Miss Ohio vs Miss Michigan - Representin’

Since 2004, C Magazine has had the opportunity to not only feature Miss Ohio USA in some amazing photo spreads, but also learn a little bit more about the girl behind the crown. After completing these interviews over the years, it’s become less and less about the behind-the-scenes stories of cattiness and slashed dresses, “butt glue” and “Vaseline on the teeth” and more about the real girls who decide to compete because of the experience of trying something new and have the ultimate goal of helping others during their reign.

For the second year in a row, we sat down with the newly crowned Miss Ohio USA Ashley Caldwell and her counterpart from the state up north, Miss Michigan USA Channing Pierce. There was no rivalry here, but each admitted during the interview they were a little nervous about meeting each other, mostly because of those well-told stories of cattiness we mentioned earlier. Neither knew what to expect of the other when they arrived at the photo shoot, but soon found they had more in common than they thought.

Both are relatively new to the pageant world, as this was Channing’s first and Ashley’s second. Both were tomboys growing up and each is admittedly quirky with a wild sense of humor to match. Perhaps the biggest thing they have in common is that neither ever expected to actually win their respective titles. They are fun, personable, and as expected, beautiful; however, we were lucky enough to learn that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to “beauty” queens. Get an inside view of each contestant before they go on to compete for Miss USA 2011 on June 19 in Las Vegas.
Q & A » » » » » »

Where did you grow up?
Miss Michigan: I’m kind of from everywhere. I was born in Mission Viejo, California. I lived there for maybe two years, and then I moved to Alabama and lived there from age two through kindergarten. Then I moved to Michigan for 1st grade through 9th grade and then Nashville, Tennessee for high school. Then back to Michigan.

Miss Ohio: I’m from Gallipolis, Ohio. It’s a very, very small town. Everyone knows everyone. It’s one of those towns where you don’t even have to use a turn signal; you know where that person is going. I grew up on my grandma’s farm. I’ve been around livestock and animals all my life. The first thing I learned how to drive was a tractor.
This is a completely different atmosphere than what I grew up in.

Today was the first time you both met. So now you’ll have a buddy going into competition, right?
Miss Michigan: I was scared she was going to be different.

Miss Ohio: (laughs) I guess 
I’m normal now, though.

Miss Michigan: Going into it, we were both nervous that the other was going to be a “pageant girl.” Not that pageant girls are bad...

Miss Ohio: We both have the same experience. We’re real.

Since you are not “pageant girls,” what made you do it in the first place?
Miss Michigan: I wanted to experience something new. 
You gain something from everything you do. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I kind of imagined the most beautiful babes who would be older than me and I didn’t know of them yet because they were in the pageant world and I am in acting stuff. After orientation, I thought, “This won’t be bad.” But, going into it, I was the worst dancer, and to people who have done pageants before, everything was easy. I was just learning everything. I was like, “Whatever, I won’t win.” Some of these girls have been doing this their whole lives and they know all the tricks. They know about butt spray. They know about everything. I was the palest girl there. I didn’t get highlights before I went. I just was me. Winning wasn’t #1. I thought maybe I’ll get a job out of it and get some new friends. I was just excited to congratulate the winner. I never thought it would actually be me.

Miss Ohio: When I was younger, 
I was such a tomboy, and when 
I was 16, I won a festival pageant. There were a few girls who ran for the same pageant and always told me I should do something like this. One night, I decided I was going to try out for Miss Ohio USA. I did it for the first time last year and was in the Top 15, and I thought I will do it one more time and be me, not what the pageant world wants. The first year, I listened to what everyone else told me to do, and this year, I was just Ashley. I think that’s what made me shine and I’m really, really glad I stuck with it and did it.

So neither of you went into it and pulled out all the stops to compete?
Miss Michigan: I knew how to walk from my modeling work. People told me to work on my walk and do this different and that different. I just wanted to do my own thing and be natural, because if I don’t, I won’t look like me. I am the quirky one who was trying to make everyone have a good time.

How are you preparing for the June Miss USA pageant In vegas?
Miss Ohio: Mentally. Physically. Got to get your body in shape and look healthy. Tight, toned and then get your head where it needs to be and be yourself.

Miss Michigan: Interviews are my #1 weakness and what I’m working on most — even just things where I announce at the auto show and speaking to people. I’ve been working with Gas Station TV; that’s not a plug (laughs). I have a script and have to talk into a camera and I use my hands a lot so I’m working on that all the time.

What was the worst or funniest answer to a question you were asked during the pageant?
Miss Michigan: I completely bombed my question. It was the easiest question and all the girls were probably mad because I got such an easy question. I was so nervous and I picked up the next question. It was “What is your favorite sports team in Detroit?” I don’t watch sports and I could not think of anything. I said, “I don’t watch sports that much.” And they were still waiting on an answer. The judge who asked me this was the Dance Team coach for the Pistons, so, I probably should have said the Pistons. I also go to Redwings games all the time with my family and we’re huge hockey fans. If I had to choose, hockey is the most fun to watch, but, I couldn’t think of anything. I cocktail waitress in Detroit during the weekends and during games, so, I was just like, “Think of anything! Any team! Say something!” And then all I saw was blue and I said the Detroit Lions! Everyone in the crowd was like, “WHAT?” The Lions haven’t won a game in how long and are not that awesome. I think they did win the day after the pageant or something. I might have given them a little luck.

Miss Ohio: What about something stupid I did on stage on complete accident? Can I say that because it really did happen to me? The top 5 were backstage and you can’t hear anything. You can’t hear what the emcee is saying; you are just going when they tell you to go. They are announcing “Most Photogenic” and the girl in front of me was going out to pick up her award. In my mind, I think we are going back on stage to announce the winner. So, I’m on stage when I’m not supposed to so it looks like I’m out there trying to take the award from her. I looked at the crowd and my eyes got really big and I ran backstage so fast. They said it’s never happened at the Miss Ohio USA pageant. Thank goodness they had already picked the winner before that! It happens, I guess.

Miss Michigan: Some of the girls were saying, “You did bomb your question, so, it wasn’t really fair that you won. Those five questions are not judged, it’s more for the audience. The interviews are in the morning. I guess they had to justify why they didn’t win. I wouldn’t do that. I would have been happy for whoever won.

What’s your biggest vice?
Miss Ohio: Cheesecake. Sweets.

Miss Michigan: Red Bull. I’m addicted to it. I wonder if Red Bull would sponsor my life.

What was your first job?
Miss Ohio: Working at Ponderosa. Yuck. I used to say Pondergrossa. Not the chain, but our store that we worked in was gross. It eventually got shut down.

Miss Michigan: I was a janitor 
at Alpine Valley Sky Lodge in White Lake, Michigan. I had to take 
out the garbage. All the boys were snowboarders and they were there and I got free lift tickets. It was cool.

What were you like when you were 13 years old?
Miss Ohio: Bushy eyebrows. Hair pulled back. Basketball shorts. Playing basketball at lunch with the boys, that was me.

Miss Michigan: I was more of a tomboy. That was when the skater boys were cool.

Miss Ohio: That’s the age when you were trying to transition but you didn’t know how.

Miss Michigan: I just remember that friends were my life. I stopped running track so I could hang out with my friends more.

What is your most notable characteristic?
Miss Ohio: I get a lot of compliments on my smile. I like to smile. I’m in dental hygiene school, so thank goodness I have clean teeth and a good smile. Also my quirky, goofy attitude. My laugh is extremely loud. You either love it or you hate it. I get a lot of compliments on my legs, too.

Miss Michigan: I think I am the best friend anyone could have. I would go out of my way for anyone and everyone in my life. It’s something I am proud of and who I am. I know that my friends appreciate me.

What one possession do you treasure the most?
Miss Ohio: I don’t have a whole lot of sentimental possessions. But one thing that I do have is my grandmother’s scarf. It’s the only thing that she’s given me. One day, she may pass and I will have that to remember her by.

Miss Michigan: I have this ring on. I’ve had it on since January of 2009. It’s part of my grandma’s wedding ring that my grandfather gave her. It’s my grandmother’s old setting. She passed away when I was in 5th grade and my grandfather passed away two years ago. I like it because in some of the pageant pictures you can see it, so it’s like they are here with me.

What makes you angry?
Miss Ohio: People not brushing their teeth. I’m just a fanatic. What makes me angry? In Ohio, riding the left lane. You are going 55 in a 70 or when two 18-wheelers are trying to pass each other and are taking a half an hour to do it.

Miss Michigan: When guys are rude to women. Hitting on them in bars. Just being a cocktail waitress you see people drinking and interacting, but when they are rude, it makes me angry. I usually stick up for the girl.

What is your focus during your reign?
Miss Ohio: I am an ambassador for the Pink Ribbon Girls, which is for breast cancer. I want to also mention that my boyfriend is a diabetic, so, I want to get involved with the American Diabetes Association, too.

Miss Michigan: I want to work with young girls to try to show them to be confident in who they are — not feeling like you have to be anyone else and be proud to be different. I didn’t have the confidence I have today. I realized that everything that makes you different makes you cool and I’m proud of it. I would just like to help younger girls with getting confidence earlier in life than I did.