• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Miss Falling Springs meets Miss America

Last week in New York City, Jaidah Spaulding fulfilled a long-time dream - on national TV. In March, the 15-year-old was named Miss Falling Springs Outstanding Teen, which qualified her to compete in the Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen pageant in Louisville May 26 to 28. She didn't win that contest, but her family already had another road trip planned: The next day they flew to New York City and attended the May 30 live broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America - with Jaidah wearing her pageant sash. Her mother, Octavia Everett, had spoken to the show's producers about Jaidah's background and her desire to meet the first black Miss America, singer and actress Vanessa Williams. Williams was a scheduled guest on the show that day. Jaidah and her family were given seats near the anchors. "I wasn't sure if I was going to meet her, but I knew that I wanted to at least see her and I wanted to at least know what she was about, because I looked up to her a lot growing up," Jaidah said. "We just went and they just put a microphone on me and they were like, 'You're going to be on live television,' and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, what am I doing?'" Jaidah's chat with Williams came after her idol spoke about her career - one that Jaidah would like to emulate. "We have a big fan of yours here - Miss Falling Springs, Kentucky," said anchor George Stephanopolous. Jaidah asked Williams if she had any advice for girls her age competing in the Miss America system. Williams asked her age, and what she wanted to do. Jaidah replied that she wanted to be Miss America. Williams responded, "That's well and good, but that shouldn't be your goal in life. So what do you want to do as a woman in your life?" Jaidah told her she wanted to do musical theater on Broadway (like Williams). Williams asked her if she was in shows now - and what she was studying. Jaidah said yes (she attends SCAPA, Lexington's School for the Creative and Performing Arts). Williams said, "Keep doing what you're doing. When you go to college, I would assume that you would find a major that has a musical theater BFA (bachelor of fine arts degree). Make your way to a great program, and the more you practice, the more experience you get, the more you learn about composers and choreographers and the skill that you need - you'll be ready for Broadway. Education, education! ..." Jaidah thanked Williams, and the show returned to a conversation between the anchors and Jaidah's idol, who'd given what Jaidah calls "the best advice ever" to a girl she'd never met. Jaidah's summer had just begun. She's been cast as an extra in the television show, "Smoketown," which is filmed in Louisville. In early July, she and her family, who hail from Midway, will travel to Los Angeles to explore other opportunities. And in September, she'll take part in New York Fashion Week. Asked how she'll keep from getting a big head, she laughed, then said, "I'm definitely going to stay humble. I always pray. I always stay connected to my family. That's what keeps me humble ..."

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