A record-breaking 400-plus women are set to compete for the Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA 2012 titles. Two years ago, Nicole Johnson won this prestigious competition, set out on a journey to reestablish the positive image for the state of California as Miss California USA 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. In this exclusive interview Nicole shares her advice on how to stand out in a sea of contestants, what it was like to advocate for NoH8 and making the most of the new year.
Pageant Professors: When did you start competing in pageants?
Nicole Johnson: I started competing in pageants at the age of 18.
Pageant Professors: We loved your winning red gown, what do you look for when shopping for your pageant wardrobe?
NJ: This is a very funny question for me. I loved my red gown too, but that particular year we were only given the choice of a Tony Bowls gown and it was the last one available. And funny enough even when I went to pick my Sherri Hill gown I competed at Miss USA in I found it literally 3 days prior to leaving for Las Vegas. However, with everything else I was in search of I usually would go with what made me feel confident, sexy and poised.
Pageant Professors: We know that you trained with Jamo Nezzar to prepare for Miss USA 2010, what were your favorite and most effective moves/workouts to get your body swimsuit competition ready?
NJ: Aaahh Jamo, I love him! He is such an amazing trainer and was constantly changing my workouts so that I would never get bored. But my warm-up was constant everyday and that included stretching, glute bridge and balance ball back and shoulder stretch. I still do these today!
The other things I did, like lunges and passing a weighted ball back and forth during sit-ups, were favorites too!
Pageant Professors: What is your favorite pageant memory?
NJ: Being crowned Miss California USA!
Pageant Professors: Peter Young started designing the California USA crowns during your reign in 2010, tell us about your experience working with him and advocating for NoH8!
NJ: Peter Young and his crowns are such a special part of being crowned as a California USA title holder. In 2009 I was blessed to be crowned with the first crown ever designed for Miss California USA.
Peter is such a talented and gifted person and I am so incredibly honored to have him as a friend. During my reign we worked together on the No H8! movement which advocates for caring about people as individuals and not about who they chose to marry. About a month before I passed my crown to Alyssa, Peter and Emma became involved with the Love is Louder movement and had the ability to launch the Miss CA Teen USA crown to represent it. I think all of his devotion and work toward Love is Louder shows how much of an amazing person Peter is. I helped in the initial phases of the teen crown design and making sure a heart and love was at the center of the crown, like it is in the Miss crown, were very important aspects to its design.
Pageant Professors: There are hundreds of contestants competing in California this year, what is your advice for standing out from the crowd and being remembered by the judges?
NJ: I love that there are so many girls competing! This always gives me goosebumps when I think about it! My advice to the contestants (and it is the same advice I give year after year) is to be true to who you are! Do NOT try to be the girl next to you or the girl across the room. BE YOURSELF!!
Pageant Professors: Are there any titleholders you look up to?
NJ: Tamiko Nash, I think she is the epitome of class and beauty.
Pageant Professors: Are you ever mistaken for Nicole Johnson, former Miss America?
NJ: No, but my friends always say when her commercials come on and they hear “Hi, I am Nicole Johnson” they look up instantly and are confused.
Pageant Professors: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from competing in pageants?
NJ: The most important lesson I have learned from competing in pageants is to love yourself first and know that your beauty exudes from what’s inside.
Pageant Professors: 2012 is right around the corner, what would you like to accomplish in the new year?
NJ: I cannot believe another year has passed so quickly! I recently moved back to the state of California and am very excited to announce I will be working on Nicole Michele Johnson, a consulting company. Also I am helping my mom with her new project and as soon as she gives me the ok I will let everyone know in the industry what she’s doing!
Pageant Professors: Anything else you want to add?
NJ: Thank you Pageant Professors for taking your time to interview me! Good luck to all those competing at the state level over the next few weeks and congratulations to all the current state title holders! Make the most of your reign and know you are the only state title holder for 2012!