Q&A with Miss Illinois Teen USA

Andrew Analore

Victoria Davis of Thawville won this year’s Miss Teen Illinois Pageant. The 17-year-old will be heading to the University of Illinois this fall, where she’ll compete on the cheerleading team and study journalism – with a goal of someday writing for USA Today. Right now, though, she’s in Pasadena, CA, where she’s vying for Miss Teen USA.

We recently caught up with “Tori,” who answered a few questions about the pageant game, cheerleading, and her outlook on life.

Q. We’ve heard that this was your first time competing in a Miss USA event. Was it your first pageant? How did you get involved in pageants?

A.  This was my first time competing in a Miss USA event, although not my first pageant.  I had competed in a few smaller pageants during the year prior to my crowning.  From the time I was a little girl, I have always wanted to compete in pageants, although my mother was not quite so enthusiastic about the idea as I was.  About a year ago, while we were walking in the mall, she and I spotted an advertisement for a pageant that was going to be held within that mall in a mere few weeks.  After a long discussion, she finally agreed to allow my entrance.  So, my current reign began with a trip to the mall.

Q. What is your platform? What is your talent?

A. Technically, each individual titleholder does not recognize a specific charity, although, Miss Teen USA does support a charitable alliance.  Those charities include “Best Buddies”, “Do Something”, “Outside the Classroom”, “Seeds of Peace”, and “Sparrow Clubs”. The three categories of Miss Teen USA include Interview, Swimsuit, and Evening Gown.  Although there is no talent portion involved in the Miss Universe system, the talent with which I have previously competed is a gymnastics routine to the Bon Jovi song, “Shot Through the Heart.”

Q.  What does Miss Illinois Teen USA do, anyway?

A. As Miss Illinois Teen USA, I have made numerous appearances on behalf of various charities ranging from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease to Leukemia research and organizations raising funds to correct childhood deformities.  In addition, I have spoken to school children about the topics that have been presented above.

Q. What's the next step for you in the Miss Teen USA competition?

A. The next step is Miss Teen USA which will air on August 24th at 7p.m. on NBC. Wish me luck!

Q. Is competitive cheerleading as cut-throat as it appears in the movies?

A. I would most definitely have to say “yes,” and maybe even more so.  While the average “movie” team seems to be comprised of a leader or two, a few girls who don’t care, and a few that don’t understand the difference between night and day, the truth of the matter is if you don’t love and understand the sport of cheerleading and aren’t willing to sacrifice yourself every minute of every practice, your team will be in no way successful.

Q. If you had three wishes, what would they be?

A. At the moment, I’m not sure that I can answer that question, as all of my wishes have come true. I am a cheerleader for the University of Illinois, have my state title, and I am on my way to Pasadena.  Aside from the best of luck in California, I can ask for nothing more.

Q.  Where does your passion for journalism come from?

A. For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid writer, although it was not until my freshman year in high school, after being influenced by a most thought-provoking English teacher, that I truly gained my current sense of self and appreciation for written language.

Q. How would you summarize your philosophy of life?

A. My philosophy of life, again, was re-written by that high school English teacher.  I have kept my own personal views of “everything happens for a reason,” but have since adopted a slightly deeper sense of self.

Q. Miss America and other pageants haven't done particularly well in the ratings lately. Do you think they are still relevant?

A.  I think these pageants are relevant as they have ever been.  At times, society has the tendency to focus on the negative, disregarding the outstanding women participating in these events and all of the positive contributions they have made and have yet to make both in the world of pageantry and the world in general.

Q.  What advice would you give to young girls?

A. If there was only one piece of advice that I would ever convey to young children as a whole, it would be that you define who you are.  Accept no labels. Allow no one to write your description. Always be self-motivated, and you will achieve what you dream.

Q. Your bio says that you want to help kids understand that there is more to life than material possessions. Can you expound on that? Have you overcome many obstacles?

A. I absolutely believe that there is more to life than material possessions.  Material possessions alone will never make a person happy.  They may coat the surface, but the surface will always chip and, with time, reveal the unhappiness underneath.  Happiness is found in relationships with other people.  We should never dwell on what we do not possess, but be content with what we do have.

As most every person does, I have overcome many obstacles in my short life.  Although, I have realized that it has been these obstacles that have brought about success.  My own life experiences have given me the proof I need to stand by my greatest conviction, “everything happens for a reason.”

Q. Complete this sentence: "One thing people would be surprised to learn about me is...."

A.  The common misconception about me, after most people learn that I am a pageant title holder and a cheerleader, is that there is nothing worthwhile happening in my brain.  I have always believed that this was far from the truth although, after my graduation this May, and being pronounced as the Valedictorian of my graduating class, I now have proof.  Therefore, one thing people would be surprised to learn about me is that I was Valedictorian of my graduating class.