By Chandler Ramelli
What does the life of today's modern Beauty Queen look like? A lot different than you might think and leading the charge is Mrs. Raquel Riley Thomas, the new Executive Director of Mrs. DC America.
Raquel Riley Thomas, is a former Captain in the Army, a veterans activist, a full-time mother of two, pageant queen and now, the new Executive Director of Mrs. DC America. She is the living embodiment of the modern women. Armed with her military training steeped in discipline and dedication, Raquel has been on a meteoric rise in the Mrs. America organization for the past 2 years and is out to change the face of the pageant world.
Just how did this Officer go from weapons to tiaras?
Raquel was a United State Ordnance officer, specializing in demolition, bombs, large machine guns and trained in hand to hand combat when an innocent question from her then four year old daughter took Raquel's life into a completely different direction.
One day while her daughter was watching a Disney video she asked, "Mommy, why don't any of these Princesses look like me?" Raquel tried to give her daughter an answer, but fumbled for the correct words. With that one heart breaking question Raquel was on a mission. If Disney could not provide her daughter or millions of other daughters like her with a Princess that resembled them, Raquel would make them one.
A few short months later, Raquel entered the Mrs. Maryland Pageant 2010-11...and won.
Before Raquel could catch her breath, Mrs. Maryland 2010-11 was off and running to the Mrs. America Pageant 2010-11.....and placed as first runner-up.
The next week the Mrs. America organization called her and asked if she would be a celebrity judge at next year's Mrs. America pageant 2011. She accepted and was beyond thrilled when she learned that she would be only the second African American judge, the first being the incomparable Diahann Carroll.
This Beauty Queen's reign was not over yet. Shortly after completely her stint as a celebrity judge, the Mrs. America organization came calling again. This time the rights for Mrs. DC America had come up for sale and the organization thought Raquel would be the perfect fit to run the District of Columbia's pageant. Raquel accepted, started her own company, An Officer and Gentlewoman, LLC., and is now the Producer and Executive Director of Mrs. DC America.
Raquel says that there is not much of a difference in the mission of a Military Officer versus that of a philanthropic platform as a Pageant Queen representing her state and country. In the military it is our job to protect the people of this country. As Mrs. Maryland 2010-11 her mission has been to fight for the rights of Veterans that fought for our country. She muses "same message just a different platform and in a cocktail gown."
Raquel asked herself "Are you going to sit there and sign autographs or are you going to use your platform to gain people's attention so that you can create change and bring positive messages to the community?" Being a part of the Mrs. America Organization has given her the necessary platform to do just that, to create awareness and make a difference.
When asked what her pageant experience and successes mean to her, Raquel says, "I can now look in the face of other married women, who carry the world, family, careers on their backs and give them that one moment to be Queen. It is all about taking those opportunities and taking them to the furthest potential you can. I love being out there, but being behind the scenes motivating others is what I love the most about pageants. It is now in my blood, I love it! They will probably have to bury me with my sash on!"
Her daughter wanted a princess that resembled herself; Raquel gave her daughter not only a queen, but an executive queen. Now millions of children everywhere have a role model to follow, a successful Military officer, Veteran's activist, a pageant queen, an executive director of her own company, an officer and gentlewoman, LLC and a truly devoted mother.
For more information and how to apply to compete in Mrs. DC America 2012 please visit mrsdcamerica.org.