Summit County’s Yvonne Bryant encourages individual empowerment at beauty pageant
Nine months and countless hours of training and preparation all culminated for Summit County resident Yvonne Bryant at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver two weeks ago.
Bryant represented Summit County in the 37th annual Mrs. Colorado Pageant, the state preliminary to the national Mrs. America Pageant. The pageant combines scores for answers during an interview session with physical fitness and beauty during an evening gown and bathing-suit section.
This was the first pageant experience for Bryant, who describes it as a mix of adrenaline rush, chaos and fun. Bryant didn’t win, but the experience itself was more than worth it, she said.
Finding her voice
Bryant said she was inspired by Summit County local Amy Nakos, who has been named Mrs. Frisco at pageants in the past and occasionally serves as a pageant coach.
The other thing that spurred Bryant to action was her belief in her message. Most participants in the pageant bring a message with them — an emphasis on education, for example, or raising awareness of autism — that comes out during the interview process.
Bryant’s message encourages women and men of all ages, to “find their voice.”
“My message, that has really been about helping not just women but other individuals find their voices,” Bryant said. “Sometimes people forget who they are or they lose themselves in their work or maybe they lose themselves with their family. You see this sometimes with parents, where they’re so focused on their children that they forget who they are, so it’s re-learning who you are so you can help your family or your organization grow and be stronger. That’s really what my message was, because once you have your voice, once you know who you are and what you stand for, that’s really what helps you reach for your summit.”
Bryant took “Reach Your Summit” as her slogan, mixing a reference to the county she was representing with the essence of her message. Bryant has refined her message during the past three years through her involvement with Toastmasters International, an educational nonprofit that helps individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Through this group, Bryant has participated as president and vice president of education and works with clubs from Summit County to Grand Junction, Delta and Aspen.
“It’s all about helping people,” Bryant said.
Deciding that she wanted to try her hand at the Mrs. Colorado Pageant, Bryant sent in her application and received approval. That’s when the hard work started. In addition to getting sponsors, Bryant took on a number of coaches to help with everything from interview questions and speech preparation to physical fitness and nutrition.
“It’s not something that an individual can do on your own. It really is the community,” she said. Her training started in August, nine months before the May pageant.
At the pageant
“It is an amazing experience, let me tell you,” Bryant said of the pageant.
Over the course of four days, contestants go through a whirl of orientation, interviews, gown and swimsuit changes and several rounds of elimination. The big final event is held onstage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
“It’s a very intense physical and emotional four days,” Bryant said. Even now, two weeks later, “I’m still coming off of the, ‘Oh, my goodness.’”
While the event had its challenges, it also had plenty of fun and positive moments. One of those was meeting and interacting with the other contestants.
“It’s really neat to meet everybody because we’re from all across the state … and you get to learn just why they came and some of the things they’ve gone through to get to the pageant,” she said.
After the pageant, Bryant received some good news: She was elected division governor by her fellow Toastmasters.
“So while I didn’t place in the pageant, I did move up in the Toastmaster’s organization, so everything worked out how it was supposed to.”
Looking back on the pageant and the months of training leading up to it, Bryant has a lot to remember and smile about. Although she didn’t make it into the top 15, she’s happy to have been involved and said the experience has changed her for the better. She’s not yet sure if she’ll be entering again next year; she wants to give herself some time to relax before her term as Mrs. Summit County comes to an end in July. She wouldn’t mind if other women in Summit County wanted to enter the pageant next year, perhaps a Mrs. Frisco or Mrs. Dillon.
“I really think this is something more women should try,” she said, “because I know it gets you out of your comfort zone, trying something this new, but if you go into it, if you compete for Mrs. Colorado, for the journey and the experience, I mean, you get so much in return.”
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