Path to pageantry: Windermere resident to compete in Miss Florida

Alyssa Racquel Hill is a professional ballroom dancer, a model and a first-time competitor in the Miss Florida pageant.

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  • | 2:20 p.m. January 15, 2020
 Alyssa Racquel Hill began her path to pageantry through the modeling work she’s done with the company Mac Duggal.
Alyssa Racquel Hill began her path to pageantry through the modeling work she’s done with the company Mac Duggal.
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If you told Windermere resident Alyssa Racquel Hill a year ago that she’d be a contestant for the Miss Florida pageant, she never would have believed it.

But that’s exactly where she is today.

“This is my first pageant,” Hill said. “I did dance for a long time, but I wanted to do something new and I never knew if I would be able to do pageantry. It’s not something that my body type was really good for. … When I was younger, I never was super confident that I could do something like this, and if you asked me a year ago, I would never imagine that I would be in this position.”

Hill is the current Miss Winter Springs, and she’ll be competing in the Miss Florida USA pageant from Jan. 16 to 19 in Coral Springs. It’s her first time competing in the statewide pageant, which features hundreds of young women from across the state. 

“To enter the Miss Florida pageant, you have to have a title, and that (Miss Winter Springs title) was given to me to run for Miss Florida,” Hill said. “You have to be a title holder to compete and represent a city. I wanted to be Miss Windermere, but that was already taken and that competition was earlier (in 2019).”

Individuals who are interested in competing in the Miss Florida pageant apply online to represent a city. If the individual qualifies, they are given a local title to represent a Florida city. From there, they are eligible to compete for the title of Miss Florida. Each contestant is encouraged to do work with nonprofit and charitable organizations as part of the application process. During the Miss Florida pageant itself, contestants are judged upon swimwear, evening attire and an interview process.

“It’s such an honor to be accepted into the pageant because thousands and thousands of girls apply to be part of it and they only accept a little over 200 — and that’s including Miss Florida and Miss (Florida) Teen USA,” Hill said. “If you win Miss Florida, then you go on to Miss USA and then, hopefully, Miss Universe.” 

A Windermere native, Hill, 21, is an alumna of Dr. Phillips High School and an honors graduate from Valencia College. She’s also a renowned and talented professional ballroom dancer and was a graduate of the dance magnet program at Dr. Phillips High. In fact, she works with a nonprofit called USA Dance, which is a program that works with children with special needs.

“I volunteer with special-needs children and we teach them how to ballroom dance and to put on shows to help break the stereotype … you can still pursue your dream and dance,” Hill said.

The path to pageantry is something Hill discovered through the modeling company Mac Duggal, where she worked as a plus-sized model. Many of her fellow models were beauty pageant title holders, and it inspired her to pursue pageantry. She first got into modeling during the summer of 2019, and she eventually looked into entering the Miss Florida pageant soon thereafter.

Before getting into modeling, Hill didn’t really think about — or even consider — entering the pageant. Initially, she didn’t think entering the Miss Florida pageant would be an option for her due to her body type. 

“In the beginning of this process … I didn’t have the best, healthiest lifestyle,” Hill said. “I was a dancer, but I had weighed 180 pounds. I was able to exercise and (begin) a healthier lifestyle. I knew I wanted to make a change and I wanted ... to be happier and I was able to get my weight down to 150.

“I was told in order for me to be successful in this pageant that I had to weigh 125 and no more, and I’m 5 (foot) 9 (inches),” Hill added. “From a girl who used to weigh 180 and was told I had to weigh no more than 125, this was a little discouraging for me but I knew I wanted to succeed. So, I did everything I could to change my exercise plan, and I became healthier.” 

Although Hill initially didn’t think that entering the pageant would be an option for her, she eventually decided to just go for it. In the process of making the lifestyle changes to become healthier, she gained a little more confidence in herself. After gaining that confidence, she threw her hat into the ring and entered the pageant. Throughout that journey, she learned some lessons about body positivity along the way. 

“I realized there’s such a stereotype that girls have to have a perfect body or perfect look to be happy and accepted and to compete in a beauty pageant,” Hill said. “But, we’re all beautiful and we can all be successful at whatever we are. You don’t have to be a number — specific number — to pursue your dreams and be successful. This is when I looked in a mirror and said, ‘I am beautiful and I am happy and I am healthy. I don’t have to be 125.’”


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