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Miss America Pageant Talent Rules: What You Need to Know

31, December 2013

Updated: July 9, 2018. To see all other Miss America rule updates visit, Miss America 2019 Changes.

In the Miss America Organization, talent is a large portion to competing in the pageant. The talent competition counts as 50% of your overall score, and talent is also a time to let yourself shine in a way that no gown, or trivial question could ever compare. Prior to 2018 talent counted for 35% of your overal score but when MAO did away with swimsuit on the national level they added the 15% that used to go towards swimsuit to the 35% talent, making talent by far the most important phase of competition.

So more than any other phase of competition, practice your talent. If you bomb your onstage interview, 5% of your score, but nail your talent you will go very far on the National level. 

Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin performing her pageant talent. Photo: Miss America Organization

There are always rules in life, and in the MAO you have a couple rules to follow when picking/choosing what to do for talent.

1. Time Limit

Talent must be no longer than 90 seconds. The time limit should be strictly enforced. If a contestant runs over her allotted time of 90 seconds, the judges should be informed immediately and instructed to adjust their scores. The time limit is only to make things fair for everyone, and keep the pageant under a certain amount of time.

2. Props

No props should be permitted unless they are absolutely functional. I once competed at a pageant where a contestant wanted to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and carry a live dog on stage. Although that does sound absolutely adorable, since your "prop" isn't truly necessary, I would just focus more on your voice.

3. Safety

No props involving safety hazards, such as fire batons, sword and/or knife twirling, bow and arrow skills. In the MAO paperwork, there is a clause stating that you may NOT shoot a bow and arrow, or anything of the nature as your talent due to a safety and projectile clause. Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail was going to perform archery as her talent at Miss America 2014, but found that it was against regulations and had to change it last minute.

4. Royalties

In some cases MAO will also reject your music selection if the royalites to the song are too steep. There have been singers in the past who have sung their way to the Miss America stage with the same song only to be told they have to change it due to the cost to air that song when the pageant is live on TV.

These rules are very important to follow when competing because this could determine if you win the title or not. I always tell girls when I am coaching them to focus on big picture, but these little details are what matter most. Be sure to always stay within the time limit, only use props when absolutely necessary, and keep things safe. Your talent is supposed to help you shine on stage in a way so unimaginable, that the only way you can describe it is by performing your talent with your whole heart. Talent is a time to be the queen you want to be and prove that not only you have the beauty and the wits, but also the grace and the pure talent of being the next Miss America.

If you're needing more advice on what type of talent to choose, look at some of our other articles to spark your interest; or become a member of Pageant Planet today, so you can get the one on one training you're looking for to become the best pageant queen you can be.

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Skyler McKinney

Jr. Miss National American Teen 2020-2021

"Skyler has traveled to 47 of the 50 States and to 7 different Countries, by the age of 11 years old

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