Thursday, February 26, 2015

5 Reasons to Join the International Pageants Family

1. Lasting Legacy. The International Pageant system has been around for nearly 30 years!

Executive Directors of the International Pageant system Mary and Mel Richardson, two of the most amazing people on the planet, committed to enriching the lives of women around the world.

2. We are Family. Even before being crowned Mrs. International 2014, from the very first interview I did I was treated like family. International Pageants is so special, we are not just a number on stage that filters through each year, but cared for and treated with respect. We are a pageant that celebrates women (which the 2015 class has been doing a wonderful job of, keep it up!)

3. Second Chances. I’m going to expand on this one a little bit with an excerpt from national bestselling author and speaker Jon Gordon “But most don’t know that Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper for a lack of ideas and his first cartoon production company went bankrupt. Everyone loves Lucy but Lucille Ball was told that she had no talent and should leave Murray Anderson’s drama school. With all of Dustin Hoffman’s success it’s hard to believe he worked as a janitor and an attendant in a mental ward because he failed in his first attempt as an actor in New York.

Can you imagine Bob Dylan getting booed off the stage at his high school talent show? What would have happened if Dr. Seuss’s actually burned the manuscript of his first book, which he wanted to do after it was rejected by 27 publishers. It’s also hard to fathom Steven Spielberg not getting accepted to UCLA film school because of average grades. And it’s easy to forget that Steve Jobs was fired from Apple at thirty years old and Oprah Winfrey was once told she wasn’t fit for television and was fired as a news anchor. *Thanks to Joe Green, author of THE ROAD TO SUCCESS IS PAVED WITH FAILURE for these great examples.

The fact is everyone fails in life but it is a gift if you don’t give up and are willing to learn, improve, and grow because of it. Failure often serves as a defining moment, a cross road on the journey of your life. It gives you a test designed to measure your courage, perseverance, commitment and dedication. Are you a pretender who gives up after a little adversity or a contender who keeps getting up after getting knocked down?

Failure provides you with a great opportunity to decide how much you really want something. Will you give up? Or will you dig deeper, commit more, work harder, learn and get better? If you know that this is what you truly want you will be willing to pay the price that greatness requires. You will be willing to fail again and again in order to succeed.”

My life would be drastically different if I had not trusted my instinct to try again for Mrs. International. If I didn’t win the second time and the opportunity existed, I would have tried a 3rd time as well. How many things in our life will give us this kind of AMAZING opportunity for such a tremendous honor? Not many, so take hold of it, seize the opportunity and Never Give Up.

4. The Official Staff. As the years have progressed, I continually grow fond of our International Pageants staff. They not only know their area of expertise, but are kind and encouraging!

5. We are Celebrated! Ok, so this ties in with the family part a wee bit, but still deserves its own number ☺ Every minute I am free to be just who I am and how God intended me to be. I don’t have to be plastic or a certain dress size, the perfect height or have the perfect hair (seriously on the hair part, thank goodness for Thomas Dunn Studios for my sake!).

If you look at the history of the International Queens, there is not a perfect mold for being the titleholder. We are all different heights, hair colors, ethnicity, backgrounds and a special individual in our own way. What we DO have in common is that each and every one of us is celebrated and encouraged in our platform. Be the unique and beautiful you inside and out, because we are International Pageants and we are family.

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


Feb 1, 1991 - 24 Years Later

It has been 24 years since the death of my father. There have been so many moments of my life that I wish He was here for. I find myself constantly asking if he would be proud of me. I have tried so hard to steer my life in a direction that would honor is memory. I was only two years old when he passed, so my memories of him are very little. But the loss is great. Growing up, I knew he wasn’t going to be there to walk me down the aisle, he wasn’t going to be able to take me to a father daughter dance, or even intimidate the first boy to ask me out on a date.

As the Hold On To Hope Bracelets say “It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.” I believe in that with my entire heart. A former Miss International actually told me that a year ago when I was discussing my feeling with her, and It really hit the mark! To this day, I still wonder how my life may have been different with him around. But, with that being said, I had a wonderful childhood filled with love and family. My love for him takes nothing away from those who were present in my life.

I am going to share ways to help children cope with the death of a loved one:

  • Use concrete terms when explaining death. Avoid terms such as "passed on" or "went to sleep" Children may not understand that these terms mean the person has "died."
  • Answer their questions about death simply and honestly. Only offer details that they can absorb. Try not to overload them with information.
  • Allow him/her to attend the funeral if he/she wants to but do not force it. Let him/her know what to expect at the funeral.
  • Give the child alternatives for using his grief positively—drawing, other creative means of expression, writing letters, reading or writing poetry, stories.
  • Make sure your child doesn't feel at fault.
  • Give the child choices in what they do or don't do the remember the deceased. Allow the child to participate in the family rituals if he/she wants to—going to the funeral or cemetery, helping plan the ceremony, picking flowers, etc.
  • Allow the child to talk about the deceased, but don’t push them to talk about their feelings.
  • Be aware that children need time to grieve and be upset. Let them know you are available to listen when they are ready to talk. Provide reassurance and validate their feelings when they express them.
  • The family's spiritual beliefs about death should be explained in simple terms. However, the child may not understand the meaning and although he/she can repeat what was said, he/she may not still not comprehend what death means.
  • Children can be fearful about death. Give them a chance to talk about their fears and listen when they express their fears.
  • Be patient. It may take them a long time to recover from their loss.
  • Expect that their grief may recur throughout their childhood or adolescence. Strong reminders, such as the anniversary of a death, a birthday, or a celebration without the loved one may reawaken grief. Be available to talk.
  • Children may even mourn the environment that existed before the death; they grieve the "changed" behavior. It can be helpful to keep to regular routines.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crown and Sash Etiquette

There is a time and a place for the pageant crown and sash! Sometimes it is obvious when you should wear them and other times it isn't. Here are some scenarios and my opinion on which of these accessories you should wear to that event.

  • When you are around kids at a school, race, or anywhere else, the crown and sash is almost always the answer! I promise you will make so many kids’ days if they see a real princess at the event!

These children loved seeing me in both my crown and sash!

Children really admire pageant titleholders!

  • Media events are another opportunity to wear both the crown and sash. If you know a camera will be present, wear both. This isn't to show off but to publicize our system.

I was ready with my crown and sash on when arriving at the airport for a media interview after being crowned Miss Teen International this summer.

  • Most charity fundraisers also call for both the crown and sash. If the attire is formal or semi-formal, it is definitely appropriate. If not, proceed with caution.

Maggi, Samantha, and I all wore our crown and sash for an event to raise funds for scholarships.

It was also okay for me to wear my crown and sash to this March of Dimes event since it was formal.

  • Community Service: When volunteering, you don’t want the spotlight to be on you but on the people you are helping. Your sash is typically appropriate. If kids are involved, bringing your crown is probably okay.

Wearing my sash to the Miracle League was acceptable, and bringing my crown worked because kids were involved.

  • A sensitive group of people can be those that have an illness or have a loved one that is sick. This can be a situation where it is awkward to go all out with the crown and sash. I would recommend wearing your sash for the full event or just a portion of it and leaving the crown at home.

It was okay for me to wear my sash for a Pancreatic Cancer event but not my crown.

  • What about things that don’t pertain to the pageant specifically? For example, my recent college visits. No, I did not walk around campus all day with my sash on. It is definitely okay to bring your sash and put it on for a photo op in some scenarios. That way you can incorporate the event into the things you are doing with your title without putting yourself in an awkward situation.

By having these types of photos on college visits, I am relating it to my title without putting myself in an uncomfortable position.

Every pageant titleholder is attending different events, so everyone’s situation is a little different. If you have an event coming up and you are questioning what to wear, feel free to comment or send me a message. It is important to consider your audience and respect them, but I do recommend wearing your crown and sash as much as possible!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tips to Engage the Media

I have received a few questions recently on how to engage with the media, and while I’m not an expert by any means, the engaging with the media is important so here are a few tips. International Queens have so many important causes to represent and bring visibility to as we also celebrate each other, besides social media, how can you get in front of a camera, on the radio, in an news paper or magazine article?

Top 5 Tips to Engage the Media:

1. Plain and simple persistence. You will get turned down and told no, and that is if you are lucky to get a response! It’s the nature of things, and not something to be taken personally, it’s just business. Keep trying different outlets or magazines.

2. Build and foster relationships after interviews. Many people in the media are really fun, don’t miss an opportunity to make friends either. They are still normal people like you and me☺

3. Have your press release ready. Your press release is kind of another version of your platform page and official application and ideally has consistent information. What would your press release look like if you were crowned Mrs. Miss or Miss Teen International 2015?

4. Ask yourself “ Am I someone I want to watch on TV or read an article about?”. This is a really valid question to think about. Suzy Bootz always kept me on track with my platform work and “my why”. What makes you marketable that the media of any kind want to engage in an interview?

5. Always be interview ready. Opportunities may come up when you least expect it, this is why it is critical to be 100% prepared ALL of the time. Crown and Sash, check. Clay Spann makeup on, check. Business card, autograph card in hand, check. The more prepared we are , the more likely interviews will happen.

Part of our goals with Soles4Souls is to bring visibility and a great way I was able to do that was American Ninja Warrior. Flashback to being in the studio with the producers of NBC for an interview.

3 Tips for looking your best on camera (as passed down to me from some really sweet show producers)

1. Solid colors look fantastic with statement jewelry, stay clear of patterns if possible

2. Appropriate attire. If the top is too low or skirt too short, it could be a major distraction to the audience and show producers, less likely for an invite back

3. Rock the crown and sash! We are International Pageants and that is something to celebrate sisters☺ Bring your platform logo laminated just in case you can share this on camera or in a picture as well.

For some additional examples of wardrobe for TV, you can check out previous Interviews here and also work with official pageant team members for styling:!media-features/c93j

Some of my favorite interviews pictured below over the last couple years. I’m very grateful all of these media engagement opportunities that came to fruition. It was really neat to do a show in another country, and then do my first interview as Mrs. International 2014!

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


The Beauty Queen Mold

I spent so many years of my life thinking that I had so fit into a stereotyped mold of a “beauty queen” I thought my hair had to be bright blonde, my body tiny thin, and a smile always plastered on my face. I kept competing and never winning. Always confused afterwards as to what I did wrong. It wasn’t until this year that I finally realized that I needed to be myself. Instead of telling the judges in interview who I thought they wanted me to be, I was 100% myself.

I told a judge I was a crazy cat lady and actually meow’d at her. I also told another judge that no matter my weight, I would never give up sweets. And for the first time in all of my pageant years, I looked a judge in the eye and told her my raw emotional feelings regarding the loss of my father and the impact it still has on my life today.

I walked out of my interview more nervous than I had ever been. I was so nervous that they wanted the perfect Barbie doll and that I should have had prepared rehearsed answers for their questions. I went back up to my hotel room and took a few deep breathes with my coaches. They smiled at the recap I gave them of my interview and told me they were proud of me for being genuine.

Being called into the Top 15!

When I was called in to top 15 onstage, I knew I had another moment to give my raw emotions onstage. And that’s exactly what I did. Of course I had a memorized 30 second speech regarding my platform. But I had no idea what question was going to come next. If there is one pet peeve of mine when watching a pageant, its girls who don’t actually answer the question and give a fake answer. I knew I wasn’t going to do that. I walked off that stage proud of myself yet again.

When I had been called in to the top 10 I knew that the judges had appreciated my realness in interview and in onstage question. Which made me more confident for the rest of the competition. After I had won, I had a judge come up to me and specifically say, you had the best answer for onstage question. My heart was so full of joy. If there is anything you can learn from me this year, I hope it is this: To be 100% unapologetically yourself. There is no cookie cutter mold for Miss International. Look at all of the former queens, all different looks, heights, weights. One thing we all have in common? We showed realness and passion for a cause. I truly believe this is a pageant and a system for every single girl because they focus so much on inner beauty and being true to yourself.

Being called into the Top 10!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Friday, February 20, 2015

Differently Abled, Not Disabled!

It was such a treat to be able to speak with a group of interns at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences! These young adults aren’t your average interns… They have disabilities that they're constantly overcoming.

I was invited to talk with them about self-esteem. One of the biggest obstacles members of our society face is a lack of self confidence. I was able to share ways for the interns to uplift themselves, not let comments from others get the best of them, how setting goals can increase esteem and more. They really opened their hearts to me and shared their passions and tasks they want to accomplish in the future. It warmed my heart!

It wouldn't be an appearance without some Clay Spann autograph cards and some photo ops! I recently got a selfie stick that I have had so much fun using at appearances, and so far everyone has loved it. Audiences seem to love taking home a signed autograph as a souvenir as well!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Platform Page Preparation

As the countdown continues to two fun filled weeks in Jacksonville for International Pageants and your preparation checklist continues, one of those items is your platform page.

The first year competing in International Pageants in 2013, with graphic design experience, I did my own page. But the reality of it was despite having that capability doesn’t mean it was done right. It all came to fruition sitting down with the judges having to take precious time in interview explaining my platform and what was accomplished as Mrs. Nebraska International 2013.

Fast forward to 2014 as Mrs. Great Plains International and Susan Botek from Botek Productions creating a beautiful platform page. Susan’s design clearly communicated my platform, incorporated the amazing Clay Spann photo which was one of my best branding tools. Thanks to Susan’s design, each judge knew what had been accomplished and what my plans were as Mrs. International 2014. I can never thank Susan enough for doing such an incredible job. If you have not contacted her yet, I highly recommend doing so, and better yet attend the trunk show in Dothan, Alabama come April so you have the opportunity to sit down with her one on one to go over your platform page… you will love her!

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


Dove Real Beauty Campaign

I was recently invited by a good friend to Highland Elementary School in Norco, California to speak about inner beauty and self-esteem sponsored by Dove.

The ladies watched a short video on self-perception and then another video on Photoshop in the media.

The ladies were then allowed to ask questions and explain to each other how the videos made them feel. Every single girl thought the women looked better before the Photoshop and her beauty was un realistic after.

I was then given the opportunity to share my story of self-discovery and how long it took me to be confident in who I am. I also spoke about the importance of inner beauty and how when your 100 years old, you may not look in a mirror and be proud, but you can look back on the difference you have made in the lives of others and be very proud. I hope I get invited back soon! These ladies were so sweet!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to React to Criticism

Let’s face it… Not everyone is going to be your biggest fan when it comes to pageantry. We all face criticism at some point or another mostly due to a lack of understanding from those that aren't involved in pageants. So how do we sway opinions and show people what the International Pageant system is REALLY about?

First, I recommend having a few tools under your belt. And by tools I mean facts and figures. Being able to tell someone that 40% of our contestants’ scores come from interview and our main focuses are community service and personal development can really change someone’s perspective on pageantry. People will be blown away when they hear about how much you have volunteered, how you’ve served as a role model, and how you are working to leave a lasting, positive change in our society!

Second, prove them wrong with your actions! It hurts when people say cruel things, but saying mean things back isn't necessarily the best option. As my mom always said, “Kill them with kindness!” Volunteering, being kind, and rising above the negativity will show them more about the heart of a queen than any comeback could. Always be queenly!

Third, know when you can have an influence or not. I can say I have drastically changed some peoples’ perspective of pageantry for the better, but others not so much. Until people want to accept what you’re doing and learn that it’s not just a beauty pageant, your efforts will be wasted. If they don’t want to change their mindset they won’t, so know when to move on and put your time into something more productive!

Fourth, find something to brings some positivity back after a hurtful blow. Turning on Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” reading some Scripture, and reminding myself why I compete in pageants is usually enough to get moving and grooving again! Don’t let the haters get the best of you. Chances are they’re jealous that it’s not them with a crown and sash representing their area.

And last, seek support from those that do care! It is very likely that some of your International Pageant sisters have experienced similar interactions with negative people. Building a strong support system with family, friends, and pageant sisters can be a key to a happy and effective reign!

I’m thankful for the Class of 2014!

And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for further information or just some encouraging words. “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off.” <3 br="">

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preparing for Mrs. International in the Final Months

Time will fly these next few months and before you know it we will be at orientation finally meeting everyone in person (which I am really looking forward to meeting ALL of you face to face!!!). From the moment you arrive to the minute someone is crowned Mrs. International 2015 (and the following week Miss Teen International 2015 and Miss International 2015), you will blink and it will be over. For one of you, the journey once you are crowned will be even quicker. 

Thorough Preparation is critical for these 3 reasons:
  • Being as effective of a queen as possible for your platform and the International Pageant system
  • Confidence building. It is amazing knowing everything that is set in place (while still being flexible to change, let’s face it, while having a plan is critical, the more critical component is being adaptable). It’s astounding how an organized checklist can clear our mind to stay focused and effective! I am a HUGE list person, a must for daily life in our world.
  • We are on the GO when in Jacksonville and rest is a must. When you show up prepared, when we do have downtime, you can rest with ease instead of doing last minute tasks. 
Here is a checklist I used both years for competing that you may find useful, but I would encourage you to make your own also, as no two queens are the same.

Here were my top 3 must have’s during competition week:

1. Clothing Rack. I drove to Jacksonville, so it was easy for me to bring it. This might not be possible for you, so explore your options ahead of time. The hotel can rent a limited number of racks and there are also stores within 20 minutes of our location that you can buy one when there. It is not critical as there is ample closet space, but for me everything had its own specific space.

2. Inspirational Items. I love having what is most important to me as reminders. Here was what my room looked like. 

3. Door Deco. Don’t forget to have fun! 

A few more pictures from the drive there and the week!

Happy Packing!!!!!!

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


Dealing with Grief: Art Expression

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all having a fabulous day! I am often asked how to specifically help children along in their grieving process. My answer is always, you can’t move them along, there is no time period for grief, it can be short or take many years. Each and every individual is different. But there are ways that you can help a child face their grief in non-threatening ways. Most children do not want to talk about their feelings out loud, so you will need to find a resource for them to channel their feelings into.

I have learned from Former Miss International 2012 that Art Therapy can be extremely helpful in expressing ones emotions. I know personally, that I like to write poetry. Children can play instruments, draw, design clothing, or even sing to express how they feel without having to directly talk about it.

These past couple months have been extremely difficult for me, I lost both of my grandmothers and a very close friend. For the first few months I was quiet about my feelings, but realizing I needed to get out of my funk, I started writing again. Writing about anything, my emotions, my cat or even just writing funny short stories. But, My writing was for me, it wasn’t for anyone else, It was a coping mechanism that helped me immensely.

Art Therapy or Expression doesn’t have to be used just from a loss, You can use it to help with a traumatic experience, accident or just to blow off some steam! As long as your feelings are being expressed in a positive healthy way, you can’t go wrong! And who knows? You might just find your new calling!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crown Care

Taking care of your crown can be more difficult than you would think! Storage, maintenance, and clipping are a few of the problems queens come across. However, this beautiful accessory shouldn't be a burden! Here are a few suggestions to keep the crown safe, sparkly, and secure!

Love this photo by Clay Spann with my state crown!

I highly recommend the use of a storage box such as a Caboodle. It is a great tool to keep your crown safe, especially when traveling. There are clear boxes as well as patterned ones and they come in lots of different materials! They can be purchased at stores such as Target, Sally, and Walmart. This is a great investment to ensure that your crown is not damaged. If something does happen to your crown, jewelers can solder it for you.

These are some of my favorite Caboodles!

Keeping the crown in place is also another struggle beauty queens face! Check out the video below to see some of my tips for securing my crown before I head out to appearances or to volunteer.

Stay tuned for a future blog about crown and sash etiquette at appearances!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hashing Out the Hashtags

You have seen it by now, but how often do you use it? Which social media platforms are best to use it on? We are talking the “#” aka Hashtag. This is important tools to help gain visibility when used appropriately, and track content around a specific audience. It’s an invitation to others to join the conversation and journey. With one click of a Hashtag, all relative material comes up. If you’re a social media novice, hashtags — those short links proceeded by the pound sign (#) — may seem confusing and unnecessary. But they are integral to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them. Plus, they can be a lot of fun. Research has shown that when #’s are used, an audience is 2x more likely to engage.

Top 5 ways Hashtags are being used on Social Media Today

A quick info graphic history on Hashtags:

Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of Hashtags:

DO use the official International Pageant #’s when the content you are posting is relevant to the pageant or your platform

DO develop one that is your own so with one click the relative information you want is showcased easily

DO use them on Instagram and this is the platform known best for its #’s

DON’T overuse them on Facebook. Facebook in the last year integrated #’s into its search capabilities, but too many hashtags on Facebook can become impersonal. I am guilty of this one sometimes since my Facebook and Instagram accounts are linked, but if time allows I edit the Facebook post to reduce hashtags

DON’T overuse the hashtags on Twitter. Although this is the originator of the #, twitter has become overrun by business and marketing ads (like Facebook) and the lest hashtags, the higher chance you will have viewers looking at your content

DO celebrate other women, that is what we are about! but…..

DON’T get over consumed with what is happening with others using similar #’s, there is a healthy way to celebrate one another without feeling deflated that we are not “enough” . This applies to more than #’s, but when we start roaming social media, it can be a brain drain.


I’m going to take a second to expand on the last “DON’T” above. Recently I heard a quote from Rick Warren, pastor of Saddle Back church and author of Purpose Driven Life. He asked the audience “What is the most prominent light in your house? For me it would be our chandelier, it is the brightest and gets the most attention with its crystal’s and it’s visibility in our house. Now what is your most significant light? Ours is my night light. It is seen by less people, is smaller and not as flashy, but it helps me from tripping at night, stubbing my toe and is used the most. By looking at it, the nightlight can seem to be the least significant, but is the most significant of all.”

If we are not careful, we can get wrapped up in social media and living our life by “likes” instead of seeing how much impact we are really making for our platform.

Is it important to be proud of being and International Pageants titleholder and to share it with the world? YES. Do we need to get wrapped up if through social media’s eyes we are not necessarily the “chandelier”. NO. If you are a nightlight, be the best nightlight you can be and have faith in the lives you are impacting. Social Media is a piece of the puzzle in our lives, not the whole masterpiece. Social Media will never validate your value, only God can do that.

Top 10 Social Media Tags to Use:

- @IntlPageants

- #MrsIntl2015 ( #MissTeenIntl2015 , #MissIntl2015)

- #MrsInternational

- #InternationalPageants or #IntlPageants

- @insertPlatformCause (insert the tag of your platform, ex mine is @Soles4Souls)

- #insertplatformcause (insert your platform’s common hashtags, ex mine is #GiveShoesGiveLove and #WearOutPoverty depending on the post)

- #Insertevent (ex- If at a AHA Heart Ball, use #HeartBall or look up event hashtags prior to attending)

- #Pageant (or variation of #Pageants

- @ or #Insertsponsorname (If you are meeting with one of the official international sponsors, share about it, celebrate them and your hard work . Ex taking pics with Clay? @ClaySpannPhoto @Competitive_Image. Reading Suzy’s book? @RealSuzyBootz . Meeting with AT and Chelsea? @TonedToWin . Booked your appointment with Dunn Studios? @TDunnStudios . These are Instagram tags, twitter may vary or of course, use the #)

- #insertlocation (engage with the audiences of the location you are at Ex : I use #LNK for Lincoln often or the state name)

Enjoy exploring the world of hashtags!

Here is an additional relevant article if want to further expand your knowledge on this topic:

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014