She's beauty, she's Gracie: Gotha native to compete in Miss Florida pageant

Olympia High alum and Gotha resident Gracie Dyer will compete in the Miss Florida 2019 pageant next week in Lakeland.

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  • | 6:54 p.m. June 18, 2019
Courtesy Rafael Tongol
Courtesy Rafael Tongol
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Gotha resident Gracie Dyer only has competed in two pageants, but already, she has punched her ticket to the Miss Florida 2019 competition. 

An Olympia High alumna and University of Central Florida student, Dyer’s roots are in West Orange. However, it’s her recently acquired title of Miss Manatee that will allow her to compete for the title of Miss Florida 2019.

Until now, Dyer only has competed in two other pageants — Miss UCF and Miss Manatee, both of which took place in February. This will be her first time competing at Miss Florida, and she’s ready to put her best foot forward.

“I want to have a good time,” said Dyer, 20. “I want to show the state of Florida who I am, who Gracie Dyer is.”



Growing up, Dyer was no stranger to the stage. In fact, it’s where she thrived. She has been performing since she was just 8 years old and a student at Thornebrooke Elementary. Her knack for working the stage and playing different roles continued throughout the rest of her school years.

“I got my start in elementary school and fell in love with it when I saw my friends in a show,” she said. “I decided to get involved, and I’ve done shows ever since. I’ve done dance classes, singing lessons, acting lessons, all of it, but I’ve never been just Gracie Dyer on the stage.” 

Even as a senior at UCF, Dyer still makes time for expressing her creative side. She starred alongside her boyfriend in a music video for the song, “Grow Old With You,” by a cappella group VoicePlay earlier this year, and it was at UCF that she first discovered the world of pageants.

“I saw advertisement and the signs around UCF to audition (for Miss UCF),” Dyer said. “I know Miss UCF 1989, Shalisa Sloan James — she’s a family friend. She encouraged me to get involved and said I’d be great for it. (At Miss UCF) we rehearsed from October until the pageant in February. There’s a big opening number. I competed with maybe 13 other girls, and we all got really close while rehearsing for six months for the opening number and practicing our talents.”

Dyer said Miss UCF includes both girls who have experience in the world of pageants and those who don’t. Although she was new to pageants, she earned third runner-up and the recognition of Miss Congeniality. That’s when she decided she might like to compete in more.

When she saw there was another pageant the following weekend — Miss Manatee — Dyer wanted to give it a try. Many county competitions, including Miss Manatee, allow both local and statewide entrants, so Dyer was able to compete.

“It’s all about learning,” she said. “The more you do it, the more you’re going to learn, and the better you’re going to get at it. The next Saturday, we drove to Bradenton, and local pageants are a little different, because they are open statewide.”

It was a daylong affair, from turning in paperwork at 9 a.m. and participating in both interviews and rehearsals. Each girl was allowed to run through her talent twice, and by 3 p.m. it was time to get ready for the competition. Dyer was pleasantly surprised when she ended up taking home the crown.

“I was very calm during the whole thing,” she said. “I felt really good about my performance but didn’t realize I’d done super well, because I hadn’t done (pageants) before. I was very surprised when I was crowned Miss Manatee. I’m very blessed.”



Courtesy Rafael Tongol
Courtesy Rafael Tongol

As Miss Manatee, Dyer now will compete in Miss Florida.

“I decided to continue on just because I was so happy and thinking, ‘What? I won?’” she said. “It’s like, ‘This is incredible, what else can I do?’ The scholarship opportunities are even bigger at Miss Florida. And (pageants are) not at all what you believe the stereotype is — there’s no cattiness with the girls. We’re just very supportive of one another.

“I’ve been preparing a lot more for Miss Florida just because it’s so new to me,” she said. “I’m very excited, but I also know this is a big deal.”

I’ve done dance classes, singing lessons, acting lessons, all of it, but I’ve never been just Gracie Dyer on the stage.” - Gracie Dyer

Miss Florida is also a stepping stone to the Miss America competition. And the Miss America organization is rolling out a new and improved version this year, dubbed Miss America 2.0.

As of last year, candidates no longer are judged on outward appearance. This included the elimination of the swimsuit competition, and each candidate can choose her wardrobe for evening wear to express individual style. Candidates also now have more opportunities to advocate for their chosen social impact initiatives.

“That’s super empowering as a young woman today,” she said. “Miss America is the No. 1 provider of scholarships across the country, and I wanted to choose something with animals for my social impact platform. My platform is greyhound awareness, based on the amendment Florida passed. By 2020, there will be (more than) 6,000 greyhounds homeless in Florida, so my platform is raising awareness for adoptions.”

At the competition, candidates are judged on their interview performances, stage presence, talents and more. A lot of preparation is required for success. Dyer will participate in interview preparations, and she has been practicing everything from hair and makeup to her talent. She will sing “100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man” from the musical “Wonderful Town.”

“I’ve been practicing my walk around the house, and I have a lot of fun with that,” she said. “It’s paying attention to all of the little details, because you never know what matters — like practicing your makeup or even how you look when you talk to someone.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m really passionate about my platform, I love performing and singing, and I’m excited to do that in front of the state of Florida.”


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