She may be Miss Oregon USA, but 26-year-old Anna Prosser is so much more than a lovely young woman with a tiara and a sash.
The Portland native is also one of the key organizers of Beauty and the Beats, a snow and surf fashion show and benefit concert. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at the T and A Event Center, 300 N.E. Multnomah St. Musical performances include SPOREGANIC; Cyclops Collective, featuring D.J. M.O.M.; D.J. Y.N.A.; and Rare Monk.
Prosser, a 2003 graduate of Cleveland High who earned a degree in speech communication and international studies with a minor in Spanish in 2007 from Oregon State, runs a small business as a communication consultant. She is also the director of campus recruiting for Northwest Mutual Portland, and has worked as a lifeguard.
Her dream job would be to work as a performing artist selected to be a goodwill ambassador for an organization like the United Nations. During a conversation, Prosser shared other thoughts with the Tribune.
Tribune: How did Beauty and the Beats come about?
Prosser: I contacted (co-organizer) Jessy Burris a few months ago to ask her if she would be interested in being a performer in a very small cafe variety show I was looking to put together, and she loved the idea so much she blew it out of the water.Jessy told me she is doing this as a personal motivation to mentally and physically overcome a horrible car injury she suffered recently.
Tribune: Who benefits from the concert?
Prosser: A third of the ticket sales support our local musicians; a third comes to me as I prepare for the Miss USA pageant on June 19 in Las Vegas; and the remaining third goes to cover show expenses and to Operation Homefront, which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded soldiers. One hundred percent of the raffle money goes to Operation Homefront, as well.
Tribune: Who are your sponsors for this event?
Prosser: Trebol Mexican Restaurant is our gracious sponsor, fueling our amazing staff of volunteers, models and musicians who are making this show possible.
Tribune: Which local designers will be featured in the fashion show? Will you model?
Prosser: Local designers are represented by Exit Real World founder Missy Samiee; Sun Jazz Designs and Candy Lagoon founder Jessica E.Burris; FlyingPandaGirl founder Lexy Burris and architectural ambiance designer Renaissance Raven, Michael Edward Bowles. Also included on the runway is Urban Outfitters. I will model a section and emcee the fashion show; other models will include several former Miss Oregon America contestants.
Tribune: You have competed in both the Miss Oregon America pageant and the Miss Oregon USA pageant - what is the difference?
Prosser: Simply, there is no talent competition in the Miss USA system.On a more analytical level, Miss Oregon USA could be described simplistically as a spokesmodel audition, where Miss Oregon America may be called a scholarship program. Notably, Miss USA is a business owned by Donald Trump, and Miss America is a nonprofit.
Tribune: How did you feel when your name was called as the winner?
Prosser: Overwhelmingly, peacefully elated and awed. In the weeks before the pageant, I felt some negativity, some doubt in my ability to perform. But for some reason, the same phrase kept coming up in my life: 'From those to whom much is given, much is expected' (from Luke 12:48). It was on Facebook, it was in the sci-fi novel I was reading, and when in her farewell speech, the outgoing Miss Oregon USA Kate Paul said that the best message she received, in the midst of all the congratulations after her crowning was, of course, 'From those to whom much is given, much is expected.' [At that point] I started to know there was something big in store for me.
Tribune: What appearances have you been making as Miss Oregon USA?
Prosser: My favorite appearances are always the ones that help me make a positive impact on my community.I have been working closely in partnership with Operation Homefront, and am beginning to develop a relationship with Habitat for Humanity as well.Recently, I've been visiting middle and high schools to speak to students, usually about topics like respecting oneself and making good decisions.
Tribune: What motivated you to participate in the Miss Oregon USA pageant?
Prosser: You could say it was a business decision, growing my experience and exposure in the field of public address, you could say it was another fun way for a performer to be in a show, to meet lots of new friends, or even that I just wanted one more chance at a state title. But I guess, like so many of the greatest decisions in my life, I just felt led to be there.I didn't know why, I didn't expect to win, and it may sound crazy, but I just knew somehow that it was part of my plan to compete in Miss Oregon USA.I can't wait to see where the journey ultimately takes me.
Tribune: Do pageants focus too much on a woman's body?
Prosser: Michael Phelps' body is uniquely proportioned to be exceptional at swimming; Michael Jordan's, for basketball.At its most fit, my body happens to be uniquely proportioned to be aesthetically pleasing.As an aspiring performing artist, communication specialist and former shy girl, I choose to utilize that unique body as best I can through pageantry, because it's moving me toward my goals.For me, this subjective competition has nothing to do with my self worth as it is defined by judges, but only as it is defined by me, as I accomplish my own lofty goals.I never go into a pageant with the goal of winning a crown, but with the goal of celebrating the absolute best all-around me possible.
Tribune: What do you say to those who think that pageants exploit women?
Prosser: I honestly have never yet heard a pageant contestant say that she felt exploited.I think that usually is an impression held by people who may not be too familiar with the incredible opportunities for advancement that are available to a titleholder.I'd encourage any of these people to, with an open mind, sit down and chat with a contestant, a director, or a titleholder, just like I did, when I was one of them.