Tara Rice does it all! As a successful model, actress, mom, and entrepreneur, she is inspiring our team at VIVA GLAM Magazine along with everyone around her. And when COVID-19 struck and took down many business owners, Tara quickly adapted and brought forth her California United States Pageant in a different way. She saw these challenges as an opportunity to grow. She believes in the power of resilience, and her great efforts continue to shine through as she prepares for both her California United States and Miss West Coast pageants in the summer of 2021. We sat down with Tara to discuss all about her career.
Before we discuss your successes in the world of pageantry, let’s talk a little about you and your background. You’ve had many successes as a model and actress. What are your favorite projects that you have worked on?
One of my favorite shoots was with celebrity photographer John Russo shooting for the Sacoor Brothers Campaign with actor Billy Baldwin. Another memorable shoot was shooting for Maxim Magazine in Peru. For the Maxim shoot, we stayed in huts along the Amazon River. There was no electricity, phone service or electronics. I held a sloth, saw a pink dolphin (river dolphin) and danced with the natives. I ended up getting a 4-page spread in Maxim.
One of my favorite films I worked on was a film that I co-produced called “Hitting the Nuts” which is a mockumentary poking fun at the poker craze phenomenon. There were many laughs on set with the talented cast I worked along the side of. I learned how to play Texas Holdem when I was 21 by well-known professional poker players, and before I knew it, I was a sponsored poker player playing in big tournaments like the World Series of Poker.
In January 2020 you were in the Genesis Super Bowl commercial with Christy Tiegan and John Legend. What was it like working with those incredibly iconic stars?
It was an incredible experience working with both of them. They were both kind and cool to the crew and talent.
You were also recognized as part of the top 25 most influential people in Los Angeles. Congratulations! Can you tell us about this?
Los Angeles Entrepreneur Magazine selected 25 influential people whom they felt were making a positive impact on their community and others. It’s my mission in life to help others learn how they can greatly impact their communities by helping others by volunteering, advocating and becoming inspiring leaders. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m a pageant director, because it gives me an opportunity to inspire girls and women to become young leaders in their communities. I was also honored to receive the “Top 4 Under 40 Award” in Santa Clarita Valley two years ago.
You’re also a family woman! Is it difficult for you balancing your career and your family?
Yes, it can be a tough challenge balancing career and family life. Last year, when the pandemic hit, I panicked. I kept asking myself, “How will I be able to take care of my family on a daily basis 24/7 while trying to work?” I can honestly say it was the greatest challenge of my life. The one word I kept repeating to myself was “adaptation”. I had to learn to adapt to our new norm and like many others, became innovative and found new ways to still work. I would help my 5-year-old with distance learning online in the mornings. Then, when my baby would go down for a nap, I would conduct zoom pageant coaching sessions and make my business phone calls. Then, I was back to mom after the nap. Then, once I got the boys down to sleep, I would work again until late at night. It’s during challenging times we must become resilient and stronger.
What’s your take on beauty and its importance?
I believe beauty truly shines from within. When I became a Pageant Director, I decided I didn’t want the word “beauty” to define my pageants. There is no height, weight or specific “look” requirements to participate in my pageants. I believe beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. We’re each unique and beautiful in our own way. I always tell my contestants that they are in competition with themselves and ‘nobody else is you’. What makes us all beautiful is that we’re all unique.
You are also a runway teacher. Can you remember the first time you ever stepped out on the runway? What was it like? Can you tell us about your history on the runway?
I was 20 years old when I did my first big runway show for Billabong. I remember I was nervous but excited. One of my favorite clients that I modeled for was Casablanca Bridal. I did 4 shows for them every year in LA, Chicago and New York for about 9 years, so they became like family, and I worked with models that are still my friends 20 years later. I mastered how to walk in a gown with a huge train.
Tara, you are the Director of the California United States Pageant and Founder of the Miss West Coast Pageant. 2020 has been a life-changing year for everyone. The pandemic has pushed most to either step up or step aside. You, yourself, were telling us about the importance of staying resilient and adapting to the new norm. Can you tell us how you have done this and how it applied to your 2020 California United States pageant during the pandemic?
I made the decision that I couldn’t let 80 to 100 girls down, and when our world was filled with so much darkness, I wanted to provide some light and hope. I see my titleholders as essential workers. They volunteer and provide so much to others and their communities. Viki Le, my Miss West Coast US titleholder, is a nurse, and she is on the frontlines helping others. She goes beyond the call of duty. She has organized, with her sister queens and I, meals for the nurses and doctors in the hospitals, and she has done missions in Vietnam helping children and families get the health care that they are in great need of. Annika Heieck, my Miss Preteen California US titleholder, created Senior Pals and brings joy to the seniors isolated in senior homes. I could go on and on about how remarkable all my titleholders are. They inspire me and others! When I decided to conduct the California United States Pageant during the pandemic, I had to completely change the way I usually produce a pageant, but it was my number one priority to keep everyone safe. I implemented all safety measures with temperature checks, masks, as well as greatly limiting the number of contestants and audience applying to the rules that were in place by LA County.
Do the new protocols have you putting in more hours to adapt?
Yes, I’m putting in more hours, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What’s it like holding coaching sessions over Zoom? Is this more of an obstacle in the coaching process?
At first, I was like, “How in the heck will this work?”, as I barely knew how to set up a zoom meeting. But after a few coaching sessions, I realized that I could be more productive with my time while saving my clients’ time. There are many pros to Zoom sessions, like less time sitting in a car in LA trying to get to a studio. I’m glad I learned other methods on how to coach. I see all the challenges that occurred last year as an opportunity of growth.
The Miss West Coast & California United States pageants are both coming up- being held in the summer of 2021. Can you tell us what we can expect from these upcoming events?
Yes, the 2021 Miss West Coast Pageant will be held in June 2021 at the Downey Theatre. If the theatre can’t open to the public at that time, then I will hold the pageant at the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts. I will limit the audience to follow the social distancing rules and have contestants walk on stage one at a time like I did last year. I work with 8 different age divisions (ages 4 years old up to 60 years old) so I split up the pageant into multiple pageant show times. I’m currently seeking Sponsors for the 2021 Pageants, and interested contestants can apply at www.misswestcoastpageant.com or contact [email protected].
The California United States Pageant will be held in August 2021. Last year, three of our state titleholders won national titles. Tiffany Rea won Miss United States, Joanna Trialov won Ms Woman United States and Caitlyn Schollmeier won Mrs United States.
What’s your advice for young girls looking to join these pageants in 2021?
Call or set up a zoom meeting with me so I can inform you about our upcoming pageants. You don’t have to be a “pageant girl” to participate in a pageant. Anyone can participate in a pageant, and it’s a great way to advocate for a platform you’re passionate about, network, get modeling opportunities, find brand ambassador opportunities, brand your own business and get more exposure. The United States Pageant is also a televised pageant.
I hope you are as inspired by Tara and her passions as we are! She is proof that you can work hard, reach for your dreams, and succeed. Be sure to follow along with Tara (@TaraMaeRice) and both of her pageants (@MissWestCoastPageant and @MissCaliforniaUS) this year! These events are inspiring, exciting, and not-to-be-missed.
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