Steuri crowned Miss Hawaii 2014
BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
A childhood dream came true on Saturday as Stephanie Steuri, 20, was crowned Miss Hawaii 2014 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.
“My mom was Miss Maui in 1977 and her crown is right outside my bedroom, there’s a nice little light on it and everything. Its something I’ve looked up to since I was a kid,” Steuri said backstage moments after receiving her own crown from Miss Hawaii 2013 Crystal Lee. Competing as Miss Paradise Kauai, she beat 14 other contestants in the 68th annual scholarship pageant.
In addition to winning the overall title and the opportunity to represent Hawaii nationally, Steuri won the swimsuit and talent categories. She won the talent portion of the pageant competition by dancing a very modern hula to very atypical material — “Feeling Good” as recorded by Nina Simone.
“I wanted to bring something new and exciting to the Miss Hawaii stage,” Steuri said. “I worked with Patrick Makuakane, who was my first kumu hula when I lived in San Francisco. He has this style (of hula), the hula mua, which is a very progressive form of hula.
“I called him up and we were able to work together to choreograph that amazing number. I was beyond excited to be able to share that with everybody here tonight. It is a new, contemporary type of hula that I’m really excited to be a part and performing.”
“I was not expecting the swimsuit award, to be honest. (I’m) thrilled that that was awarded to me, and I’m just very happy that the judges, and really the rest of the audience, were receptive to my progressive form of hula.”
Miss Waikiki Ka‘iulani Carr was first runner-up. Second runner-up went to Miss Kona Coffee Jeanné Kapela. Miss Diamond Head Chelsea Clement was third runner-up. The fourth runner-up spot went to Miss East Oahu Kelly Simek, also received the Miss America First Hawaiian Bank Community Service Award.
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. The contestants overall did better with their questions than in some years past.
Four other contestants also received awards: Miss Kahala Gabriella Leilani Sheindlin won Most Photogenic. Miss Na Hawai‘iki Lei U‘i Kaholokula received the Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Maker Award. Miss North Shore Brittany Atiburcio received the Miss America Academic Award and was voted Miss Congeniality. Miss Chinatown Hawaii Jessica Cheng won the award for most ticket and sponsorship sales.
STEURI WAS one of five contestants out of the 10 who survived the initial cut from 15 who chose to represent Hawaiian or hapa-haole culture in the talent competition. Miss North Shore Brittany Atiburcio danced hula ‘auana (“Pili Aloha”), Miss Waikiki Ka‘iulani Carr danced an exquisite hula to “Ka Wai Mukiki,” and Miss Kahala Gabriella Leilani Sheindlin combined hapa-haole hula and pop moves in a dance routine built around a classic Elvis Presley hapa-haole hit, “Rock-A-Hula Baby.”
Miss Valley Isle Celina Jean Ku‘unani Hayashi also kept it local — she performed contemporary ballet/jazz choreography to a Paula Fuga song.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of the late Thom “McGuava” McGarvey, a volunteer and executive director of the Miss Hawaii Scholarship Program for almost 40 years, who died in January. McGarvey’s decades of service were documented in a video presentation and Miss Hawaii 1984 Debbie Nakanelua Richards danced a hula (Kui Lee’s “I’ll Remember You”) in his honor.
Steuri described McGarvey and pageant production chair Ray Abregano as “names that have been tossed around my household for years.”
“Ray and Thom McGarvey both coached my mom back when she ran,” Steuri said. “It was an absolute pleasure finally putting the face to the name and getting to work with them.”
LOOKING FORWARD, the newly-crowned Miss Hawaii 2014 said she intends to give “110 percent” to the responsibilities that come with her new crown and title.
“I’ve just completed my third year as a biology major at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and I’d like to finish off that degree and then go on to veterinary school, but I think I’m going to be taking a year off from school to really fulfill all the duties that Miss Hawaii has,” said Steuri.
“I’d like to get out in the community as fast as I can and really be the ambassador of aloha for Hawaii, and then go on to Miss America and make our beautiful island state proud.”
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.