Cassandra Meyer, First Runner-Up to Tyler Willis at Miss Texas USA, and former Miss San Antonio USA as interviewed with SanFranGuy for the Texas Beauty Shop. This is an exclusive interview for http://www.voy.com/210461/The information in this interview is solely owned by this board and may not be copied elsewhere without the permission of myself (SanFranGuy) or Cassandra Meyer. Credits will also be noted where necessary.
First of all, congratulations on your new marriage, even if I wanted to see you compete for Miss Texas USA this year! Thank you!
How did you first come to love pageants? Did you compete in any pageants as a teen or little girl? If so, what titles did you win? I have always enjoyed pageantry. Although I never competed as a young child or teen, I vividly remember watching pageants on television with my mom. I always hoped to be in a pageant but never gave it much thought until college. I was surfing the Internet one day and came across the Miss Texas USA website. I filled out the application (not really knowing what I was filling out) and before I knew it, I was visiting with the Brazos Valley directors at A&M. I was told the San Antonio pageant had already happened for that year, so I was able to go at-large as Miss Brazos Valley USA. I entered my very first pageant, Miss Texas USA 2002 that summer and loved it! I had no idea how much was involved in a pageant. Simply thinking, I thought I would grab my old prom dress from the year before and go! Thankfully, my directors stopped that idea. I had a team of wonderful, committed ladies that helped me. I owe my start in pageantry to them. In 2003, I began competing in my hometown at the Miss San Antonio USA pageant where I met another group of wonderful people dedicated to helping women achieve their dreams. I feel privileged to have work with the best in the industry from College Station, to Houston and to San Antonio. I took advice from each person I met. I believe that helped me become well-rounded as a contestant.
Why did you choose the USA system over Miss America? I always enjoyed watching both pageant systems on television, but felt I was a better fit for Miss USA. I played the piano for about five years when I was younger, however I believed my talents were not up to par for Miss America.
Now, tell me what it was like to be among the final two at Miss Texas? Were you nervous? (Duh!) Did you expect to go so far? It was amazing to be one of the last two contestants standing at such a large and prestigious pageant as Miss Texas USA. Every girl entering the pageant hopes to win, but realistically, I had hoped to make it past the swimsuit competition. That was my main goal that year. When I made the top five I was THRILLED! Live television happens very fast, and the next thing I knew, Dan O'Rourke was asking me about being an Aggie, and my relation to Calvin Coolidge. Then, it was down to two! I was elated and overcome by it all. It was a neat feeling to know all eyes were on us which made the moment even more suspenseful.
How was Tyler Willis? She is a lovely, sweet woman and we have stayed in touch over the years. Although I wanted to be Miss Texas USA, I was genuinely happy for her and thought she would do a good job. (And she did!)
How nerve wracking is it to compete? What goes through your head as each girl is called into the top 20, the top 10, the top 5? It is very nerve wracking waiting to hear the announcement of each cut. The year I was first runner-up, I was the last to be called in each category. I always breathed a sigh of relief every time, but I honestly felt bad for my family and friends watching. I think it was more painful for them! (Jokes) As the announcements are being made, I would always keep listening for my name and/or title. I never realized who had made the top 20,10, 5, until we exited backstage between commercial breaks. I think it is important to stay focused on your performance.
What was your most embarrassing experience in competing? Thankfully, nothing too embarrassing happened to me on-stage. My most embarrassing moment related to pageants was my very first appearance as Miss San Antonio USA. I was with Miss San Antonio Teen USA and our appearance coordinator at San Antonio's Oyster Bake. When we arrived, I went into a restroom to pin my crown to my head (This was my first time wearing the crown since that night at the pageant). I was armed with bobbie pins and all sorts of hair clips. I finally got the crown attached to my head, walked out of the building and down a flight of stairs into the mingling crowd outside. In front of everyone, the expander in my crown slides, and the crown falls from my head to around my neck. Everyone was staring and started laughing!
What goes into your preparation for the title? How was your fitness conceived? How do you choose a gown, hair, make-up, earrings and such? Every year I decided to compete at Miss Texas USA, I gave it my all. I always took advantage of what my directors, sponsors and coaches had to offer. They all supported me and I thank them very much for that. To maintain physical fitness, I made sure to workout and stay on a consistent schedule. For gown, I would take my mom with me to the store. She has an amazing sense of style and I value her opinion. I always chose gowns that I believed were classic and elegant. My belief was to find a gown that I loved and the rest (hair, make-up, etc.) would fall into place.
Which phase of the competition is the hardest for you? Which was the easiest, and why? The swimsuit competition is always hardest for me. There is something about being in high heels and a bathing suit that is challenging. Once I got out there and did it, I always wanted to go back out and do it again and again. When I won the Everything But Water swimsuit award at Miss Texas USA 2006, that was an accomplishment for me. I don't know if any part of the pageant comes easy, but I do enjoy the interview competition. I earned a Master of Arts in Communications so I enjoy speaking in-front of large audiences. I'm also very passionate about my causes.
After coming so close to the title, how was it preparing over again for Miss Texas USA? Was it a letdown? Did it make things more difficult? It was hard mentally coming back to Miss Texas USA the year after I was first runner-up. I had to wipe the slate clean in my head and remind myself that it was a new year, new pageant, new judges. I had a list of things I wanted to improve on such as becoming stronger physically, fine tuning hair/make-up techniques, modeling, and gown selection. I felt I achieved them. Overall, being first runner-up made me work harder than I ever had before. At Miss Texas USA 2006, I was thrilled to win the swimsuit award and happy with another top five placement because it showed consistency in my performance. However, it was disappointing to place 3rd runner-up when I felt I was at my best.
What were the other girls like in the competition? I hear that there are always a few girls who are catty and mean-spirited. Did you experience any of this? Most of the contestants were nice and I am still friends with several today. I personally never had any bad experiences at Miss Texas USA. Often, you could catch a girl giving another girl a jealous look, but that was about the extent of it. One time, I had a contestant come up behind me and run her fingers through my hair. She asked if I had hair extensions, and I told her I did not. I found it funny that she had to check it out on her own. I did hear once that a girl had her swimsuit stolen on pre-liminary night. Another contestant was kind of enough to let her borrow her swimsuit. Believe it or not, most of the contestants are nice ladies.
Who did you enjoy the most among the competitors? That's hard to say. I have met a lot of really nice, genuine girls. I remember my first year at Miss Texas, I didn't bring another outfit to change into after rehearsing in our opening number dresses. A girl from Denton had brought an extra dress and let me borrow it for the day. I will always remember that. Tyler Willis was also very sweet. I had the opportunity to be around her a lot the year she won. That made it all the better when it came down to the two of us that night.
What is it like walking in heels in swim suit and down staircases? Can you really prepare for something like that? It is tricky! I always made sure to buy shoes that I knew I could walk in. When you enter Miss Texas USA, always be prepared to walk down staircases on stage. As for walking in high heels during swimsuit, the idea is absurd, but I love the result you get wearing heels. They make your calf muscles pop even more! My advice is to practice in your shoes the moment you receive them, and put gripper pads on the bottom of your shoes. They help immensely! (I guess Miss USA forgot hers?!)
What are your highlights in competing? Which year did you feel was your best performance and why? Was is due to placement, preparation, or just an overall feeling? I enjoyed every year I competed at Miss Texas USA. Let's see....I enjoyed Miss Texas USA '02 because I was selected for the dress rehearsal. Since I was not selected for the top 12 on finals, I had the chance to see what it was like to be in the competition. It was great! My family still laughs about that pageant, because my dad got more air-time that I did. The camera pans right to him after we finish the opening number (laughs). I didn't compete at Miss Texas USA '03. I took a year off to focus on school, save up money and come back ready to win! I placed in the top 16 at Miss Texas USA '04 as Miss Alamo City USA which was exciting (also my favorite opening number routine. I was on the go-go pad with Christie Woods that year). Miss Texas USA '05 was the year I was first runner-up. I loved that year because of my placement. I felt my best year was Miss Texas USA '06 when I competed as Miss South Central Texas. Although I went down in placement from the previous year, I felt I had improved. Last year, I also felt improvement from the previous year, but sadly only made the semi-finals. That was difficult after putting in so much time and commitment. It made me realize it was time to end my journey at Miss Texas USA.
Now, are you planning on doing anything else in pageantry now that you are no longer competing? How has competing at Miss Texas USA carried over in other areas of your life, if any? I believe their will always be a piece of pageantry in everything that I do, even if I never compete again. I must say that pageants helped me transform from a shy teenager into a confident, strong woman. The skills I learned throughout the whole process help me everyday. I'm not planning to compete in a Mrs. pageant anytime soon. I need to practice being a good wife first! I think it would be fun to be a pageant consultant.
I hear you are becoming an actress. How is that coming along. What kind of work would you like to do in this field? Yes! I'm pursuing television work in southern California. It is a blast and I am enjoying every moment. My goal is to host or star in a national show someday. And, who would you most like to work with? In broadcasting, I would love to work with Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.
How do you feel about Tara-gate? Do you see a lot of this behavior in other contestants? Unfortunately, their are some girls that do behave like Tara outside of the pageant. I wish the judges could see that during interview. It is a shame because it hurts the reputation of pageants.
Do you believe that Tara Conner deserved a second chance? No. Their were 50 other contestants that wanted her title. I can only hope that she learned something from the whole experience and will grow from it.
You know, I always say that Miss Texas USA is Miss USA, because the quality of contestants could win other state titles in nearly most states. Did you ever consider competing in another state system? That is nice of you to say, and I agree. Miss Texas USA is very competitive. In the back of my mind, the idea was there to go to another state, just because I wanted the opportunity to compete at Miss USA (and win!). However, I am a true Texan and could not imagine representing any other state.
Finally, you will always be a legend in Miss Texas USA. Are you happy with your experiences? And, are you happy in your life now? Thank you. Yes, I am very happy with my pageant experiences. I wish I could have been Miss Texas USA, because that was a dream of mine. Being a titleholder has more impact to a crowd when speaking on a cause than just the average person. I wanted to use the title to stop drinking and driving and promote breast cancer awareness. These causes will always be dear to my heart. However, the skills I learned, and the friendships I made will last a lifetime. For that, I am grateful for the five years I put into the system. Yes, I am happy with my life now. I married my high school sweetheart in November 2006 after being together almost seven years. We have a great life together in California and I am excited about my career.
And advice you would like to impart on girls competing this year? And will you be able to come to the pageant? I wish everyone the best of luck at Miss Texas USA! Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the pageant, but my family said they would tape and mail it to me. My advice to the contestants before they leave: keep working out, get plenty of rest, find a gown you love, (and shoes you can walk in), read your contestant handbook, and take advantage of any training you can - whether it be from your directors or coaches. Once you arrive enjoy every moment! Be positive, confident and have a great time!
Any final thoughts you would like to add? I want to thank everyone for their support. Now that I know about this message board, I will try to visit as much as I can. Good luck to all of this year's contestants and to our new Miss Texas USA! Make us proud at Miss USA! Thanks Cassandra for taking the time out to answer our questions. You are one class act! You are welcome and thank you!
SanFranGuy would like to credit Meemaw for the format of the questions.Cassandra graciously shared these photos from her personal collection for this interview. Please do not reproduce them without permission from her.