One on One with…Marybeth Noonan, Miss Maine

MISS MAINE Marybeth Noonan of Raymond will try to do something no one else in the state has done, become Miss America. (Betsy B Photography)

MISS MAINE Marybeth Noonan of Raymond will try to do something no one else in the state has done, become Miss America. (Betsy B Photography)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

RAYMOND — When Marybeth Noonan was 14 years old, she became a princess.

Marybeth started her own business, Rent-A-Princess, dressing as Disney princesses to entertain at children’s parties.

Now, she wants to be a queen.

Marybeth took a step closer to that goal last month when she was crowned Miss Maine at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland.

The daughter of Tom and Jane Chipman Noonan of Raymond, Marybeth will compete at The Miss America Pageant on Sept. 11 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Marybeth, 20, has been competing in pageants since she was 13 and has won four previous events including Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen, also run by the Miss America organization. She is a 2013 graduate of Windham High School and is enrolled at Lyndon State College majoring in electronic journalism, hoping to one day become a TV news anchor.

The News posed the following questions to Marybeth, who will try to become Maine’s first Miss America.

BN: How did you become interested in competing in pageants? What was your first pageant, how old were you, how did it go?

Marybeth: The director of a musical theater camp I attended in middle school recruited me to run for Miss Young Teen Maine 2008. I loved to perform so when I saw there was a talent portion I agreed to compete.

BN: What do you remember most about the first one?

Marybeth: I wore a gown that I bought at Goodwill for only $10. I am still shocked that I won while wearing that thing!

BN: What drove you to continuing to compete?

Marybeth: Since I won the title, I was asked to perform at the Miss Maine Pageant. I was only 13 and I remember looking at the 18 to 24-year-old contestants and thinking, “I want to be like them someday.” The very next year, I signed up to compete for Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen, which is the “little sister” pageant to Miss Maine.

MOMENT OF TRIUMPH — Marybeth Noonan reacts after being named Miss Maine. (Betsy B Photography)

MOMENT OF TRIUMPH — Marybeth Noonan reacts after being named Miss Maine. (Betsy B Photography)

BN: What is the most difficult aspect of these competitions?

Marybeth: It takes a lot of courage to walk on stage in a bikini! However, I have learned to take care of my body and to be happy with the way I look. I think it is really important that I maintain a figure that looks strong rather than extremely thin. I would never want a young girl who looks up to me think, “I need to starve myself to look like Marybeth.” To get ready for the lifestyle and fitness competition, I worked with a nutritionist to help diet in a healthy and normal way. I wouldn’t even really say I was on a diet because he had me eating more food than I normally do. The main goal was to cut out the junk and feed my body with real food. I also worked with a personal trainer, who showed me how to properly weight lift. In a nutshell, I ate six protein-packed meals a day and worked out for one to two hours, five to six days a week.

BN: What did you learn most about yourself?

Marybeth: Pageants in general have made me realize that I am a very hard worker. Winning Miss Maine was my lifelong dream and I knew that if I gave it my all I could win. I like to joke that I am a “goal digger.” Pageants have taught me how to set goals and how to work hard to achieve them.

BN: What would you say are your greatest strengths when it comes to competitions?

Marybeth: I feel the most confident with the interview portion. This phase of competition happens the day before the pageant. It is a 10-minute long interview with you and the judges, where they ask you about current events, your goals in life and why you should be chosen to wear the crown. Interview has always been my strongest category.

BN: How have pageants molded you as a person?

Marybeth: Without pageants, I would not be the confident, articulate and driven young woman I am today. Each contestant has a platform, which is a charitable cause they advocate for. Mine is called “Be Their Voice,” which is fundraising for childhood cancer research and providing assistance to those affected by pediatric cancer. The work I’ve done for my platform has made me more compassionate and has shown me that giving back is essential. My friend, Josh Perry-Hall, inspired me to choose my platform. Watching him battle Hodgkin’s lymphoma made me want to help other kids and adolescents like him.

BN: Some people look negatively on pageants (possibly exploitations). How would you respond to this?

Marybeth: The Miss America organization is much more than a beauty pageant. It is the largest scholarship provider for women in the world. Contestants are scored on how well-spoken, talented, educated and charismatic they are. They are also required to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. To date, the Miss America Organization has raised $13 million for the CMN. I can’t think of one negative thing about any of this!

BN: Talk about how other contestants react to each other, and are friendships created?

Marybeth: Even though we are competing against each other, pageant girls are extremely kind to one another. We all share such a rare hobby! I have some of the most brilliant and compassionate friends in the country thanks to pageantry.

BN: Talk about your reaction to winning Miss Maine, and what you felt was the difference maker for you to capture the crown?

CROWNED MISS MAINE, Marybeth Noonan of Raymond, who aspires to be a TV news anchor. (Steve Smith Photography)

CROWNED MISS MAINE, Marybeth Noonan of Raymond, who aspires to be a TV news anchor. (Steve Smith Photography)

Marybeth: Instant tears. Hearing my name called as the new Miss Maine is something I’ve wanted to hear for a long time. I put a lot more effort into my preparation this year. I felt really ready. I took this past semester off from school because my college is in Vermont. I wanted to be in Maine and dedicate my time toward preparation. My days consisted of working out, practicing my singing, studying current events, writing out mock interview questions, traveling all over New England to look for wardrobe, completing paperwork, fundraising for The Children’s Miracle Network and working on my platform.

BN: What do you look forward most to the next round, and how will you prepare for it?

Marybeth: I cannot wait to compete in Miss America. There’s nothing I want more than to put Maine on the map. I have a Miss America Prep Team to help me prepare for nationals. There has never been a Miss Maine who went on to win Miss America. My goal is to change that. The Miss Maine Board of Directors will assign me a Prep Team to ensure I am at the top of my game for Miss America. I will spend most of my summer preparing for the big event.

BN: What are your future career goals?

Marybeth: My career aspiration is to be a news anchor. I interned at Channel 6 in Portland this past Spring with Lee Goldberg. I was a news reporter at the Vermont Center for Community Journalism in Vermont this past fall. I want to be a news anchor because it is rewarding to give people the information they need to be free and self-governing.

BN: How did you start Rent-A-Princess, and what do you find most rewarding?

Marybeth: I started Rent-A-Princess at the age of 14. The receptionist at my dentist office contacted me because her daughter thought the real Snow White was going to visit her birthday party. She knew I was involved in theater so she asked if I could dress up and sing a song. The party was a hit and before I new it I had a successful business. I do parties at Center Stage Performing Arts in Raymond, Studio for the Living Arts in Gray and at-home parties across southern Maine. I even have employees now. We offer a variety of different princesses, but Elsa from “Frozen” is the most popular.

I also have a charitable component to my business. There is no better feeling than visiting Camp Sunshine and Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital as Elsa and seeing the pain temporarily disappear from the faces of the children. It is an unbelievably fulfilling feeling. I once had a little girl with leukemia cling onto my leg and say, “I promise I’ll get better so I can visit you at Disney.” Moments like that make me even more determined to fight pediatric cancer.

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