Friday, January 12, 2007

Miss America Speaks Out about Recent Pageant Controversies on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Last night CNN’s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT focused on the Rosie O’Donnell/Donald Trump/Barbara Walters controversy. Miss America, Jennifer Berry, also appeared at the end of the show. Below is a transcript of Jennifer’s interview; for the full transcript CLICK HERE.

ANDERSON: Tonight, we`ve got brand new information about Miss USA Tara Conner in rehab, whose near fall from grace led to the now infamous Donald Trump/Rosie O`Donnell feud. Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, gave Conner a second chance at a dramatic press conference, where she announced she was going into rehab. Trump let her keep her crown, even though she was out partying under age in clubs. Conner is in rehab in Pennsylvania, and today SHOWBIZ TONIGHT learned that she is going to be finished in about two weeks. And Tara, please be good. We would hate for anything to happen that would start another war of words between Trump and Rosie. All right, well, we can tell that you Miss America has had a year nothing like Miss USA Tara Connors, in terms of controversy. And you can bet that she is very happy about that. Jennifer Berry was crowned Miss America almost a year ago and is now finishing up her reign. It`s been an amazing year that has really changed her life. So with us tonight in Hollywood, Miss America Jennifer Berry. There she is, Miss America, great to see you. Thanks for being here.

JENNIFER BERRY, MISS AMERICA: Thanks for having me.

ANDERSON: Now you have had a tremendous year.


ANDERSON: No tabloid reports for you, fortunately, right?


ANDERSON: But when you heard -- I have to ask you -- when you heard about the Miss USA controversy, all the partying, the carrying on, were you surprised, or is it something that goes on and she just got caught?

BERRY: I actually was surprised. However, Miss America and Miss USA are two very different organizations. So we really have no association with them. So I didn`t really keep up with what she was doing and that sort of thing. I was surprised. Of course I was disappointed for her that she would have to go through all of that. But, of course, it all comes down to decision making, and I`ve had to realize that as Miss America as well.

ANDERSON: Yes, you know, she thought she was going to get fired by Donald Trump. Then he gave her a second chance. She is now in rehab. Did you also feel sorry for her, because I know there are a lot of pressures that go along with any pageant?

BERRY: Well, and I have met Tara. She is a wonderful young lady. I have had the opportunity to spend time with her in May. So really, you know, the sense of being in the public eye, it can be very difficult. So, of course, I empathize for her. However, it is her decisions that kind of got her into that place in the first place. So, of course, I know that Donald made the best choice for his organization that he could, and now is really a good time for us to help America differentiate the two organizations, and that`s really, kind of, how we have tried to handle the situation.

ANDERSON: Well tell us a little about the difference, because I know that people always, constantly are getting them confused. They are drastically different.

BERRY: Yes, Very different. When it comes down to the actual pageant itself, there are differences in the scoring system. Of course, for Miss America, 25 percent of our score is interviews; 35 percent of our score is talent. Miss USA does not have a talent portion. There`s just different scoring that goes on. The platform issue is also a big difference. Eighty percent of my year and what I do revolves around my platform, which was building intolerance to drunk driving and underaged drinking.

ANDERSON: Something that Tara Conner`s behavior brought a lot of attention to, as well, awareness of underage drinking.

BERRY: Quite ironic.

ANDERSON: And you work with Mothers and Drunk Driving.

BERRY: I do.

ANDERSON: You are very passionate about this. It`s very personal and close to your heart, isn`t it?

BERRY: It is. Unfortunately in high school, you know, I was unaware that underaged drinking was a national epidemic, until a lost a close friend to an alcohol related car crash. We were just 16 at the time of her death and it was the first time that I really realized the impact that underaged drinking had on my life. So I worked in five years in Oklahoma with MAD, and then, once I was crowned Miss America, was asked to become a national spokesperson for MAD. So, really, a very timely issue. Underaged drinking and drunk driving has been a national epidemic for a long time. And I`m the first and only Miss America to have that platform, so I have really had great opportunities this year.

ANDERSON: And I know you have worked tirelessly. I have seen your schedule. You`ve been all over the place and it`s really admirable that you have worked so hard at that. How has it changed your life, being Miss America? You know, little girls dream of that. How has it changed your life?

BERRY: It`s amazing to me, because I think when you are actually crowned, it doesn`t stop. I mean, from that moment on it`s a whirl wind. And here I am at the end of the year and I still don`t think I quite comprehend it. You know, I still meet former Miss Americas and I`m in awe and I`m inspired by them and I think, for me, of course, forever my life will be changed and I hope to give back to the organization half of what they`ve given to me. They always say, once a Miss America, always a Miss America. And I think that`s one of the most wonderful things about the organization. It`s opened doors for me that I probably never would have had before. It`s given me so many opportunities that most 23 years old don`t have. And that`s something I will forever be grateful for.

ANDERSON: Well best of luck in all that you do. I know that you`re going to be a huge success, no matter what you do.

BERRY: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Jennifer Berry, thank you so much. And Jennifer will be handing over her crown to a new Miss America on January 29th. The pageant is going to be broadcast live on Country Music Television.


  1. Just thought I would pass along some USA news - Miss NJ USA resigned due to pregnancy. I just saw an article posted from the AP. Wow, first Miss USA and Miss Nevada, now this - USA is not getting any good publicity lately! Hope all is well!

  2. Hey Pam, it’s great to hear from you!

    I was also just reading about Miss New Jersey USA. It has just been one thing after another for that poor pageant system! At least she’s not aborting a life in order to keep a crown, but I am really world about how the collection of these “scandals” will negatively effecting every pageant system.

    Hope all is well for you and Neil!



Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Your contribution will be moderated before it appears on the blog.