Thursday, April 9, 2009

Capture Carolina Interview with Miss NC Int. 08 Melissa Chambers

photo by: Donald Latham
Interview by Will Hardison

It’s like rocket science to me.
Let me just set the stage for you. I know as much about beauty pageants as I do landing a space shuttle on the moon, and my equivalent expertise to aerospace engineering stops at building a homemade rocket in fifth grade. Mine was the one that blew up. So needless to say I was a bit nervous to learn that Melissa was excited about our phone conversation.

For those whose rockets also blew up, let me fill you in on the different pageant types. The Miss America system is based on talent. Contestants are heavily judged and critiqued on a talent or skill such as singing or dancing. Miss USA, Donald Trump’s grandiose idea, is based on physical beauty. Contestants are more model-like, tall, super-thin, and overall striking and are judged according to their physical appearance. Miss International is based on the contestant’s platform. No, not something the contestant stands on, but what the contestant stands for. A large portion of the judging is based on the contestant’s interview and how well she actually supports what she stands for – her “platform”. We learn something new everyday, and today it was my day to learn about pageants. So, now that we are on the same page, let’s get rolling.

Who is Melissa Chambers? (You’d better be taking notes, guys)
Melissa Chambers, a 20-year-old junior at NC State, is the 2008 and current Miss North Carolina International. I could tell from the first couple of seconds on the phone with her that I had nothing to be nervous about. Melissa immediately made me feel comfortable as I scrambled to tell her I knew nothing about women and, more specifically, pageants.

Melissa isn’t your normal grew-up-doing-beauty-pageants-because-mom-had-something-to-prove-to-her-knitting-club contestant. She started competing just two years ago due to a suggestion from a fellow friend and competitor, Miss Asheville. Starting out, Melissa competed for fun and for the chance to win extra tuition money for college. But, her motives quickly changed when she began to see the difference she could make in the lives of young people, especially young girls. Chambers thrives on her passion for young ones and their ability to dream. Her platform is actually two-fold: Dare to Dream and Inner Beauty.

What does she stand for?
Turning her focus more toward inner beauty, Chambers travels across the state of North Carolina speaking, mentoring, and coaching young girls on the ability to love themselves for who they are on the inside versus what they look like on the outside. Chambers uses facts and statistics on graphical touch-ups in magazines and popular ads to help show young girls that the “beauty” they see on TV, in movies, and on magazine racks is media-driven and fake – Photoshopped, to be exact.

Where does she go?
Melissa has done a wide variety of appearances from schools, athletic events, grand openings, hospitals, and much more. In fact she has done 75 appearances while wearing the crown. Her favorite appearance to date has been the VA Hospital. I told her they probably haven’t seen a girl that young and pretty in decades. Guys, don’t worry. She loves throwing the first pitch at a baseball game. No, you cannot get her number. Sorry.

If you’re reading this, Melissa approved this piece of the article. So, thank you, Melissa, for allowing me to tell everyone that, yes, you are single. But, before readers flood me with requests to ask her out, know that she is 100% happy and content with being single. When she is not out doing appearances and mentoring young girls, she is hitting the books, cheering on the Wolf Pack, and spending time with family. When do you think she would have time for you anyway? This girl has more ambition and dreams than the Little Engine That Could. You’ve got to respect her for knowing what she wants and where her priorities lie.

Post crown?
Unfortunately, but fortunately at the same time, Melissa crowns the 2009 Miss North Carolina International at the end of February. Why do I say both unfortunately and fortunately? Well, it does mean her reign is up. But, it also means that Melissa has been fortunate enough to go through the experience of being Miss North Carolina 2008. I found it to be extremely refreshing when she was more thankful for the opportunity to represent the state and mentor young girls than to be giving up the crown. “No one can take this experience away from me. The crown doesn’t make the person, the person makes the crown,” stated Chambers. Her only hope is that she crowns someone who will support and develop the title with as much passion as she did.

Post crown, and post graduation?
I’m sure Melissa is somewhat looking forward to free weekends, a normal college life, and time for a social life. But, something tells me she’ll continue to mentor young girls on inner beauty and the idea that it is ok to dream. Her post graduation plans include working on becoming a spokes model of some sort. I would assume for a good cause. Maybe the official spokes model for Capture Carolina? Who knows?

That’s a wrap.
From our 45-minute phone conversation I can tell you that Melissa is something special. She isn’t your average, 20-year-old college girl who hits the bar every weekend. Believe me. I know what those girls are like. I went to ECU. She’s different in a positive way. She keeps her dreams within reach, her family close, and she firmly believes in what she stands for. Not too many 20-year-olds in college are put together like Melissa. She even taught me something about myself during the interview. My advice: the next time you see a pretty girl with a crown and sash don’t assume she’s just a Barbie doll who charmed the judges, but tell yourself that, if she’s an international contestant, you better believe she stands for something.

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