French named Miss America’s Teen First Runner Up


WHEELERSBURG— Local Wheelersburg graduate, Miss Paisley French, was crowned Miss Ohio’s Teen last fall. Prior to that, French won Miss Portsmouth’s Teen during her first ever pageant. More recently, she leveraged these wins to travel to The Walt Disney Theatre in Orlando to compete in the Miss America Pageant, where she won First Runner Up Miss America’s Teen after months of preparing for the day.

“The theme of the week was ‘Bringing Back the Magic of Miss America and it was amazing,” French explained. “It kind of tied into the Disney aspect of everything. Being at the Walt Disney Theatre, which is such a sacred and legendary space, was just an amazing experience. I remember stepping onto that stage for the first time and it was the most surreal moment of my life, reflecting and realizing, ‘wow, I’m on the Miss America stage.’”

As the pageant progressed, and French was named victorious in various levels of competition, the Miss Ohio’s Teen said she felt more and more at ease.

“You know, it was such a strange feeling,” French recalled. “I just had such a peace of mind about everything that whole day. Our final night was Saturday and I was so calm and collected; I think I was just so grateful to be there and the opportunities I had been given. I had already felt like I won something.”

Of course, the teen went further.

“When they announced the top ten, I felt amazing. From then out, I was just enjoying every second of it. I got to compete and dance and show what I love to do, so I was having a blast,” French said. “When they announced the top five, I couldn’t believe how far I was making it. When they announced the winner, and I was named First Runner Up, I just felt so honored and grateful. Coming home from Florida with Miss America’s Teen First Runner Up isn’t too shabby.”

French is currently 19 and only recently graduated from Wheelersburg. She is enrolled in Ohio State University, where she is studying dance and communication.

The pageant life is fresh for our new Miss Ohio’s Teen, who only embarked on the endeavor starting last year. While pageantry is new to French, being on stage is part of her very fabric.

“It was honestly so fun. I grew up a dancer, so I’m used to being on stage,” French said. “So, I just took this as another opportunity to perform and be on stage and get to know all these other girls. It was such a fun experience.”

While French views the ordeal as a fun and memorable experience, she also believes there is a heavy weight of expectation that comes with being given an opportunity like the one she has been given. She views the title with respect and wants to make good of it, by using it to further her platform and be a good example to other young girls.

“I think me being Miss Ohio’s Teen is just another opportunity to spread joy and kindness and to be a light for those around me,” French explained. “I think it is an opportunity to empower other women, especially young girls, in our local area. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to be that role model and example.”

French said the current priority for her is honoring her role as Miss Ohio’s Teen and doing good with it while she can.

“Right now, I’m just soaking up the excitement of the Miss America’s Teen pageant. The next few months, I plan on continuing my reign of Miss Ohio’s Teen. I may continue this journey in the future, but, for now, I’m just enjoying the ride and continuing my work as Miss Ohio’s Teen.”

While new to the world of pageantry, French says that she has quickly fallen in love with the opportunities she otherwise may not have had. She also wears her many wins as badges of honor.

“Me, coming in as an outsider to pageantry, I was familiar with a lot of the stigma related to pageantry, but this journey has really opened my eyes to the positive sides and the good things pageants have to offer,” French explained. “I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a lot of scholarship money, which is going towards my education. However, one thing I love about it is the emphasis on community service, because it has allowed me to focus energy on my platform.”

French continued, explaining that this title allows her to highlight her platform further, which is called “Dancing for Hope.”

“Dancing for Hope is my way of sharing my love of dance with others, while also raising awareness for dancers and their families who have been impacted by cancer,” French said. “I’ve been able to work with Dancers Against Cancer, which is an organization that wants to create an alliance in the dance community by raising money and financially supporting these dancers and their families who have been impacted by cancer.”

According to French, she is playing the pageant world by ear for now but is considering more local pageants to qualify for Miss Ohio, now that her age allows her to compete.

“Right now, I’m just taking this one step at a time and seeing where this pageant journey takes me, but we’re just focusing on this current timeline and platform,” French said.

Regardless of the outcome of future pageants, the humble Miss Ohio’s Teen says she is grateful for where she is, the platform she has, and the memories she is creating along the way.

“It really has been just a wonderful experience,” French said. “I have had a lot of family and friends come out and support me. I had so much support that I’m so very truly grateful for. I’m so excited for the journey ahead.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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