Brenna Mader thought she was done with the pageant circuit.
After the Belmont alumna and former Miss Teen Wyoming USA placed in the top 15 and as third runner up in the Miss Tennessee USA in 2009 and 2010, Mader was “pretty sure she was never going to do that again.”
When one of her best friends won the Miss Tennessee title last year though, the freelance producer and aspiring television host saw some potential in giving the statewide pageant one last shot.
“I thought to myself ‘You know what? You could use that to work toward my dream job,’” she said. “I could seriously use this to meet people and promote myself.”
Self-promotion, however, wasn’t on Mader’s mind when she won the event and was crowned Miss Tennessee USA 2013 last Sunday.
“I was freaking out,” she said. “I cried. I actually did a little dance afterwards.”
Nearly a week later, Mader said her victory still hasn’t sunken in yet. She left Tennessee the day after the pageant for work and is still getting used to the title.
After spending years preparing and competing in pageants, the years she stepped away from it allowed her to put a different, more professional focus on the competition
“This time I wasn’t quite so intense, and I think that showed,” she said. “In order to do well, you have to have good mental toughness.”
Her former advisor at Belmont, Media Studies department chair Thom Storey, was surprised when he heard Mader won the statewide title at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville last week.
“When I think of Brenna, a beauty pageant contestant isn’t the first thing that comes to mind,” Storey said. [It’s] her professionalism and all the work I’ve seen her do, whether it be from her internship supervisor or through her colleagues.”
Mader will represent Tennessee in the 2013 Miss USA pageant later this summer. If she wins, she would be the second Belmont alumna to take the national title after Rachel Smith won in 2007. Tennesseans in the competition have also placed for seven straight years.
“Obviously, I want to keep that streak going, but I’m in the best hands [for the national pageant],” she said.