Skyler Kamaka crowned Miss Hawaii 2012
BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
The first time was the charm for Skyler Kamaka last night as the college student was crowned Miss Hawaii at the Hawaii Convention Center.
Competing as Miss Diamond Head, Kamaka beat 15 other contestants in the 66th annual scholarship pageant.
“This is the first time I’ve ever entered a pageant,” Kamaka, 21, said back stage shortly after receiving her crown. “My preliminary pageant (for Miss Diamond Head) was my very first one, and this is my very first Miss Hawaii. I’m just ecstatic right now.”
Kamaka also won the Golf Tournament Scholarship and tied with Miss Ala Moana Courtney Kielemaikalani Gaddis for most ticket sales (both women received full sets of prizes for the tie). Gaddis won the scholarship for community service.
Kamaka described the experience of winning the title as “a thousand times” more exciting than she’d imagined it.
Pageant emcee Bill “Billy V” Van Osdol took his sweet time announcing each of the runner up positions and then — with the three remaining finalists waiting to learn which one of them was Miss Hawaii and which of them were the also-rans — he stretched it a little longer.
“My heart was racing (while I was waiting),” Kamaka said. “As soon as they called my name I was in shock. I couldn’t breathe. I’m just so honored.”
Miss Kahala Moani Hara was first runner-up and winner of the swimsuit category. The second runner-up spot went to Miss East Oahu Serena Karnagy; Miss Latina Hawaii Joleen Iwaniec was third runner-up and winner of the talent category. Miss Waikiki Sarah Correia was fourth runner-up.
A panel of seven judges scored the contestants on their appearance (swimsuit and evening gown), talent, performance during a private interview earlier in the week, and their ability to stay on point while answering a question on stage.
Four other contestants also received awards: Miss Kauai Lei U‘i Kaholokula was voted Miss Congeniality, and Miss Chinatown Hawaii Nicky Leong was voted Miss Photogenic. Miss Honolulu Carissa Kano received the scholarship for highest academic achievement and Miss Aloha Hawaii Brandy Shibuya was the recipient of the Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Maker Award.
Hula predominated as the talent of choice; seven of the finalists who survived the initial cut from 16 to 10 danced a hula in the talent segment; two of the other three chose other forms of dance as their medium of expression.
Leong did an interpretive dance to “The Prayer” as recorded by Ho‘okena and Maila Gibson, while Iwaniec performed a sizzling, high-impact Latin dance. Kaholokula rocked the crowd with the only vocal performance — “Forget You” (the G-rated, “clean version” of Cee Lo Green’s multi-platinum Top 10 hit, “F— You”).
Robert Cazimero, fresh from his win at the 2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards last month, gave the proceedings a welcome and wonderful Hawaiian sense of place as he provided musical accompaniment throughout the evening wear segment.
Kamaka said that she could not have participated in the competition — let alone won — without the support of her family, and that she was “very honored to have both my grandparents here this evening.”
She also thanked her predecessor, Miss Hawaii 2011 Lauren Cheape, “for talking to me last year and convincing me to come out and try to run for a pageant and win Miss Hawaii. Without her I wouldn’t be here today.”
Kamaka is looking forward to using her new visibility as Miss Hawaii to promote greater opportunities for people with disabilities. Her major at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, is Exercise and Sports Science with a minor in Coaching. Her pageant platform or project is Athletes Promoting Inclusion (API).
“It gives individuals with disabilities a chance to work with collegiate and professional athletics on confidence and character building, to get out and be active with other individuals with disabilities,” she said.
The issue is a personal one for her. She’s dyslexic and had to overcome it to pursue her career goals. Her experiences as a volunteer with Special Olympics have shown her how athletics can build confidence and self-esteem. And, she adds, her grandfather, Sam Kamaka, has employed and trained people with hearing impairments to become master ukulele builders.
Kamaka plans to take “my hula and my smile and my aloha spirit” to the Miss America pageant next January.
On a personal note, however, Kamaka is taking today off from her training regimen.
“I’m definitely gonna cheat tonight,” she said, just before she met a throng of well-wishers. “But on Monday it’s back to work!”
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for nearly 40 years. Contact him via email at email@example.com.
Miss Hawaii 2012 Scholarship Pageant
Hosted by Bill Van Osdol and Raeceen Woolford
Miss Hawaii 2012:
Miss Diamond Head Skyler Kamaka
Miss Kahala Moani Hara
Miss East Oahu Serena Karnagy
Miss Latina Hawaii Joleen Iwaniec
Miss Waikiki Sarah Correia