Confessions of A Queen: What It Was Like When I Got To Miss USA

In Inspiration, She Speaks by Julia Dalton11 Comments


Ever since I can remember, I watched the Miss USA competition on live network television. I watched the women mesmerized by their confidence, intelligence, and beauty. They had no idea that they were changing a little girl’s life. That they changed my life. At around age seven, I established my dream of becoming Miss USA. I wanted to inspire young women the way the women I watched on television had inspired me.

I visualized the moment I would be crowned and honored with my dream job every day of every year until I was ready to compete. That vision kept my morals and values in line with my faith. That vision empowered me to tune out the naysayers and bullies. That vision led me out of an abusive relationship. That vision gave me hope.

After graduating college, I won Miss North Carolina USA and would be going on to compete for Miss USA in the summer of 2015, LIVE on NBC! The experience I had been preparing for almost my whole life was finally here. It’s a very surreal moment. When it was finally announced that the pageant would take place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I was not thrilled to be honest. It was hard to convince friends and extended family to invest in a trip to Baton Rouge in the middle of July. So I thought, that’s okay, they’ll be watching and cheering from home!

So there I was, arriving in Baton Rouge to begin the two week quest for the crown. On day one, there was so much buzz and excitement. Registration, fittings, and official portraits were underway. As I sat in the makeup chair, I looked around the room and noticed nervous and anguished faces. I knew there had been worry whether Donald Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants would affect the pageant, as he was part owner, but I refused to believe that could happen. To distract myself I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through my Instagram feed. And there it was. The press release from Donald Trump stating he was cutting ties with NBC. I must’ve read it three times. But what does this mean? I thought. Surely this doesn’t mean what I think it means.

I called my older sister, a former Miss USA. She calmly confirmed the news that NBC was in fact dropping the Miss USA telecast. It’s hard for me to continue writing at this point because I honestly lose words to say. How could a network abandon 51 women? What did we do wrong? I had a flashback of myself as a little girl watching the pageant with wonder-filled eyes. How could a network abandon hundreds of thousands of young girls? I felt saddened and hurt by NBC’s decision. But again, my vision gave me hope. Everything will be okay.

But it only got worse. Shortly after NBC’s announcement, a major sponsor pulled their hair sponsorship. I watched, traumatized, as the team packed up their hair stations and left. One by one, the celebrity panel of judges withdrew. The host backed out. The musical entertainment pulled out. Less than two weeks out from the final competition we had no music, judges, hosts, or network. What was going to happen? Somehow, in the mist of the media frenzy that had struck, I had the mental toughness to remain positive.

The moods continued to shift. The contestants with Latina or Mexican heritage were constantly being pulled for special interviews. Everyone’s stories, hardships, and backgrounds came to the forefront. Our swimsuit music changed three times.

I was moved from the front of the stage to the very back.

After about a week, it was official that Reelz would be our new network home. I’m so grateful they stepped up. However, it is still devastating that the pageant was not able to reach the audience it would have reached on basic cable. My grandparents weren’t even able to watch.

It was then announced that the new panel of judges would be comprised of former Miss USA titleholders. Awkward pause. My sister is a former Miss USA,  the judges would know who I was. Will this hurt my chances? Does this mean it’s already been decided that I won’t be in the top 15? No, I trust the process will be fair. I felt uncomfortable as the moods continued to shift away from favor.

Even with all odds against me, I knew my name would be called that night to advance into the top 15. But on the night of the telecast, as each semifinalist was announced, I listened to their hometown videos and personal stories. Uh oh, my story does not fit in with these stories. I knew instantly that I was not making the top 15. The last state was called, and it was not North Carolina.

It’s weird, I didn’t cry much. I actually didn’t feel anything. I was numb for months. Numbed by the fact that the experience you’re only allowed to have once in your lifetime, was distorted by politics. 51 innocent young women were punished for a comment by a man that has nothing to do with the pageant. Donald Trump did not suffer from NBC dropping the Miss USA telecast, I did.

Philanthropists, lawyers, researchers, students, athletes, nurses, volunteers, caretakers, immigrants, survivors, role models…these are the innocent women who were punished by one man’s comment. Why?

Shortly after Miss USA, Donald Trump sold his share of the Miss Universe Organization to IMG. Fox network became they’re new home, and the 2016 class of titleholders entered into the perfect scenario. They will appear live on Fox from the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas on June 5th. I just hope they understand how fortunate they are.

Only 50 other women will understand what I experienced. I thank God every day for our lifetime friendships and countless vent sessions.

Forgive me if I sound ungrateful, because that is far from the truth. After all, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that a group of women have the privilege of experiencing.

If you have ever felt like you’ve been cheated, overlooked, dumped on, discredited, or forgotten…I’m here to tell you that it will be okay, eventually. But first, it is okay to process and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Run it out, take a vacation, talk your best friend’s ear off, have a glass of wine or two. You do what you gotta do to come to terms with it. Just keep it legal.

We have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Hebrews 6:19

This journal entry started out as my reaction to the announcement that Miss USA 2016 will once again be broadcasted on network television.  I never anticipated to publish my feelings.  So to you, as the reader, thank you for listening to me talk through my emotions. Because no one ever asked me what it was like or how I felt, and I think that was the hardest part of all.

Man, that felt good.



Miss North Carolina USA 2015

About the Author

Julia Dalton

Julia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from High Point University and currently is a Clinical Research Associate in Pharmaceutical Research.


  1. Beautiful Julia… I have wanted to on many occasions ask you how you felt, but I didn’t want to push or make you feel like I was being nosy. I have always well…Kaleigh and I both – have always thought the world of you and your sisters and your family. She to went through a shift or change in attitude when she wasn’t crowned at South Carolina Teen USA in 2007…she was second runner-up and most photogenic as you may remember. She wanted this title so bad she wanted to go to Teen USA as it had been a lifelong dream for her also, but if you remember it too was canceled that year and wasn’t televised at the last minute either, so even if she had been crowned her dream of being on television on stage would not have come to pass. I even thought hopefully she would go back or she would try to go back to do Miss SC USA. It just never happened and I think every girl goes through something when they work really really hard and give up a year or in Kaleigh’s case about three years of their life for some thing and it doesn’t happen for them. Sadly she gave up on her dream of becoming Miss USA, but she didn’t give up on her future or career goals and she’s very happy with where she is in life…at the end of the day all of you girls who compete win lose or draw …all of you are winners and I believe better women for the experience it gives you. Pageants prepare you for so many things in life… you don’t even realize until you get out there and start interviewing for jobs working with other people. I also believe because of some of the setbacks you experience while competing or preparing to compete help you to cope in general better as you move on with life and experience life in general, especially on those days things aren’t happening for you as you believe they should be happening, because it’s a fact… in life things don’t always go our way and at the end of the day we are not in control… God is in control and somethings don’t happen because it’s his protection over us…that’s the way I like to look at it. You are a beautiful girl inside and out and you have a wonderful future ahead of you! Hold your head high you are a daughter of Christ and he loves you… he’s a good father and he will always protect you… always take care of you and never for sake you!!!🙏🏻 YOU ARE MORE!
    Mrs. Lesley

  2. Would be better off turning it into an article telling young women real life is hard- it has storms. We aren’t promised everything will always go our way. We were actually told this is a dark world. God still loves you- crown or not crown.

  3. Julia, How beautiful! I love seeing your authentic spirit and hearing your truth. Being a titleholder is such a magical and mysterious experience. I appreciate that you shined light on the truth of the moments of hope, doubt and anticipation that are so real for every contestant and the impact it had on you, personally. You’re story didn’t end how you wanted it to, but God works All things for good and God’s version of “good” is more like “Phenomenal” – I can’t wait to see how He continues to use your story to inspire others!
    Cheers to God’s version of “good”!
    xo, Alycia

  4. You are such a Rockstar! Reading this brought so many memories of my year (2011 & not without scandal) and the perspective you have post-pageant. I’m proud to say I’m a former and also sad I didn’t make top 16 my year, but you’re right, it gets easier and the drama fades a bit. I was devastated for all of you ladies last year but proud of how you never let it kill your dreams.
    You go girl!

  5. EXACTLY why I don’t understand former titleholders supporting Trump. He did this to 51 of your SISTERS, let alone all the other hate he dumps on the world with every other sentence. If he could really hang these girls, who built his business, out to dry like this, what do you think he’ll do for the American people who have nothing to offer him?? Ughhh. I’m still irrationally mad that this happened to you girls! Way to hold your head up. Love love love the closing paragraph because it’s yet another lesson I learned from pageants. xo

  6. I had to read this again. I may read it a few more times. It wasn’t hard to figure it out. Put the pieces back together. Know it was politics.
    And for some reason, the story of losing may be more important than the story of winning.
    You are such stunning young woman in every way. Speak it.
    xoxoox, cuz

  7. I’m so sorry you went through that Julia … it sounds absolutely devastating.
    Thank you for being so brave to share your emotions surrounding it and always pointing back to Jesus – He sure is the anchor of our soul! When things are out of control we can rest knowing that He is in control!

  8. Julia, I enjoyed reading your story and I was devastated too. Yes, it was very sad that everyone had to suffer. FYI, I believe it was your mom and dad that judged the LMSC Pageant in July, 2014. It was my grandaughter Taylor’s first stage pageant and she was 1st runner up. She is anxiously waiting the day she is old enough to be on Paula Miles’ SC TEEN USA’S stage!

  9. Julia,
    You won’t remember me, but I was on the golf staff at Pine Valley Country Club when you were little. I know your parents, very fine people and fun to be around. I am sorry you had to go through such a miserable circumstance.
    Please remember that you would not be the person you are had you not. Think how much you can teach young people about strength and faith. Not only in God, but yourself as well.
    Good luck to you and I hope you have a long and fruitful life. There are a great deal of lucky kids out there that will become more than they ever thought they could be because you will lead them.

  10. Thank you so much for your honesty. It’s about time we acknowledge what loss really feels like!

    I may not be famous but I care about your feelings. There are few things worse than getting close to your dream only to have it taken away because of things you can’t control.

    Your straight talk about how it feels to be cheated out of your dream is needed is this crazy world. To get so close only to have it yanked away for reasons that were never your fault, well that ain’t right. Many people answer with “Life is not fair, get used to it,” but they’re wrong. Not to say life is always fair, but there is nothing gained from getting “used to it.” The day we stop calling out unfairness is the day we start being unfair. You are better than that, and I appreciate you for it.

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