The First Annual Miss West Coast Regional Pageant took place on March 30th, 2014, Sunday afternoon at The Lorenzo, located near USC Campus in Los Angeles, CA. Miss West Coast Pageant contestants aging from 14 to 25, all vying for the titles of Miss West Coast and Miss West Coast Teen Regional. The winners receive $1800.00 and $40.000 in prizes and scholarships ranging from rhinestone crowns and custom jewelry, teeth whitening, acting classes, runway and modeling training and so much more.
Miss West Coast Productions Inc. was founded by Tara Rice, a beauty queen in her own right. Tara created this event as she states “to empower teen and young women to become leaders in their community and state.” Tara has been winning titles since 2000, during her senior year she decided to enter in a pageant on a whim, and ended up winning the title of Miss Teen California All American. That gave Tara a boost of confidence where she went on to win many titles including Miss Beverly Hills 2003 and Miss Hawaiian Tropic Western Regional. Tara began acting and joined Screen Actors Guild where she quickly landed her first role in a major film, The Fast and the Furious. With all of Tara Rice accomplishments and knowledge in the business, she started the Miss West Coast Pageant.
The Miss West Coast Pageant was held outside in a beautiful upscale student apartment housing complex called The Lorenzo. The gorgeous complex features elaborate cascading staircases and waterfalls, and the stage and chairs for the audience were set on the grass in the center of the lawn. As I entered the event the red carpet was filled with young actors, performers, past and current crown holders who came to support the show as well as the judges who posed for photos and gave interviews along the way. The 12 judges for the event varied from renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Rady Rahban, television and radio producer Jimmy Sedghi, actor Irene Tsu who was in Elvis Presley’s movie “Paradise Hawaiian Style” and actor Natasha Henstridge who’s famous for her role in the Film Species.
Before the show started we were graced with performances by three acts. First there was a performance by the group from the reality show X Factor's Stereo Hogzz. Then another singer by the name of Antoinette Kristensen from Norway performed her dance hit. The last performer was equally fantastic, country singer/actress Dakota Hood took the stage and performed a beautiful country tune which wowed the audience.
One of the producers of the show and coordinator Kimberly Cozzens kicked off the pageant and introduced the Host for the evening, Steve Nave. Steve Nave grew up playing sports but started his career in acting at age 17. He landed many acting roles and at the age of 24 he produced the Miss California World Beauty Pageant. He has acted, cast, produced and Host over 300 shows for radio, television, film and live events. He currently works as a casting director and runs the Actors Showcase. Steve Nave’s hosting abilities are impressive and admired. The Host went on for over 3 hours and had to fill in a lot of space while the judge’s tallies were being counted to determine the winners.
The Show opens up with the contestants from the Miss West Coast Teen division, and then moves smoothly into the Miss West Coast contestants. As each beauty contestant approached the microphone, they stated their names and what city in California they were from. As they spoke, each contestant had a different spin on their introduction to the audience. Some shared a more subtle approach as others displayed large personality’s right from the start. For most of the young ladies it was their first time entering a pageant, however did impressively well.
The first segment featured the contestants in bikinis, as they gracefully showcased their physical beauty, they smiled graciously at the judges showing confidence and poise with every turn. The Host Steve Nave struggled through some of the contestant names and repeatedly butchered them throughout the evening. He made up for it by keeping the audience entertained throughout the day, with his off the wall humor and quick witted outburst.
The next portion of the pageant featured the contestants in evening gowns. This is my favorite part of a pageant. I enjoy looking at the spectacular handcrafted, crystal beaded gowns that flow so gracefully, almost on their own. The vibrant colors and styles were breathtaking and really showcase the contestant’s personality and maturity. The host proceeded to give commentary on each contestant as she walks the stage. As Steve Nave read through each contestant’s biography, the audience learned that some of the girls love horseback riding and martial arts while others were in medical school training to become doctors.
Miss West Coast hopefuls were lead back on stage by the current Miss North Hollywood Brittany Wagner and Miss North Hollywood Teen, Mckenzie Seagren, to give out the first round of awards. This portion isn’t any different from other pageants, giving out awards for Miss Congeniality and Best Swimwear to Best Evening Gown and so on. The panel of judges was sharp, really focused and chose the winners well.
After the judges tally, five finalists from each division were chosen and left on stage to answer questions. This is also a very important part of the competition. It displays the first time we really get to hear from the contestants, their views on current events and social issues affecting the world today. The questions asked were relevant to current affairs and contestant answered intelligently. A couple of contestants stumbled, however quickly recovering with a little help from the Host Steve Nave.
As the sunset and the crowd thinned out, the moment everyone was waiting for was finally here. Tara Rice, Co-Host Brittany Wagner and Mckenzie Seagren were on hand to help Steve Nave present to the winners. After the judges tally, Miss West Coast Teen Regional was awarded to the stunning Victoria Johnson and Miss West Coast Regional went to the beautiful Vanessa Golub. The second runner ups were captivating as well, those crowns went to Masha Shadchina and Alison Kim who received the titles Miss South Bay and Miss South Bay Teen. All four winners will go on to compete in the Miss California USA and Miss California USA Teen Pageant this year.
Exuberance filled the air while parents and friends cheered on the winners. Photographers flooded the front stage as the four winners took turns posing with Founder Tara Rice. Founder of the pageant Tara Rice, Kimberly Cozzens and Amanda Lee Wasvary- Ransdell the Owner of Sugarkiss evening gowns, thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the contestants. They also thanked the many sponsors and talked about the charity whom they raised money for, The Susan G. Komen Foundation.
It is always a pleasure to witness an organization whose goals are to showcase the beauty of women from the inside and out and to uplift women and empower young people to get involved with their community. After leaving this event, I realized that I had gained something as well, more courage. Courage to go out and support the community that I live in and never become too busy to help and encourage a young person to reach their goals in life.
All Photos provided by Photographer Dr. Zain Kadir