA look like, act like, talk like, style herself like. It’s a pressure that’s both good and a little intimidating.

PM: Talk to me a little about competing in New York City for the Queen Beauty USA title.
SK: I love New York City and it’s always been a dream of mine to walk for New York Fashion Week. We got to walk for Val Kettl’s “That’s My Dress Boutique” as well as for the swimsuit line Belle Epoque Swimwear. For the preliminary gown and swimsuit competitions, we did not have any say in what they put on our bodies to walk down that runway. It was really an opportunity to showcase yourself as a model and not just as a beauty queen because you had to work with whatever they gave you.

PM: I know it was a whirlwind experience for you.
SK: You don’t even know. I didn’t get in until 3:00 AM the day of preliminaries and finals. I’d actually missed my interview because my flight was delayed, rerouted, and finally canceled because of snow through Denver. I was rerouted so many times, so it was very stressful. Eventually, my flight got in at 2:00 AM and I had to be up at 5:00 AM, starting my own hair and makeup to get ready for interview.

PM: What was the experience like performing in both the preliminary and the final stage competitions in one exciting day?
SK: Having it all in one day made it so you couldn’t get in your own head. Most girls did their interview the day before, but I had my interview first thing on Saturday morning and then went right into preliminaries and finals. I really enjoyed it because it gave me an opportunity to not psych myself out. I was having to be present and there in the moment. If I felt like something didn’t go as well as it could have, it’s like, well we’re already moving on to the next thing, so no time to reflect on it now.

PM: Did you have a favorite area of competition?
SK: Evening gown has always been my favorite. I enjoyed both preliminary and final evening gown because again, we didn’t get to pick our preliminary evening gown, so it was really fun to see somebody else’s vision of who I am.

When I arrived, there were only a couple of dresses left for me to choose from. Miss Val gave me this gorgeous, extravagant, feathered and sequined full dress. She told me it would be great for the finale since I was walking at the end. I was like, “Yes, that is the dress!”

Of course, also getting to rock my favorite big black see-through ball gown in the finals was great too. That dress felt so elegant and it’s like my power suit because that’s what we got to say our final statement in. So the longer I could wear it, the more powerful I felt.

PM: Let’s discuss one of the areas of competition called My Reason. You had to state your reason as to your qualifications to capture Queen Beauty USA 2020. What was that about?
SK: I am a survivor of domestic violence, so I spoke about my experience. At first, I was scared because I thought being a victim meant I was weak. It meant I was disqualified from being a role model. However, I now find that being a victim means the complete opposite. Owning up to being a victim and being able to find the courage to embrace those shortcomings are really what makes someone strong, confident and relatable. I want to use this title to empower women who have faced any sort of adversity or felt the way I have to take control back in their lives and prove it’s not what you’ve been through, it’s what you make of it.

PM: Can you explain your view on the #beautyisback and #pageantformodels platform?
SK: I am in love with the Beauty is Back Campaign. The Beauty is Back Campaign and #beautyisback brings forth the opportunity for you to see facial beauty is a main component in the score for Queen Beauty USA and that is huge.

PM: Since capturing the title of Queen Beauty USA in February, what are some of the opportunities you have been able to enjoy?
SK: I have been able to speak on all kinds of different media platforms, which is important being that my whole goal and reason for competing was to share my story of surviving domestic violence. Also, getting to collaborate with Tré LaVoúx Atelier was another great opportunity. We were able to come up with a dress design I absolutely rocked at the Global Beauty Awards where I was a presenter.

Coronavirus has had an impact on my reign though. It’s been such a trying time and I just want to remind everybody we’re all in this together.

PM: You’re from Washington and that was the original American epicenter of this COVID-19 pandemic. Being that many of us are under a stay at home order now, how are you passing the time?
SK: We are definitely following the stay at home order. Luckily, I just switched over to a new job working in the corporate office for a cosmetics company, so I am able to work from home. Honestly, this has actually been really nice. I’ve always been so busy, out and about, so it’s nice to have some downtime where I’m able to hang out with my fiancé, catch up on Netflix and take nice, long walks.

PM: Once we return to a semblance of normality, what is the first thing you want to do?
SK: Go to the gym! Leading up to the pageants, I spent every day in the gym for about two hours and was burning myself out on it. So after the pageant, I took a little bit of time off and when I tried getting back into the groove, I couldn’t find it. Now I’m authentically missing the gym and can’t wait to get back in there.

PM: I understand you have a very interesting sports background?
SK: You could say that. I grew up playing softball, basketball and volleyball in high school and I went to college on a softball scholarship. That was a huge part of training me for the determination and physical ability I needed to compete in pageants. Once I was finished with college softball, I went on to play three years of professional football. I was a center and strong side linebacker for the Seattle Mist. That’s what led me to create my own nonprofit called Play on Sports, which benefits young athletes from low income families with scholarships for any players’ fees, sporting equipment, athletic apparel, or anything needed to pursue their passion. I grew up in a very middle class family and my only hope of going to college was to do so on an athletic scholarship. Had I not had that opportunity and such an amazing supportive family, I would still be paying off student loans from going to college. So I want everybody to have an accessibility in pursuing their passions.

PM: Is there a proverbial bucket list you wish to accomplish as Queen Beauty USA?
SK: Absolutely. I think the biggest ones are coming down to community service more than anything. After sharing my story about domestic violence, I want to start an organization or get involved with organizations to create a network, a national network of organizations and resources for women to use, whether it’s financial aid or legal resources. I think it would be great to have a networking community of women who have all been there to support and help out those in need.

PM: Why is pageantry so important in today’s society?
SK: I love this question and I can only speak from my personal experience. Growing up and competing in pageants was always hit or miss for me. When I started coming into my final years of eligibility for the Miss organizations, I realized it’s not just about winning or losing. Whether or not you have the crown, are you going to be proud of who you are? For me, pageantry is a great way to groom yourself to be the best person you can be. Pageantry can be a reason for fitness motivation and a reason to take care of yourself through self-care. You learn how to present yourself and how to market yourself. I was even able to add pageantry to my resume. It’s really an opportunity to develop yourself into the best version of you possible.

PM: What have you learned through pageantry about yourself?
SK: I learned most about my resilience. I found out I’ve competed in about 15 pageants in the last decade. Out of those 15, I only made top five four times and I only walked away with two titles. So that’s a huge discrepancy between how many pageants I competed in and the actual success rate. It’s really easy to get discouraged after you lost three, four or five pageants and to walk away and say, I’m done with this. However, I wanted to keep growing. I used it as an opportunity to come back every year and learn something about myself, learn something about the presentation of others and learn ultimately, how to be like the other winners.
Resilience has been a quality I’ve been able to apply to the rest of my life, whether it was in sports, in football or in work, I was always pushing myself for something I might not be qualified for, but I’m going to do my best anyways.

PM: How can Queen Beauty USA fans follow you?
SK: You can follow me online either on Instagram @stormykeffeler or @officialqueenbeautyusa or on the Facebook page, Queen Beauty USA. We’ll be getting ready to post more information on the Queen Beauty Universe, which follows all of the Queen Beauties from all around the world.

To read the feature article in Pageantry Digital, please Click Here

To learn more about Queen Beauty USA, please Click Here