American Beauty: Second-generation ‘Camellia Queen’ on her way to Miss Mississippi Pageant
By Geoff Belcher
Jul 3, 2014, 19:22
Bethany Cuevas is following in her mom’s beauty queen footsteps and hopes to take that legacy a step farther next week at the Miss Mississippi Pageant.
“I have been in pageants since I was seven weeks old, on and off,” Bethany said. “I decided to compete in this pageant because I have always dreamed of stepping foot on the Miss Mississippi Pageant stage.”
Bethany and her mom, Melissa Taylor, both winning Camellia Queen pageants.
Bethany, a University of Southern Mississippi student from Long Beach, won the title of Miss Mid-South this past January, earning the right to compete for the Miss Mississippi title.
She attends the university’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and is majoring in elementary education. She expects to graduate in 2016. Bethany is the daughter of Melissa Taylor, a respected first-grade teacher at Waveland Elementary School. Taylor is a beauty queen in her own right.
“I was 13 years old when I won my first pageant,” she said, “so that’s what made me love it. I won World’s Universal Beauty (1989-90), Camellia Queen (1990) Cinderella Teen, Ms. Mississippi USA Petite, and Miss Gulf Coast.”
Bethany also won the Camellia Queen pageant, which is sponsored by the Biloxi Lion’s Club.
Taylor suffers with cancer, which makes her all the more determined to see her daughter succeed.
“In 2011, I was diagnosed with follicular carcinoma thyroid cancer,” she said. “No one wants to here those words, ‘You have cancer.’”
However, she said, “Having cancer has helped me appreciate the things I took for granted before.”
Taylor said she’s incredibly proud of Bethany’s accomplishments.
“Bethany has helped me in so many ways,” she said. “Being a single parent has been a breeze with her as a daughter.
“She pitches in whenever and however need be. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through my illness without her.”
With a total of 41 contestants in the state pageant, Cuevas says she’s “most excited about bonding with all the contestants. ... My favorite part of competing in pageants is spending time with the new people I meet because we become family.”
With her platform focused on “Volunteerism: Every hour Counts,” Cuevas selected a project close to her heart since she volunteers for multiple organizations.
In addition to her platform, Cuevas is also required to perform a talent during the Miss Mississippi competition. For next week’s pageant, she will perform a jazz dance to the song, “My Strongest Suit,” from the Broadway musical, “Aida.”
The Miss Mississippi pageant will be held July 9 – 12 in Vicksburg.