The beauty behind the madness

Junior Romy Taylor shines in the 2023 Miss America Teen Volunteer Pageant


Kelsea Wilson

Eyes to the sky, junior Romy Taylor stands center stage in the evening gown section of the 2023 Miss Missouri Teen Volunteer Pageant. Taylor received compliments from judges and the audience for her walk, a skill she believes this section allows contestants to flaunt. “[Walking on stage in a gown] shows how much grace someone can carry. I absolutely love it when I get to show it off on stage,” Taylor said.

Under the spotlight, junior Romy Taylor highlights her character, dancing, fitness and fashion in the 2023 Miss Missouri Teen Volunteer (MMTV) Pageant. Pageants have been a passion of Taylor’s for nine years, jump-starting her career with the National American Miss (NAM) Pageant. With a first runner-up title to Miss Spirit of St. Louis in August 2022, Taylor advanced to MMTV.

Introducing herself to the audience, junior Romy Taylor poses behind the microphone with her headshot projected behind her. Ten minutes prior, she was rushing to get ready for the first stage appearance of the night. “The whole time during the competition, everyone had the most amazing energy you could imagine. Everyone was super excited to be there and have the most fun they can. Right before and during the show, everyone had a super adrenaline rush. During the show, everyone was running to make sure they are zipped into dresses, getting their shoes on, making sure their hair and makeup look good, putting on jewelry,” Taylor said. (Kelsea Wilson)

“[Placing second] in the Miss Spirit of St. Louis has been my biggest accomplishment. It was the first local pageant of the season, which made all the directors immediately come to me for their pageant. It felt amazing since it was the first local I had competed in since January 2020,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s interest in pageant culture began with admiration for her sister’s success competing in the Miss Amazing Pageant and winning the state title for Missouri in 2014.

“Seeing her win a pageant made me want to do it, so my Mom found NAM and has since been my biggest supporter. She helps me get whatever I need and supports me in whatever I want to do,” Taylor said. 

For MMTV, Taylor volunteered for the Disabled Athletes Sports Association, where she helped disabled athletes continue the sports of their choice. Taylor’s sister volunteered for competitive wheelchair basketball with the same organization for four years, prompting her assistance. 

“It taught me that even if people tell you that you can’t do something, there is always a way to do what you love. Watching these kids do something that I didn’t think was possible was very inspiring. Having a physical injury or disability does not limit what you can do,” Taylor said.

Along with volunteering, Taylor begins preparation for pageants up to two weeks before. For MMTV, the interview was seven and a half minutes long with a 90-second closing to say anything to the judges. Taylor believes the best way to prepare for this is by doing practice interviews. 

“No matter how much I practice, I still get nervous, but I have [affirmations] I say to myself before going on stage, as well as rituals. One of my rituals during the pageant is before I go on stage, I have to make sure I have good breath or clean teeth. If I don’t, it will bother me during the whole competition,” Taylor said. 

In her element, junior Romy Taylor strikes a pose in the dance sector of the pageant. With each section requiring immense preparation, Taylor made five outfit changes throughout the night. “The most fun part of preparing is getting all my outfits together. [I enjoy] making sure that I have cute outfits, and getting everything together makes me feel complete,” Taylor said. (Kelsea Wilson)

Coping with nerves and putting herself through the pageant process, Taylor believes the competitions have built relationships and skills for her. 

“I have grown a lot of public speaking skills from doing interviews and on-stage questions. Public speaking is something everyone dreads to do, but every time I do it, it gets a little bit easier,” Taylor said. “It’s all worth it in the end, even if I don’t win [because] the best part of the competitions is making new friends along the way. I always come out having new friends, making the experience worth it.”

Amongst skills and friendships, Taylor gained confidence and passion from contests that she now incorporates into her personal life. 

Performing her exercise routine for the fitness section, junior Romy Taylor raises her arm in a victorious side plank. She choreographed the routines and practiced for weeks leading up to the final day. “I always get nervous going into the day of or even the day before, but I say to myself, ‘everything will work the way it should’ or ‘everything works out for me.’ It always seems to take away those nerves when I have them,” Taylor said. (Kelsea Wilson)

“Every time I do a pageant, people tell me I have grown so much since I first started. I can tell that I have grown as well. [It has boosted my confidence] and prepared me for professional interviews. Everyone will do one in their lifetime, but it has prepared me for how to answer the questions,” Taylor said. “I have also found my passion for safety from the platform Know Before You Go. It is all about knowing safety protocols for emergency situations.”

Taylor plans to continue along her personal development and public inspiration journey. In June, she will participate in Miss Missouri to compete for the title of Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen. Taylor encourages other girls to get involved with pageants as well.

“When other girls are just starting pageants, I tell them it is more for the experience and to learn. It is rare that people win their first pageant. It takes time and hard work,” Taylor said. “Once you do win a pageant, all the blood, sweat and tears are so worth it. To the young girls that want to be in my position: it takes hard work and dedication. If you keep working hard for it, it will all work out.”