JeanAnne Roberts isn’t the typical contestant that comes to mind when you mention beauty pageants. For one thing, she’s not 25. For another, she has a husband and two adorable children. At age 55, she is the reigning Mrs. DC America.
How did your journey begin?
Because of my love of dance and modeling, I signed up for two pageants in high school. I won the crowns for Miss Mingo County and Miss Magnolia Fair. My grandmother could sew anything and made a life-sized boxing dummy and red silk boxing shorts for me for my dance routine to Eye of the Tiger.
As Miss Mingo, I was eligible to compete in the state’s Junior Miss pageant, which is connected to the Mrs. America system. This pageant was based on ‘beauty and brains’ and I did not realize what it entailed. I did not even place. It broke my heart and I closed the door to that dream when I lost, never realizing I’d have the opportunity to compete again.
What happened next?
I earned a B.A. in speech communication from Marshall University and pursued a career as a flight attendant, traveling to more than 20 countries. Then I met my husband and stayed home for 12 years with my children, Joseph, now 13 and KellyAnne, 12.
How did you come to be involved with the Mrs. America pageant?
I did some modeling throughout my 30s and at the age of 40, came in second for the ‘Face of Avon.’ The passion for modeling was still in my heart, and at 52, I signed with two New York modeling agencies and appeared in five national campaigns that year.
Locally, I was selected as a model for a fashion/beauty segment on Fox 5 TV along with Raquel Riley Thomas, an award-winning producer, pageant queen and beauty/fashion expert. She happened to own the Mrs. DC Pageant and told me that if I ran for Mrs. DC America, I could win. I thought it was insurmountable, but she encouraged me to apply anyway. When I learned the pageant cost $700, I let it go.
In the spring, I was asked to model on another fashion special and Raquel approached me again. I decided I would do it and would find sponsors. My family dentist Dr. Kevin Bunin paid half and a girlfriend Kathy Keller paid the other half. I truly believe that God saw that dream in my heart and opened the door to it. And here I am, standing here today as Mrs. DC America.
Platforms are important in the pageant system. What is yours?
My platform is mentoring young girls to become future leaders through the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. As a former Girl Scout, I have a personal connection to this organization. My daughter is following my legacy as a Girl Scout as well. I’m the troop leader. Interestingly, the Girl Scouts were founded in 1912 by Juliet Gordon Lowe at age 55—the same age I am now.
How often do you wear the crown?
Every Friday when the Girl Scouts come to my home! Normally, without COVID, I would be making public appearances. I did do a virtual Fourth of July parade and I’ve visited some embassies. Over the holidays, I was invited on a White House tour and wore my crown there. I had my photo taken under a picture of Laura Bush—a former Girl Scout.
How are you preparing for the national Mrs. America pageant?
The pageant is 50% Q&A, 25% gown and 25% bathing suit, and I have a team of people helping me. I work out two times a week with strength training, and two times with cardio training. I also do a physical assessment every six weeks. My nutritionist has given me a plan where I eat 3-4 times a day a certain amount of protein, carbs, fat and vegetables. It tells me exactly what to eat and how much. I have a walking coach, because when you go on stage it’s like a dance routine. You have to know how to be graceful and elegant, and to walk properly.
So many doors and blessings have opened for me. For example, when I won Mrs. DC America, my interview coach called me and said “I believe you have a chance to win this,” and offered to train me complimentary. When I went to buy my pageant gown at the Déjà Vu Boutique in Maryland, they sponsored me for my couture gown.
I also have to thank my sponsors: Raquel Riley Thomas Beauty and Maria Raquel Thomas Cosmetics; my dentist Dr. Uzma Ansari; my dermatologist Dr. Afsheen Ather; professional makeup artist and organic spray tan specialist Marta Bota; master stylist Artyce Dozier at Hair Meets Art; pageant photographer Rory Cox; and Fitness Central in Georgetown. Personal sponsors include life coach Beth Miller; Bellina Lambdin; Georgia Griffith; Anne Roberts; NY photographer David Kattein and his wife, makeup artist Lena Kattein; and acting coach Cheryl Rhoads.
What do you want to do as Mrs. America if you win?
I want to connect with every ambassador from every state to grow the Girl Scouts. And I want to educate young people about substance abuse—education and awareness are the two keys to helping the youth of our society. I also want to speak to women’s groups to lift women up and tell them that they can be whatever they dream. The only person stopping you is yourself.
I have been preparing for this moment since winning Mrs. DC. I’m on a mission now and I give a million percent when I have a dream and a passion, and do everything in my power to be the best I can be. I truly want to win this crown, and not just for myself. I have such a deeper purpose.
Do you have advice for others?
Don’t let anybody ever tell you you can’t do something when you have a passion and a purpose for the good of the community and the world. You are going to be a success if you just persevere. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and just go for it.
JeanAnne Roberts will compete for the title of Mrs. America in March 2021 in Las Vegas.