Kallie Hutchinson and Payton May talk about what they hope to accomplish, both for Miss America, and for their lives after pageants are done
CLARK COUNTY — Clark County could have its second Miss Washington winner in the past three years. Alicia Cooper brought home the prize in 2016, and later was third runner-up in the Miss America pageant. It had been 26 years since Clark County had a statewide winner.
At the contest next month, 18-year old Kallie Hutchinson is hoping to bring the statewide crown back to Clark County.
“Oh that would be so amazing,” Hutchinson says with a big smile, “just to be able to represent Clark County and show them that I can do it, just like any other girl could do it. But, more importantly, it would give me a louder voice to be able to talk about my platform of building positive self image. Because that’s really what is most important to me.”
Hutchinson’s platform includes what she calls #ThisIsMe, with the goal of helping other young women overcome issues with low self esteem, a problem she struggled with at a younger age.
“I really appreciate that the Miss America organization is so focused on getting women — really encouraging young people to get out into their community, and find something that they’re passionate about,” she says.
Hutchinson also works with Abby’s Closet, an Oregon nonprofit that helps to provide free prom dresses to local high school girls, as well as working with Girls, Inc. and mentoring young women at her church.
The Clark County resident and graduate of Portland’s Jefferson High School will head off to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Fall to study musical theater. Her talent is dancing, and she hopes to find a future on broadway. Her talent portion in this Summer’s statewide pageant will be a contemporary jazz dance performance.
May to compete Memorial Day Weekend
Hutchinson spoke with ClarkCountyToday.com during a Good Luck party for Payton May, the winner of Miss Clark County’s Outstanding Teen award. She’ll be in Burien this weekend, hoping to be Clark County’s first winner of the statewide pageant since its second year in 2005 (Greater Vancouver did have a winner in 2007).
“In the Miss America organization you have to have a platform, so mine is Arts and Education,” says May. “I can ask teachers if I can go into their classroom and talk to their kids about that, or host events where I encourage kids to get involved in the arts in some way.”
The Skyview high school sophomore will sing the same song at the state competition that she did for the Clark County pageant, “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from The Phantom of the Opera.
While the 16-year old is new to the world of pageants, she says it hasn’t been like she expected things to be.
“I think it’s really portrayed as something that’s uber competitive and girls against other girls,” May says, “but really everyone is so supportive. Because it doesn’t really matter if you’re mean to the other contestant, the judges don’t care. They’re going to pick the girl who’s going to represent Clark County or Washington the best. So I’ve met some really amazing girls, a few of them are here right now, and it’s just been really great getting to know everyone, and getting to know their passions and why they’re involved in pageantry as well.”
Hutchinson got into the pageant scene just a couple of years ago, and says she also had it in her mind that things would be a lot different. To parents and other girls, she says it’s something you just need to look into, “and see if it’s something that can fit who you are as a person.
“But more importantly, it’s not all about the beauty and the dressing up and the makeup,” she continues. “That’s a part of it, and it’s super fun, but also it’s about learning how to talk to people, and share your voice, and interview, and scholarships.”
Hutchinson’s win as Miss Clark County earned her $2,000 towards school, and May has taken home $1,000 in scholarship money so far. The Miss America organization, in fact, is the largest provider of scholarship money for young women in the country.
Miss Clark County Executive Director Sheri Backous was never part of the pageant scene herself, but is quite familiar with it. Her youngest daughter, Kelly, won Miss Clark County in 2005 and again in 2007.
“Besides being pageant director, I am an administrator in the school district,” Backous says, “and so scholarships are one of the most important aspects of this entire program. So it’s a way for young ladies who want to find a way to help get themselves through school to get scholarships, use some talent, and learn the interview skills to be able to make great choices in the future.
“And I’ve seen that when our daughter went to interview for a job. She got it,” Backous continues. “Much easier to interview for a job than for a pageant.”
Of her two winners this year, Backous is effusive in her praise.
“Payton… I’m not a judge, but I think she’s going to do quite well at the state pageant. She has an amazing voice, she’s very well spoken, and just a put together young lady,” says Backous. “Kallie, same thing. She has an amazing drive. She’s a high school senior, graduating as valedictorian, she has amazing interview skills too, and just a wonderful talent.”
The Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen pageant is this weekend. The Miss Washington pageant will be June 29-30 in Burien, Washington.