It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for Betty Cantrell since she was crowned Miss America. In the midst of her new obligations, she took a few minutes to field questions from the Center for Collaborative Journalism about winning the crown, how her life has changed and her plans for the future.
Here are excerpts from that interview:
Q: How will it feel to come back home to crown the new Miss Georgia?
A: I’m really excited for that and the fact that it’s at the Georgia versus Alabama game. I think that it’s going to be super cool, and I think that it’s going to have a lot of viewers, a huge audience that is going to support ... the new Miss Georgia, so I’m really, really excited. It’s such a honor.
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Q: What is your routine like now compared to your routine as a Mercer University student?
A: Much busier. ... You know, I thought I was busy then, but this is completely different. I’ll be traveling a lot. I’ll be traveling probably 20,000 miles per month, so it’ll be a lot more traveling and a lot more early mornings, and it’ll be exhausting. But I think it’ll be really awesome.
Q: How did you discover your talent for singing?
A: Well, when I was 3 years old ... my parents discovered that I could sing, but I didn’t realize it until a little later on because I would start making up little songs and performing them for my family.
I knew that I loved to sing, but I don’t think I ever knew I was good at it until everyone was like, “You need to take voice lessons. You need to do this. You need to do that.”
So, once I started taking voice lessons, I really started to believe in myself.
Q: What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss the people, and I miss the simple living.
I think Georgia has a way of life that no other state really has. Everybody is very hospitable, and the way that people live in Georgia is just different. Everybody is just so easygoing, and everybody has their routine.
Q: How have you been unwinding? If so, what do you like to do during your free time?
A: Well, my free time, although it’s very limited -- I think I’ve had two days off since I won two weeks ago -- and I just slept.
I just really tried to unwind and let it soak in that I was actually Miss America, because I hadn’t really had a chance to think about the fact that I won and how cool that is and the opportunities that will afford me.
Q: What have you enjoyed the most so far? And what do you look forward to the most as Miss America?
A: I’m really looking forward to all the award shows that I get to be at. And I’m going to get to meet so many of my idols at these award shows like the (Country Music Association awards) and the (American Music Awards). That’s going to be so cool.
I was at the Streamy Awards, which is more of like a social media award show for people who got famous through Vine, Instagram and YouTube, and that was really cool.
I’m actually going to get to meet so many celebrities that I’ve always idolized and looked up to.
And I really hope to be that type of person for your everyday Americans and the young women in our world who need a good role model to look up to, and I hope to be that for them.
Q: If you weren’t Miss America, what would you be doing with your life?
A: If I wasn’t Miss America, I’d probably be continuing my education and doing a lot of auditions to try to start my future career on Broadway.
Q: Is there any play you would want to be a part of?
A: My dream role would be Elphaba in “Wicked.”
Q: Has anyone pitched you an idea for commercials or endorsements?
A: I have some things in the works that I’m getting really excited about.
I can’t share them, but I am really excited about the opportunities that this title has given me for my career.
Q: What’s your favorite song to sing on the radio?
A: Oh gosh, I don’t know. Well, obviously, I’m a singer so I love to sing. My favorite song right now ... I love “Love Me Like You Do.”
After doing the Miss America pageant, our swimsuit song was “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony. And ever since we walked to that song, I’ve just been obsessed with it.
Q: Describe for me that moment when they called your name as the winner of Miss America.
A: After seeing that video multiple times, the expression on my face is just so accurate.
I was shocked. I really didn’t think it was going to be me. ... I was just blown away and completely thrilled to death that the judges believed in me enough to give me this title and represent an entire country and organization.
I hope that I do the job justice. It’s just an incredible feeling and so surreal and indescribable. It is a dream that thousands, if not millions of girls dream of.
I believe the statistic is that you are more likely to have a son play in the NFL than a daughter win Miss America.
Marin Guta is a student with the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University.