All Hail The Queen: Kentucky selects Hilltopper as pageant queen

Lacey Graham, 19, a Elizabethtown sophomore and broadcast major was crowned miss teen Kentucky United States. She got into pageantry when she was 16 and walked into a salon and the hair stylist recommended it. I was reluctant, “At first I never thought I would do one but I did” said Graham. Graham has won Miss Kentucky Fair and Miss Teen Kentucky United States. The scoring of Miss Teen Kentucky United States is 25 percent swimsuit, 25 percent evening gown, 25 percent interview and 25 percent on stage question. Graham was most nervous about the on stage question. Michael Noble Jr./HERALD

Kalee Chism

Every year, Kentucky selects a new queen to represent the state to the rest of the country in Miss Teen United States; this year, the queen a resident of WKU: Miss Teen Kentucky United States Lacey Graham.

Graham, a sophomore broadcast news major from Elizabethtown, started participating in pageants on a whim at the age of 16.

“One day I was in a hair salon, and a stylist asked me if I had ever done a pageant and I said, ‘No,’” Graham said. “And he said he really thinks I should try one, and I tried one and I’ve been doing them ever since.”

Graham said her favorite part about participating in the pageant is all the people she has met along the way. She said she was able to meet amazing girls from all around the state of Kentucky whom she wouldn’t have been able to meet had it not been for the pageant.

The pageant is made up of four phases: swimsuit, 10-minute interview, evening gown and onstage questions. The pageant also had five judges so each category had a specialist, according to Katy Moody-Cusick, the director of Miss Kentucky United States Pageant and former Miss Kentucky United States 2014.

“I look for some [judges] that are very well-rounded,” Moody-Cusick said. “What we did this year is we have four phases of the competition, so we had five judges. So I selected a judge who would be a specialist in each phase, and then our fifth judge was a former Miss Tennessee United States so she would be all-encompassing every phase and knowing a lot about it.”

Moody-Cusick said stage presence is a huge factor when judges evaluate contestants.

“They look for the girl that excels the most in each category,” Moody-Cusick said. “Stage presence is a factor in everything other than the interview.”

Miss Teen Kentucky United States will attend events, including the Unbridled Eve Gala, the Kentucky Derby and the Miss Teen United States pageant, throughout her reign, but much of what winners do with their title is up to them.

“It’s different for every queen,” Moody-Cusick said. “Sometimes they’ll have opportunities that pop up that they’ll go do on their own. It’s a lot of different opportunities for every queen.”

Moody-Cusick said her favorite part of directing the pageants is to help the young women get as much out of the reign as she did. Reflecting on her experience being crowned, she wanted to make sure the winners knew how to make the most out of their title. Moody-Cusick also wanted to show queens how to market themselves correctly.

Since winning, Graham hopes to spread her platform of confidence, which she is already promoting on social media. She’s doing this through the promotion of her Facebook page called “Be Confident,” where she shares daily quotes about confidence and personal testimonies about how people have overcome situations in their lives where they didn’t have confidence in themselves.

“It’s an issue that affects men, women, young [and] old, and so I definitely want to use my title to travel to other places in the city,” Graham said. “Maybe do something — make a stand on the Facebook page, maybe have a fundraiser … to get to schools or something like that.”