It takes a lot to be a beauty queen.
The countless hours spent on community service and competition all seem to blend in, and the spotlights can get awfully hot. It can be overwhelming.
Many women looking to make it into events such as the Miss USA Pageant have prepared for years for that singular moment of being crowned.
But for Winter Park resident — and first time competitor — Jazzmyn Iglesias, the decision to compete is spontaneous, derived from a love of helping those around her, especially children dealing with autism.
“There’s a lot going on with the platform, but if I were to sum up all of the interviews, and all of the community engagement and all of the nonprofits and everything, I’m actually very excited to take this task head on,” Iglesias said. “I’m nervous, because with anything there comes a lot of responsibility, but I’m just so excited for the entire process.”
Like every competitor, the new Miss Winter Park will run with a platform of her choosing, and the decision to focus on autism awareness was incredibly simple given Iglesias’ career as a board certified behavioral analyst.
Her passion for helping kids started during her time as a student at Rollins College, where a 2011 field trip to the Quest Kid’s Academy changed her life.
“I ended up staying there for two hours — seeing how the therapists were making actual, real-life improvements in the children and in the lives of families,” Iglesias said. “I got to speak with the families to see how important it was to them. … Right after the end of the two hours I said, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”
Since that epiphany seven years ago, Iglesias now holds two degrees in psychology and enjoys her time helping kids as a behavioral analyst.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Her work with children isn’t the only epiphany that has led her to new places. Her entrance into the Miss Florida USA Pageant was a moment of happenstance, as well.
One day while sitting on the couch with her mom, who was visiting from out of town, a commercial for the Miss Florida USA Pageant came on. The commercial inspired a train of thought — which included an idea of how to get her mother, who is disabled, to move down to Florida so Iglesias could help look after her.
“I told my mom, ‘OK, if you want to come back down to Florida, and if it’s something you’re interested in, and if you’re willing to do X, Y and Z, and help me out with this, I’ll apply to Miss Florida,’” Iglesias said. “So it started off as a way to get my mother motivated and to get her really involved with some of the stuff that I’m doing — she does have a disability, so I’m trying to get her involved as much as possible.”
After applying and taking up the mantle of Miss Winter Park, Iglesias set out to try and learn as much as she could in the time that she had before the competition Nov. 4.
As someone who had never competed in a pageant before, Iglesias turned to a good friend she had made in the ballroom dance class she takes — who happens to be a former Miss Florida winner.
Thanks to the words of wisdom from her friend, the new Miss Winter Park took on a pageant coach in Tampa who has helped her learning the ins-and-outs of the competition — which includes everything from preparing for interviews to diets and nutritions to be ready for the swimsuit portion.
“(Entering the competition) started off as a way to get my mother motivated and to get her really involved with some of the stuff that I’m doing — she does have a disability, so I’m trying to get her involved as much as possible.”
— Jazzmyn Iglesias
By the end of this month Iglesias also will participate in a sort of “pageant university” organized by her coach. There, she and a group of other ladies will go out to Tampa to sit down with coaches who have won competitions — think of it as a bootcamp for pageant queens.
While the training itself will continue for the next four-and-a-half months and play a vital role in her time as Miss Winter Park, Iglesias is just as — if not, more — interested in helping her community and enjoying a new experience.
“One thing that I’m actually really excited about is just using the platform — that was the most exciting thing for me, using the platform for good,” Iglesias said. “And it’s an entirely new learning area for me. I think the whole process of really figuring out what these girls are really about and what the competition is really about versus what everyone thinks it is, is what’s more exciting to me.”