What Are You Like? Miss America Mallory Hagan
A native of Opelika, Alabama, Mallory Hagan moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2008, at the age of 19, with $1,000 and big ambitions. While studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she won a succession of beauty pageants at the city and state level: she was Miss Brooklyn 2010, Miss Manhattan 2011, Miss New York City 2012 and Miss New York 2012. On January 12, she was crowned Miss America 2013 – the first-ever Miss Brooklyn to win the title. During the competition, she tap danced to James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” and won the swimsuit portion of the evening.
Hagan proved not only cool but also eloquent under pressure when Good Morning America weatherman Sam Champion asked if, in light of the Newtown, CT tragedy, she supported the idea of armed guards in schools. “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence,” Hagan replied. “I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways we can use them properly. We can lock them up, we can have gun safety classes, we can have a longer waiting period.”
Her mother and father, Mandy Moore and Phil Hagan, attended her crowning ceremony, along with 32 family members and friends from Alabama. Mallory’s mission for the months ahead is to promote awareness of child sexual abuse and support various education initiatives.
What went through your mind when you were announced as Miss America 2013?
I was completely shocked and overwhelmed. I knew that nothing in my life would ever be the same, and that is a lot to take in.
Three months later, how do you feel about having won the title?
I feel great! I have had so many cool opportunities and have been given the chance to impact lives all over the country. I genuinely feel like I have the most amazing job.
What do you hope to achieve over the course of the year?
I hope to bring more awareness to Child Sexual Abuse. Last week I had the opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and speak with several Congressmen about the recently removed federal funding for the Child Sexual Abuse Act, and I hope to continue to impact lawmakers and politicians to keep them focused on preventing child abuse. Additionally, I will continue to promote STEM education and Children’s Miracle Network.
When you were competing for the pageant titles, how did you prepare?
It’s a day in and day out process. Almost everything I did was in preparation for Miss New York and Miss America. It’s a 24/7 job to be a part of the Miss America Organization and that is what I love about being involved.
Do you identify more with Alabama or New York?
I definitely identify more with New York. I enjoy the fast-paced atmosphere, the ever-changing scenery and the many cultures that call it home. There’s just something electric that you can’t find anywhere else.
What do you know about your Irish heritage?
My great-great-great-grandfather Aaron Hagan and his son, James Frederick Hagan, are buried in an Irish clan cemetery in Georgia. Unfortunately, no one has been able to trace their voyage from Ireland to the U.S.
Who is your hero?
My parents are my heroes. They both had many odds stacked against them and they managed to be the most incredible, loving, dedicated parents in the world.
Best advice ever received?
To whom much is given, much is expected.
What was your first job?
If we discount babysitting for the summers, my first job (with a real paycheck) was at the concession stand the Opelika Rec Center when I was 14.
Do you strike up conversations on long plane journeys?
Absolutely not! I have this incredibly ridiculous travel pillow that actually goes over my head. I slide it on and doze off into an in-air coma.
What is on your bedside table?
Currently? My Amway iPad, a lamp, a hotel telephone, a “Nutella and Go” wrapper and a bottle of water.
Your favorite quality in friends?
Ambition. All of my friends are people who dream big and aspire for more in life. None of my friends are complacent.
Your greatest passion?
My greatest passion, right now, is my job. Only 91 other women are lucky enough to have been in this position and I do my best to remember that with every day that comes and goes. Being Miss America is something I dreamt about as a little girl…it is my greatest passion.
Favorite country you’ve visited?
Zimbabwe. I had the opportunity to visit Victoria Falls and then lead an empowerment conference with the students of Chimukopa Elementary School outside of Harare.
Country you would most like to visit?
Italy! I have heard it’s just beautiful and the food is to die for.
Best opening line in a book or piece of music?
“Dearly beloved… we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…” [The opening line of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”]
Movie you will watch again and again?
Your favorite place?
The Brooklyn Bridge. I swear it’s magical.
A baby’s laugh… I always wonder what they are thinking.
Lilies or fresh-cut grass.
Everything that comes with Thanksgiving – turkey, dressing, creamed corn, broccoli casserole, greenbean casserole, ham, deviled eggs… the list goes on!
Sweet tea. My Southern roots haven’t gotten too far away from me.
What event changed you the most?
My best friend, Marlena, passed away when I was 15 years old. Losing a friend at a young age forces you to explore emotions and face life in a whole new way.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
Narcissism – it’s the absolutely worst trait any person can have.
I’m a procrastinator. It seems as though growing up if I accomplished a task before the due date, I never made as good of a grade as I did if I completed it in the knick of time. Talk about being rewarded for less-than-desirable behavior!
What is your motto?
Be Kind. Be Courageous. Be You.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing, what would you do?
Completing my degree in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing at The Fashion Institute of Technology.