Brittany McGowan was crowned Miss Malibu 2013, and Chloe Hope Hatfield Miss Malibu Teen, Sunday night at the 8th Annual Miss Malibu USA Pageant. The pageant was held at the Malibu Golf Club, with proceeds funding Cookies for Kids With Cancer, an organization that combats cancer among children.
Proving that persistence is key, McGowan claimed the crown after finishing as a runner-up in the event for two years in a row.
“I was shocked! I was so excited,” said McGowan, a Burbank native who finished runner-up in the event in both 2010 and 2011. “I think that made it even more meaningful, and it makes me appreciate it a lot more.”
McGowan said she sought to distinguish herself from other pageant competitors in the industry by acting genuine, and striving to break stereotypes of artificiality in the pageant world.
“I want to showcase that it’s OK to just be who you are, and just be a ‘relateable’ role model for teens. That’s kind of my goal, that’s my message—just be you,” she said.
And McGowan, reflecting on the close finishes she had the past two years, urged up-and-coming pageant contestants to remain resilient amid adversity.
“If you want something, you go after it until you get it,” she said.
Hatfield, 17, of Norco, Calif., hopes to become a nurse, cites wakeboarding and driving among her hobbies, and aims to serve as a role model and give back to her community.
The pageant boasted a parade of about 70 contestants, including Pepperdine students Amanda Cockrell and Bridgette Walker, who competed for the school’s track team and holds the school record for the 400-meter dash. They first graced the runway donning bikinis and later returned in nightgowns to blaring pop music.
Model Alyssa Campanella and actor David Burtka announced the names of each teen contestant as they strutted the runway. Then the winners of last year’s Miss Malibu and Miss Teen Malibu, Brie Gabrielle and Micaela Brookman, respectively, read the names for the Miss Malibu contestants.
After the original field was cut down to the finalists, the top contestants fielded tough questions from judges ranging from how they would approach online behavior to their thoughts on plastic surgery.
Singer Haley Fletcher, who aims to raise money for music therapy, bellowed a cover jazz hit “Summertime,” before pop singer Alli Davis rocked the crowd with two dance tunes.
It was the eighth year for the pageant, founded by Pepperdine alumnus Kristen Bradford. This year, the number of contestants soared from last year, from 45 to 70.
“I think each year has kinda gotten bigger and better,” Bradford said.
Since its inception, the pageants have evolved considerably. The first pageants took place in Malibu High School Auditorium, and moved to various Malibu locations over the years. But the past few years have found it becoming a celebrity draw, and offering more opportunity for contestants who desire to land a job in the entertainment industry.
Girls hoping to enter the pageant were vetted on a diverse array of traits, such as holding career and educational goals, scoring high grades as well as aspiring to empower others.
“Just being the kind of girl that other girls can look up to,” Bradford said. “And just being a role model for young women.”