WILLIAMSBURG — Macey Cleary, reigning Miss Williamsburg, will compete for the title of Miss All-American Junior Teen during the week-long National American Miss (NAM) pageant in Orlando, Florida next week.
Cleary just began taking part in pageants this summer. After being nominated as a contestant for an open call at National American Miss, the Cleary family decided to let Macey try her hand in the pageant world. In her first competition, Macey placed in the top five and was crowned Miss Williamsburg.
“I originally competed for the title of Miss Virginia, where there were about 300 girls that competed. I was selected for the top nominees, which is the top five. The Miss Virginia title went to the number one in the top five. The rest of us are City Queens and because we were the representatives of our home, I earned the title of Miss Williamsburg,” Cleary explained.
A freshman at Jamestown High School, Cleary balances school with volunteer opportunities. She is a member of the Key Club, a volunteer at Dream Catchers Therapeutic Riding Center, competes as a member of the debate team, referees volleyball and more.
“I didn’t have my hopes too high up for the original competition, being that this was my first go-round at pageants. As I was standing on that stage, they called my number and my name, and it was a big shock. So many of these girls compete in pageants for such a long time and so when you go in for the very first time, you don’t really think you’ll place,” Cleary said.
Cleary will be leaving for the competition on Nov. 17 right after the bell rings at the end of the school day. She will compete in the three main categories: formal wear, personal introduction, and interview. Cleary also won a spot to compete in the optional acting competition.
“I’m nervous, but I’m really excited at the same time. The nervous component is that there are going to be so many people there and I’m competing in a national pageant. That still hasn’t completely processed through my brain yet. I’m excited at the same time because I love doing things that include new opportunities and traveling so this week-long pageant will be really exciting,” Cleary said.
Aiming to make an impact, Cleary is using her platform as Miss Williamsburg to shed light on a project she created: Mission First Night.
“I’ve lived in many different states and my family has done foster care in all of the states that we’ve lived in. The one thing that I’ve noticed with going into foster care is that these kids will go in at 11 at night, they come into houses with absolutely nothing. I created Mission First Night to collect and donate necessary hygiene products to foster kids so that when they do arrive at a new home, they don’t have to ask a stranger and be embarrassed about their needs,” Cleary said.
While she has her sights set on the national title, Cleary also has hopes of winning the Miss Personality award.
“All of the girls at the competition will get to vote one girl who they liked the best. One thing that I was really proud of at my last pageant was that I won the Miss Personality title. Back in the 90s, it was called Miss Congeniality. Winning that title meant everything to me. I won not just based on my strategies but because of the way that I interacted with all the other girls in the pageant in a positive way,” Cleary said.
Thanks to participating in pageants, Cleary has learned and practiced skills such as public speaking, leadership and more.
Cleary encourages anyone to give pageants a try. At the age of 14, she is hopeful to inspire the next generation of pageant girls.
“You have to realize your own self worth before putting emphasis on what others think of you. These people that you are competing against are really just friends, not opponents. If you really go into a pageant with the idea that these girls are your family, you will go way farther. I really try to make everyone feel like family,” Cleary said.
Those interested in following Cleary during the pageant week can access her pageant Instagram. Cleary plans to post short behind-the-scenes clips during pageant rehearsals and will keep followers up to date on her progress during the pageant. For more information on the National American Miss pageants, visit powerhouseinternationals.com/nam.