Titleholder Interview: Jillian Larson


Jillian Larson

  • Currently Miss Excelsior 2016
  • Former Miss Finger Lakes’ Outstanding Teen 2015, 3rd Runner Up

PageantFile Content: Bio | Miss Bluebird Pageant | Miss NYOT ’15

Fundraising: Miss America for Kids


Why did you begin competing in pageants? What do you hope to gain, other than a title? I actually started competing in pageants when my father was stationed in Savannah, Georgia for the army. Pageants were a lot more common and my friends and I enjoyed them as a way to spend time together and almost like a sport. Even today in pageants I hope to gain new friendships and just have a good time. I have already met some pretty amazing people in this organization that have all been so welcoming. As I’ve gotten older competing has also meant gaining a new audience to reach about my platform Be Smart Keep Art.

Why is your platform unique? Be Smart Keep Art speaks to me on a personal level because the arts in public education has affected me. Without it I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My grades might not have been as good, I wouldn’t have such a strong friend group, and I most certainly wouldn’t have the experience for the talent portion. I hope to inspire kids in the way that I was inspired and also remind public officials that we can’t cut spending on the arts. Every child deserves it.

With sister queen Gabrielle Walter, Miss Bluebird

Where were you when Nina/Kira won Miss America?  When Nina and Kira won I was home with my family watching. It was more like me making them watch so I could have the big TV, lol, but this year my mom and I attended. I have always wanted to see Miss America live and it was everything I could’ve imagined. I was in awe and felt so many emotions the entire time. Congrats to Betty!

What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign? I would love to sing at my local baseball stadium, The Hudson Valley Renegades. It would be a great experience that would also bring awareness to my platform because I could talk to people about everything that brought me to that moment.

Which is your favorite phase of competition? Definitely talent! I love to sing and I look forward to talent at every pageant even if I’m not performing. The Miss America pageant already supports Be Smart Keep Art because every girl up there is performing art. I am always amazed at the many ways art can take form and I hope that kids watching will be inspired to stick with their instrument, practice their song, learn a monologue, or even practice speed painting one of Van Gough’s pieces. The options are endless but always entertaining.

How do you prepare for pageant? I think my lifestyle prepares me a lot for the individual phases of competition. I sing all year long so I usually pick a piece I know very well from an audition. I also play tennis which gets me ready for lifestyle and fitness, and I also work at Tommy Hilfiger as a sales associate so I’m talking to lots of people. I always always always make a pageant binder. I’m not really a neat person but when it comes to pageants this is my lifesaver. I always have a wardrobe checklist so I don’t forget anything, practice interview questions, and pageant information. I always make sure I am prepared so I’m giving myself the best chance I can.

with Alisa Vasquez, Miss NY’s Outstanding Teen

What advice do you have for a girl who thinks she can’t compete in pageants? You can! There’s no reason why you can’t! I’m sure everyone has an old prom dress around, a bikini, some form of a talent, a topic of public concern that speaks to them and most of all an inner beauty and knowledge about yourself as a person. Being confident and just doing it is the first step.

What do you plan to do with your experiences after you age out of MAO? Well this being my first year eligible for MAO, right now I’m focusing on getting into college. My top school is Cornell and I hope to major in bioengineering wherever I end up. After college I hope to gain lots of work experience and maybe even go back to graduate school for business.

Why should you be Miss America? Miss America is everything I could ever want to do. I would be extending my platform to a national level and hopefully influencing decisions about supporting the arts. Aside from that, Miss America is a symbol of women empowerment. I think I represent everything the organization stands for as a woman hopefully being involved in a mostly male field. Also I have experience with the military coming from the daughter of a Purple Heart recipient. I understand the pride and respect for our country that I believe many people forget. I would hope to also bring support for the troops in my reign. The audience tends to only focus on the one day of crowning, but I hope to make the other 364 days even more meaningful. I hope that as Miss America I would be a role model not only for women, but for everyone.

I know I’m only 17, but I believe that I am fit to represent New York and even America. Teresa Scanlan has been a role model for me because a lot of contestants take a year off after outstanding teen, but she has shown me there is no reason to. Competing at my first local, Miss Bluebird, under the Miss division was so humbling and positive. The experience of even just competing is worth every minute and I know I would regret a year off. The age limits haven’t changed and many girls have done it before me, so I’m here to do it again.


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