- July 14, 2021
When Horizon West resident Lindsey Franxman took the stage at the Miss Florida USA competition, she was making history.
That’s because the 25-year-old is the first Miss Horizon West titleholder, and she gets to blaze the trail for the community’s representation in the Miss Florida USA organization going forward.
Although Franxman only has lived in Horizon West since February, her passion for the community is evident in the way she speaks about it. Its young, up-and-coming spirit is what drew her to the area in the first place. Now, she gets to represent it.
Franxman got her start in pageants six years ago with the Miss America organization. Coming from a theater background, she loved the idea of having additional performance opportunities and the chance to compete for scholarships.
When she was getting dual degrees in journalism and theater at Indiana University, Franxman went to see the Miss Indiana University competition.
“I’d always been a performer, I loved being on stage, and it gave me the opportunity to continue doing that in a wider capacity in my community than I had previously known about,” she said of her first pageant experience.
Franxman has experience in both the Miss America and Miss USA organizations. Last year, she served as Miss Orlando 2020 with Miss America. Now, she’s Miss Horizon West USA with Miss USA.
“Pageants have given me so much in terms of professional skills, interview practice, the discipline of preparing a talent, and preparing yourself both physically and mentally for a competition,” she said. “It’s been fantastic in terms of being able to navigate my career path both on stage and off as I move forward with my education and move forward with my life.”
The Miss USA organization selects delegates through an application process. Miss USA Florida receives 1,000 applicants statewide, but only a maximum of 150 girls — both teens and miss contestants — are chosen.
This year’s Miss Florida USA pageant took place the weekend of July 16 in Coral Springs, and the contestants enjoyed a weekend of female empowerment and pageantry. The first day includes events, photoshoots, appearances and meeting with sponsors. Contestants also interview for the job of Miss Florida USA.
The second day consists of a preliminary competition in which all delegates participate. From that preliminary competition, the top 15 highest-scoring participants move onto the final competition.
Although Franxman did not make the top 15, she couldn’t be more grateful for the experience.
“Ultimately, only one winner walks away, but everyone feels included and accepted,” she said. “You prepare for what’s on stage through the judging criteria, but the best part is that it builds confidence. Being able to prepare for an interview and speak to a panel of judges — and being able to communicate your unique and personal brand in such a short period of time — are skills that you’re going to utilize and be confident in moving forward. Whether or not you get this job, it’s going to help you get the next job in your career.”
There are other life skills that stem from pageantry, too. One of the things both pageants and theater have taught Franxman is resiliency — the theme of 2020 and beyond.
“Pageants have given me so much in terms of professional skills, interview practice, the discipline of preparing a talent, and preparing yourself both physically and mentally for a competition.” — Lindsey Franxman
Her resiliency was tested when the public-relations professional was among thousands of Disney cast members furloughed toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Disney, Franxman served on six different opening teams for initiatives and attractions that were opening during her time there — more than any of her superiors.
“It was heartbreaking when I received that furlough notice from Disney, but I’ve always believed in Disney happy endings and my skills as being a public-relations professional,” she said.
But she didn’t lose hope. Instead, Franxman used that time to focus on her master’s program in mass communications at the University of Florida, work toward gaining fluency in Spanish, and support Horizon West-centric events.
Since then, she has secured a role as a public relations and business manager with Westgate Resorts. She’s also almost finished with her master’s degree.
“That’s been my comeback,” she said. “One of the biggest things you learn in theater is resilience and being able to bounce back from what is — or is perceived as — rejection but being able to learn from that experience.”
When Franxman first moved to Horizon West, she served as a judge for the Horizon West’s Got Talent competition.
“I got to see firsthand what this community was like, and not only that, but because it’s a smaller and still-growing community, (I saw) how close-knit everyone was and how much everyone wanted to support new local community businesses and initiatives,” she said. “Through that, I was able to partner with several local organizations in my pageant pursuits and in my community-service initiatives to promote this community — not only to the wider Central Florida area but to also orient myself with how close-knit and fun and vibrant this community was.”
And she carried that into competition, too. One of the newest elements of this year’s Miss Florida USA competition was a costume presentation. Each delegate was required to dress up in a costume that represented her hometown.
Franxman worked with Kim Patel — the costume designer for Horizon West Theater Company — to develop an original costume design to showcase Horizon West. Dressed in hues of yellow, pink and purple, she was essentially a “sunset goddess.” The colors represented the beautiful sunsets for which Horizon West is named.
“I was even told by one of the judges at this costume competition that they learned something new about Horizon West that day, and ultimately, that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be Miss Horizon West,” she said. “It was so fun to see these other girls’ communities and how they were very diverse in how — and what — they represented in their community.”
Previously, Franxman’s platform was promoting accessibility and equity of educational theater programs. Now, she developing a new initiative called Herstory — one that is centered on ways her love of reading, writing and storytelling have empowered her and how she can share that with other girls to help them find their voices, too.
In the meantime, she considers representing Horizon West a big honor, especially because she gets to lay the groundwork for the women who will hold the title in years to come.
“I get to build the basis in this community of very involved people who are so willing to support their representatives, support their neighbors and support each other,” she said. “I’m excited for what comes next.”