Haley Simmons, 15, of Milford, just recently participated in her first beauty pageant, which just happened to be the Miss Teen Michigan pageant. Simmons recently advanced to the semi-finals of the pageant held in Port Huron on Sept. 28 and 29. It was quite a first step for the Huron Valley Milford High School sophomore who has spent her entire life in Milford. She is also a former cheerleader for the Mavericks’ cheer team and stays grounded with the support of her mother, father and two brothers. Simmons hopes that her first pageant experience will be the stepping stone to greater things. She recently spoke with the Spinal Column Newsweekly about preparing for the pageant, who she looks up to, and her thoughts on “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
Congratulations on making it to the semi-finals of the Miss Michigan Teen USA pageant last month. Now that some time has passed, how do you look back on your experience in the pageant?
HS: It was a great experience, the best weekend of my life. It was such a wonderful time and I met such wonderful people.
I’ve looked up to the winners from last year so much and I got to meet them. It was such a good experience and they taught us so much and we got to talk to them for a long time. It was really great.
I was really happy to meet Kristen Daniel. She was in Miss Michigan Teen and she won. Then she was in Miss Michigan and she won. Then she competed in the Miss Teen USA and USA pageant and she was such a good role model and I got to meet her and talk to her and she was just so friendly. She was really nice to talk to and she gave such good advice to.
What were the portions of the pageant that you participated in and how did you feel while you were out on the stage in front of the audience?
HS: We participated in the swimsuit and evening gown (portions) and when we did it, we rehearsed a couple times the day of (the pageant), so we had some experience and they had a coach.
So when we went on stage, we were rehearsed and ready. It gives you so much confidence and we were ready. It was really fun.
You had to go to a certain part of the stage. You had to go to the left side and then the right side and the middle, different ones for different routines. And you practice the whole day before the night show — there were two nights of different shows.
The first night was for everybody, the second night was just for the semi-finalists and finalists. You rehearsed for that the first day and the second day, and I competed the second night with a couple people and it was really fun.
I thought I was going to be nervous, but then when I got on stage it was really fun with the music playing. I really wasn’t nervous when I got on stage. It was really, really fun. It was a fun thing to do.
How did you start taking an interest in pageants and what made you want to try out for Miss Michigan Teen USA?
HS: I watched the Miss Universe and the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA on TV with my cousin and my mom for a long time since I was younger.
So I’ve always wanted to do that and then I got old enough and I tried out and I got in, so it was really fun. This was my very first pageant.
Do you feel that with so many different reality shows about children’s pageants, especially now with “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” that pageants have lost some of their prestige from years past?
HS: Yeah, the children’s pageants like (they’re depicted in) “Honey Boo Boo” and “Toddlers and Tiaras” are definitely more reality (TV) and not as prestigious as we try to have Miss Michigan and Miss Teen USA. Those are more for sport, I guess, and we try to make our pageants more for role models and more of a lifestyle than a sport, I guess.
How do you go about preparing to compete in a pageant and how much of your time does it consume? What do you like to do when you have some spare time?
HS: We get a packet a couple months before the pageant of all the stuff that we need so we can go get all the stuff that we need for the pageant and we can buy our stuff, practice, and work out.
Walking in heels is very important. You have to learn how to walk in heels really comfortably and just learn how to have fun on stage. It’s very important.
(Answering a question) is also really important. I practice a little with my mom with notecards of previous winners with questions that they answered and just making natural answers, like answering from the heart (with) what you think a good answer. But only the finalists answer on stage and I was a semi-finalist, so I didn’t have the opportunity to answer on stage.
When I have spare time, I like to hang out with my friends and have fun.
How important is the support of your family and friends, especially when it comes to helping you stay grounded while in the spotlight?
HS: It’s really important to me. Their support is really important and they’re always there for me. They were there for me throughout the whole pageant, every step of the way, and my mom and dad are always there for me at the pageant.
And I have friends that were there for me the whole time. They’re always there. They’re great.
Are any of your peers at school aware that you are Miss Milford and if so, do they treat you any differently than they did before?
HS: A couple of friends know about it, not all of them, but some of them. (They don’t treat me) any differently, but a couple of my friends want to try out for (Miss Teen Michigan) next year though. It’s so funny.
I’d just tell them to have fun and have a good experience. It’s just a great experience to have.
What do you hope to do after graduation from Milford High School? What are your future plans as far as pageants are concerned?
HS: I plan to try Miss Teen Michigan again next year and then I want to go to college, of course, after high school and see what happens from there.
When I’m old enough, I want to try Miss Michigan.