photos including cover: Gerardo Encinas Photography

The definition of a beauty pageant is a competition that mainly focuses on the physical beauty of its contestants, although such contests also incorporate personality, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. But a true beauty pageant focuses on more than just a young lady’s outer-beauty, it’s her inner beauty, her strength, her character,  the way she carries herself, her beliefs and the ability to represent the state or country at which the pageant represents.  Stephanie Miranda took the stage in the Miss Ohio Latina pageant and did just that.  With her beauty, grace, charisma and strong love for her culture she was crowned Miss Ohio Latina of 2013.  SayWhatNews had the opportunity to speak to the newly crowned Miss Ohio Latina as she starts her reign as Miss Ohio Latina and represents the state of Ohio and the Latina community:

SayWhatNews: Good morning Miss Ohio Latina.  Thanks for interviewing with SayWhatNews.  First tell us who is Stephanie Miranda?

Stephanie:  Hello my name is Stephanie Miranda I’m 19 years old, I’m a student at Youngstown State University where I study Communication. I was born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Now I live in Youngstown, Ohio with my parent and grandmother Alberto Miranda, Fanny Morales, and Maria Sanchez. I have two older brothers named Alberto Miranda, and Jose Miranda; I was excited to represent all the Latinos in Youngstown and now I get the opportunity to do the same but with the whole state of Ohio. I am more than honored.

SayWhatNews: What is your most memorable moment growing up in Youngstown, Ohio?

Stephanie:  One of the most memorable moments growing up must have been having the same friend’s throughout my whole life. Watching each and every single one of use change and grow up. Graduation was also very special to me.


SayWhatNews:  Tell us a little something about your family life?

Stephanie: My family is really close. We have 5 people living in the house including me: there is my father Alberto Miranda, my mother Fanny Morales, my grandmother Maria Sanchez, and my brother Jose Miranda. I have an older brother Alberto he just got his own house. I also have a beagle named Suzy.

SayWhatNews:  Did you ever compete in pageants before entering the Miss Ohio Latina pageant?

Stephanie:  I did one back in 2008 called National American Miss. I had no idea what I was doing so I took it as a learning experience.  

SayWhatNews:  What inspired you submit your photos and entry form to the Miss Ohio Latina pageant?

Stephanie: I have always wanted to do more with pageants. My father found out about Miss Ohio Latina so he gave me all the information. What better way to start doing pageants when being able to represent my roots as a Latina. My inspiration was my family and the love I have to my culture and for pageants.


SayWhatNews: How were you notified that you had been chosen to compete in the 2013 Miss Ohio Latina pageant?

Stephanie:  I sent an email to the Director Yasin Cuevas, she gave me a call. We talked for about 30-40 minutes. After that we set up a meeting where she would tell me if I was chosen. After the meeting I knew I was going to be Miss Youngstown Latina. 

SayWhatNews: Once you were notified that you were chosen to be one of the 15 contestants to compete, how did you prepare for the pageant?

Stephanie:  For any pageant you have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. No one knows the outcome. I worked out and started to eat healthier. We also had a lot of practices that all the contestants went to. I worked on questions that I might get asked, and put my best foot forward.  


SayWhatNews:  Pageants are known for the beautiful gowns the contestants wear.  How long did it take you to find your dress and how many dresses did you consider?

Stephanie:  Lucky for me I had my gown already. I loved it so I didn’t have to go through that process. 

SayWhatNews: How grueling were the rehearsals to prepare for the pageant?

Stephanie:  All the rehearsals where either in Cleveland or Columbus, so either way I had to travel. They were very long and exhausting but hard work pays off in the long run.   

SayWhatNews: Another thing beauty pageants are known for are the special pageant tricks contestants do to look beautiful, for example using duct tape to tape your badge in place.  What pageant trick if any did you use?

Stephanie: I used double sided tape to keep my bathing suit from moving as I was on stage.

SayWhatNews:  Stephanie, during the competition your make-up and hair were beautiful.  Did you do your own hair and make-up?

Stephanie: Yes, I love doing makeup and hair so as the girls had other people doing their things I was on the side doing my own.

SayWhatNews:  What talents did you showcase during the pageant?

Stephanie:  In Miss Ohio Latina pageant there wasn’t a talent section. We did show our traditional gowns. Each girl had a gown that represented where they came from. Mine was an India Taina from Puerto Rico.


SayWhatNews: Tell us about the moment when you and 1st runner-up Miss Columbus Carolina Peguero stood their embracing each other while waiting for the winner to be announced—what was going through your mind?

Stephanie:  As each girl got called up, and Miss Columbus Latina and I were the only ones left. My heart started to beat faster. We held hands as we waited for one of our names to be called. It felt like forever before they announced the winner.

As I was standing there I looked back at all the fun times we all had together, all the laughs and amazing memories I will take with me. I knew I had a great contestant in front of me and either of us would represent Ohio in the best possible way we can. As I took one last breath they said “Miss Ohio Latina 2013 is Miss Youngstown Latina” I couldn’t believe it, I looked out into the crowd and saw my family with the biggest smiles on their faces and jumping up and down. The feeling of hearing your name called out is something that I can’t even explain. I’m so thankful to be Miss Ohio Latina 2013 and excited to make more memories.


SayWhatNews: And after your name was called and Miss Ohio Latina 2012, Tatiana Figueroa placed the crown on your head-were you having an outer-body experience?

Stephanie: As Tatiana put the crown on my head I was starting to cry and she said congratulations, she wiped my tear from my cheek and said good luck in everything.


SayWhatNews: One of the requirements of being Miss Ohio Latina is to travel abroad.  Do you know where you will be traveling?

Stephanie: On August 18. 2013 I will be travailing to Cancun Mexico, for the national competition Miss Latina US.

SayWhatNews: Stephanie, just recently you walked the run-way in Designer D. Hayes fashion show.  How amazing was that?

Stephanie:  One of my favorite things about modeling is the runway. I feel like I can get back on stage and walk it three more times after I’m done. D. Hayes is an amazing Designer with incredible skills. He can make any fashion show come to life with his designs.  I was so lucky to be picked as one of his models. I would love to do it again. 

SayWhatNews: Miss Ohio Latina is the official state preliminary pageant for National Miss Latina U.S. and the winner represents the Latin community in the international Miss Latin America of the World competition.  What’s next in the future for Miss Ohio Latina, Stephanie Miranda?

Stephanie:  I would love to represent all the Latinos in the U.S and also the Latinos of the World that would be amazing. My pageant journey doesn’t stop there after I crown the next Miss Ohio Latina I will go for Miss Ohio USA, with all the love and support of my family and friends.