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How to Become a Pageant Director

07, April 2018

Leanne Pinard Baum is co-owner of the Miss Long Island Pageant. She and Jacqueline Riker are the Executive Directors. Photo: Leanne Pinard Baum Leanne Pinard Baum is co-owner of the Miss Long Island Pageant. She and Jacqueline Riker are the Executive Directors. Photo: Leanne Pinard Baum

Pageant directors are some of the most passionate pageant enthusiasts in the industry. They are not only knowledgeable of their system and pageantry as a whole, but they are also organized, outgoing people who can get a job done. Directors don't just work pageant weekend. Their hard work is put in year-round to ensure the reputation of the system is in good hands and their titleholders' reigns go smoothly. Do you think you have what it takes to be a pageant director? Here is how you can get started!

Local pageants

Local pageants are the best place for budding pageant directors to begin. There is far less pressure, a smaller budget and it's easier to land one of these jobs. Successful local pageant directors sometimes can even move up to state directors.

The best place to start is by becoming involved in the pageant community around you. Small towns often have very tight-knit pageant communities. If you live in a small town, use this to your advantage by getting to know everyone. In cities, the community is more spread out, but you can still easily get in contact with individuals within organizations you are interested in. (Read: 5 Reasons to Compete in a Festival or Fair Pageant)

Volunteer at local pageants in your area. This is the best first step to proving you care about pageantry and the community. It will also help you meet local directors and other volunteers who could assist you in your goal of becoming a pageant director.

Once you've built a relationship with individuals within your pageant community, reach out to organizations to see if they are in need of a director. Befriend local pageant professionals on Facebook because they often post or share statuses when they are in search of a new director.

If you've proven to be a dedicated pageant enthusiast, people may start reaching out to you. In 2012, Jacqueline Riker was asked to be an Executive Director for the Miss Long Island Pageant by the pageant's founder Lori Thomas. Thomas chose Riker because of her pageantry expertise and dedication.

Local pageantry is truly about who you know and how much effort you are willing to put in. Get to know people, prove yourself and let them know your goals.

Jacqueline Riker, Executive Director of the Miss Long Island Pageant. Photo: Jacqueline Riker Jacqueline Riker, Executive Director of the Miss Long Island Pageant. Photo: Jacqueline Riker

State pageants Many pageant systems, especially newer systems, don't have a director for each state. Often, girls compete with appointed titles for the national title because there is no state director to conduct a pageant in whatever state they live in. The internet is your greatest tool in becoming a state pageant director. For example, American Pageants has a form on its website for interested applicants to fill out to receive information regarding available franchises and directing roles. Sometimes your road to becoming a state director could be as simple as sending an email. To speak to someone about director opportunities with Miss Black USA, interested applicants can simply email pr@missblackusa.com. "The best advice I could offer is to just reach out to the organization and ask them what their steps are to take on that leadership role," said Miss Black Rhode Island USA Executive Director Patrice Jean-Philippe. Social media is, of course, a great resource for finding out open positions. Teri Brown-Walker, the Executive Director of Miss and Mrs. Maryland, District of Columbia and Delaware United States pageants, first became aware of the position after seeing a post on Facebook. She then secured the job by creating a resume that showcased her leadership skills. "I created a resume specifically highlighting my strength as a leader in Human Resources Recruitment for 20 years leading, training some of the best recruiters in the country and how those skills are transferable to pageantry," Brown-Walker said. Brown-Walker's leadership skills have certainly come in handy. She directs eight age divisions for each of her three states and will be taking 24 or more queens to nationals from June 29 to July 7, 2018. If the Miss United States Pageant doesn't currently have anything posted, interested applicants can contact the National Director Stephi Barton Williams at director@missunitedstatespageant.com. However, before contacting, know that there are financial responsibilities that the state director must pay. "I have an annual franchise fee that I pay," Brown-Walker said.

Miss Black Rhode Island USA director Patrice Jean-Philippe. Photo: Joephotojoy Miss Black Rhode Island USA director Patrice Jean-Philippe. Photo: Joephotojoy

National and international pageants National directors are often successful state directors. National or international directors are rarely newbies to the pageant directing world. They should have a wide variety of pageant experience before taking on such an expansive and important role. Stephi Barton Williams, the Miss United States Pageant National Director, is the former Executive Director of the Miss Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Kentucky United States state pageants. Her hard work, connections and passion for pageantry led her to become the director for one of the most successful pageant organizations in the United States. Her ability to take on directing four state pageants for Miss United States, a system with many age divisions, proved that she was up to the task of being a capable and competent Miss United States National Director. If you hope to be a national or international pageant director, know that this will not likely happen overnight. Get started at a smaller level and work your way up once you are ready to hold such a big responsibility.

Miss United States National Director Stephi Barton Williams. Photo: Stephi Barton Williams Miss United States National Director Stephi Barton Williams. Photo: Stephi Barton Williams

Starting your own pageant You can, of course, skip right on to national director if you start your own pageant. It can be extremely time-consuming and a financial burden, but it is also very rewarding and can be the best option for some who are dreaming of becoming pageant directors. (Read: How to Start Your Own Pageant) As both the owner and executive director, marketing will be crucial to your success. Marketing skills are necessary to get your pageant off the ground. "I focused on my brand as a director, having a better understanding as a spectator and pageant mom on what pageant girls need from someone in a leadership role," Brown-Walker said. "I just applied my HR Recruiting background and offered the women in my very first pageant to compete for free. I took that opportunity to provide them with an experience of a lifetime at no cost to them. Within one year of directing, I was named Top 3 Best Pageant Director and made Top 6 best pageant." Though Brown-Walker is a state director, her tactics for growing her pageant would be an excellent strategy for anyone who is creating and directing a pageant. Social media is also an excellent tool to market your new pageant. Post often and engage with those in your local pageant community. If you have friends in the pageant world, ask them to endorse your endeavor on their social media accounts. Word-of-mouth is powerful in most industries, but it is especially powerful in pageantry. (Read: How to Market Your Pageant) Once you have your first titleholders, you have to market them well. Be sure to read about how to best market your titleholders! (Read: How to Market Your Titleholders) You can also market your pageant by adding it to our Pageant Directory. This way, girls will be able to search pageants in their areas and see your pageant as an option. Many of our readers use the Pageant Directory to find future pageants to compete in!

American Pageants was founded by Warren Alexander, a former pageant director, in 1983. Photo: Tessie Jones Photography American Pageants was founded by Warren Alexander, a former pageant director, in 1983. Photo: Tessie Jones Photography

Moving forward "Someone can know being a state director is right for them by their continued willingness to invest, sacrifice, commit and dedicate their time to an often thankless job and want to return to do it all over again the following year," Brown-Walker said. If you do find this willingness within yourself, keep your eye out for directing opportunities or take initiative to contact someone within the organization regarding information. Expressing interest in them will spark a conversation that could eventually lead to a director position. If there aren't any positions, you can always start your own pageant. This will take a lot of time and money, but with effort and skilled branding and marketing, you can be successful. No matter what route you take, directing is a fulfilling job in pageantry. Once you get your foot in the door, the job will, of course, be easier, but it will still be a task that you must be up for. "It's not easy," Jean-Philippe said. "However, if you stay committed, it is rewarding." Check out our Pageant Directory to find systems you might be a fit for or add your pageant to the list!

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