Life after the crown: Miss Tampa 2019 reflects on legacy and community
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
The stage lights beamed, the announcer called her name, and the moment she'd been dreaming about finally came.
Lauren Nielsen was crowned Miss Tampa in 2019—a title coveted by many locals and a preliminary competition to the famous Miss America pageant.
Nielsen's win seemed unbelievable, considering she hadn't grown-up dreaming of entering the world of pageantry.
“I saw an opportunity for scholarship in the newspaper, and entered just to see what would happen," Nielsen recalls. She had no background knowledge on pageants, but was a performer and actively engaged in community service—two critical components of the Miss Tampa competition.
"I did pageants for six years and actually paid my way through school because of it," Nielsen says proudly. "People don’t know that Miss America is a scholarship competition. It's one of the largest providers of scholarships for women. All funds go to some education purposes and schooling."
After being crowned and spending a year making appearances and working with several organizations, she passed the crown to the next winner and asked herself the inevitable question: What's next?
While many films show a young woman's pageant journey and typically end with the announcement of whether or not she wins the competition, in real life the end of the pageant is only the beginning.
"History state and local title holders are using the system .to prepare the pageant system to propel their careers They've gone on to do incredible things. Women like Gretchen Carlson, Vanessa Williams… there are so many people who used the crown to open doors for the success in their lives…”
"I'm currently nanny-ing, as all actors have a side jobs, but I am also in a musical called Nunsense, singing weekly for a church, co-chair of a junior league committee, and am continuing to model and do as many commercials as COVID-19 allows. My near future goals are to move to L.A. or New York and pursue performing! "
Currently Lauren works as a model and performer. While she has many talents and professional roles, for now she's happy taking each opportunity as it comes.
And she’s thankful to the competition because of the education opportunity it provided and the doors it opened to meeting people who transformed her life.
And as far as having the honor of representing the city of Tampa?
"I love that Tampa has so many people with deep roots in the community. I always had luncheons when I held the title and I was meeting people who were the first people who traveled from Cuba and started Ybor. I met people whose families were dairy farmers and had been there for decades and decades. I didn’t realize how many families have had generation after generation stay, and that’s proof in the pudding that Tampa is such a great place that families want to continue to put roots here."
You can follow Lauren's "post-crown" life on Facebook.