Celebrities Who Were Pageant Winners
Beauty pageants have contributed to the career paths of many celebrities, from models and actresses to singers and TV personalities.
Even if they didn’t end up competing for the crown of Miss Universe, these celebrity beauty pageant winners definitely benefited from the exposure.
Discover a few A-lister beauty queens that managed to use their crowns as a stepping point towards much more.
The Louisiana native was a very talented child and she used her vocal abilities as her talent in more than one local pageant.
While Britney didn’t win any important crowns, the competitions helped her land a talent agent that advises her to focus on her singing.
One of the most famous celebrity beauty pageant winners, Halle Berry started as a fashion model and beauty queen before pursuing acting. Berry won Miss Teen All American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA in 1986. She continued to enter beauty contests in 1986, she was as the 1st runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant, and was the first African-American Miss World entrant in 1986, coming in 6th place.
Kathie Lee Gifford
Winner of the Junior Miss Maryland pageant in 1970, Kathie Lee Gifford was also part of a folk group in high school, and music helped her in the beginning of her TV career. The “Today” co-host also met singer Anita Bryant at a beauty pageant and secured a scholarship with her help.
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Few celebrity beauty pageant winners get to win a crown at the age of 8, but Demi Lovato was the winner of the Texas State Cinderella Miniature Miss in 2000. Lovato’s big break came two years later, when she secured a recurring role in the PBS show “Barney & Friends” alongside Selena Gomez.
At the age of 17, Oprah Winfrey took her first step in showbiz as the winner of the Miss Black Tennessee in 1971. Her win gave her an important opportunity, as she was hired as a part-time news anchor at WVOL, the local radio station targeted to African-Americans. A few years later, she became the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV.
One of the celebrity beauty pageant winners who turned her local victory into an opportunity to pursue a career in showbiz, Eva Longoria won the Miss Corpus Christi crown in 1998. The actress stayed in Texas until she graduated from college before entering a L.A. talent contest and moving to California.
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After winning the titles of Miss Syracuse and Miss New York in 1983, Vanessa Williams entered more beauty pageants and became the first African American to win the title of Miss America in 1983. She didn’t hold the crown for the full year, because a scandal caused by unauthorized nude photos forced her to resign. Luckily, she managed to turn use her early success to start a singing and acting career.
The singer might have joined the list celebrity beauty pageant winners, but she only entered two beauty contests as a kid. Coming in second place at both Arizona competitions, she didn’t go further, but joked on her official site that she’d like to compete again: “Okay, maybe there’s an age restriction. That’s fine, I’ll just become a pageant mom.”
Winner of the Miss Crawford County pageant in 1975, Sharon Stone went on to compete in Miss Pennsylvania, but didn’t get a second crown. Following her initial success, she moved to New York where she was signed by Ford Models, and had success as a model before transitioning to acting.
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The “Xena, Warrior Princess” star has pursued many career choices, including singing, but her big break came in 1989, when she was crowned Mrs. New Zealand and joined the list of celebrity beauty pageant winners.
Ranked by Forbes Magazine as among “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2020, Diane Sawyer started out as the winner of America’s Junior Miss Pageant in 1963. Keeping the title for three years helped her transition to a broadcasting career.
One of the biggest supermodels of the ‘90s, Linda Evangelista is definitely one of the most successful celebrity beauty pageant winners. She’s been featured on the covers of more than 600 magazines, and her big break was the 1978 Miss Teen Niagara contest.