How did you learn about various pageants?
Suzy: I have been interested in pageantry since I was a young child. Since I began competing later in my teen and into my adult years, I would read Pageantry Magazine and learned so much information about various systems. Being more comfortable in the interview portion of competitions, I felt compelled to compete in those systems that had 50% judges interview because I felt that was my strongest area of competition.
Angie: What titles have you held?
Suzy: Mrs. International 2006, Mrs. Texas International 2006, Ms. U.S. Continental 2000-01, Mrs. Texas United States 2002, Top 10 Finalist and Swimsuit winner at the 2004 Mrs. United States Pageant.
Angie: What is your platform?
Suzy: Educating women on the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness and Early Detection.
Angie: How did you build your platform and promote your work?
Suzy: Since losing my mother to Breast Cancer in 2004, I saw first-hand the devastation that this disease creates on a physical, emotional, and even spiritual level. Watching her battle breast cancer three different times during 14 years made me realize that cancer is non-discriminating and can attack at any stage - even when one is cancer free for 10 years, which is what happened in my mother's case.
After her death, I went after my platform with a vengence and had the opportunity to work with amazing organizations such as the Komen Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and many pharmeceutical companies so I could spread the message about the importance of early detection and awareness. I am still working with many of these organizations today, even three years after my reign.
Angie: Why did you decide to compete?
Suzy: I thought I was done competing in pageants in July of 2004, and only one month after my decision to stop competing my mother passed away. Two year later, I felt a growing urge pulling me towards competing again. I had dreams that my mom was standing at the end of a stage holding a red velvet cape, a crown, and a septor and smiling at me.
Despite these dreams, I truly felt I was not strong enough to discuss in a public forum something that was so personal and difficult for me - yet the more dreams I had, the more I realized that there was a "bigger picture" that I knew I had not realized yet in terms of educating women and raising awareness about breast cancer. I felt I was supposed to compete in the International System because the system is so respected, and they promote making a difference in the lives of others through platform and community service.
Angie: Was/is competition scary?
Suzy: To be honest, the scariest part of any pageants to me - is trying to remember the opening number! I compete and coach contestants in the mind-set that you are your only competition. You are not competing against anyone else on that stage except with yourself
When we enter competitions, we have no idea what the judges are looking for and our purpose of being there goes far beyond winning a title. Our purpose lies in being able to connect with the people around us and make a positive difference in their lives.
I went into the pageant believing that everyone that was placed in front of me was there for a purpose and they may have been the only reason I was supposed to be there. If I was too focused on winning the title, I might have missed the purpose of my being there! The only scary parts of pageantry are when you are un-prepared and can't recover because you are not in the moment.
Angie: What personal fears did you have to overcome?
Suzy: Outside of the usual fear every contestant has of tripping on-stage? My biggest fear was that I would not be able to talk about my mother's battle with breast cancer without falling apart during interview, or on-stage. I also learned to transform my "fear" into "purpose" which shifted my thinking of "what if" to "when I," and the change in my perspective made me feel more in control of the interview competition.
Angie: What about your first competition, were you super confident?
Suzy: When I look back on my first competition, my passion for pageantry and wanting to increase my self-esteem were the driving forces. Was I confident? Yes and No. I felt confident in my ability to do well - until I walked into the orientation room - then NO! The great thing about knowing without a doubt that I was not going to win or even place early on, was that I began watching the stronger contestants and learning by observing them.
After my first pageant, I went into each competition studying those who won and learning from everyone I could learn from. This way of learning and applying new things with each competition gave me the confidence to feel better with every pageant I competed in.
Angie: I've done that same thing :-) What did you have to learn to compete?
Suzy: I had to learn that despite the outcome, the reason I did not win a pageant was because I did not perform my best. I could blame everyone and everything in the world as to why I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but in the end I knew I could have done better. When I began looking at my performance in ways that I could improve upon, rather than making excuses, I began competing better and had better results in my favor. I ultimately had to learn to remove the ego and come from a place of wanting to learn - that was my greatest lesson.
Angie: Tell us about what you were able to do as Mrs. International 2006 and your other titles:
Suzy: I had the opportunity to travel across the country and speak to women on the importance of early detection. The people I met during my journey touched me more than they will ever know. I remember my very first appearance was at a Cancer Hospital and I got the chance to tour the facilities as well as interact with the patients that were there being treated. As I was preparing to leave, a nurse asked me if I could wait for a patient who wanted to meet me, but she was in the process of completing a chemo treatment.
Several moments later, a young woman came running towards me crying hysterically and shaking. She didn't speak english, so the nurse was translating to me what she was saying. As she hugged me and cried on my shoulders, the nurse explained this woman was so moved that I took the time to visit the hospital, yet most importantly, was touched by the fact that I was speaking on her behalf as a cancer patient and trying to help others who were fighting her battle. This is one of so many incredible memories that I have from my journey as Mrs. International.
Angie: Please tell us about your business, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?
Suzy: I have always wanted to write a book on competing successfully in pageantry, and after my reign was completed, I truly felt that I wanted to give back and help contestants achieve their pageant goals. Because Mary Richardson is such an amazing and giving woman, she made me the official coach for the International Pageant, and I had the honor of coaching so many state delegates. I also had the priviledge of coaching Arma Fitzgerald who won Mrs. International 2009.
I love everything about coaching! I am blessed to have the most amazing women and teens and love them all as if they are my sisters or daughters!
Angie: What do you still want to achieve?
Suzy: I am finally writing my book on helping women compete successfully in pageantry. Ultimately, I am going to expand beyond pageantry into motivational speaking.
Angie: There's an idea in society that pageants are just skin deep. How would you answer that?
Suzy: I feel people need to be educated on the benefits of pageantry and how they create such a positive ripple of energy. I feel that in this day and age, the misconception of pageantry has changed because people are more aware of the community involvement and dedication that goes into being a titleholder.
Angie: The media has given Americans the idea that pageant girls/women are not intelligent and accomplished. What kind of an education do you have?
Suzy: I have a Bachelor's of Science Degree from the University of Wyoming. Being a part of the media for almost 17 years, I feel that if you can help educate and influence those individuals and corporations that have the ability to reach so many through the power of the media, you are not only benefiting your title but also providing young girls and women of all ages an outlet in which to make a difference in their communities and in the world.
Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue?
Suzy: I am a jewelry designer and have my own line which you can visit at www.SuzyBootz.com I also love to write, and have written many poems and now am in the process of writing a book. I think I got that talent from my mother who published a spanish book with a major publishing company years before she passed away.
Angie: Why is it important for a person to look their best?
Suzy: I believe the most beautiful feature of a person is their smile.
Angie: What do you hope you achieved with your titles long term?
Suzy: I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of young girls through self-esteem development, and pageantry gave me the opportunity to speak to so many women of all ages. I also hope I was able to help enough women become more aware of early detection that they will speak to their mothers, their daughters, their sisters, and their friends about the importance of breast health.
Angie: Would you share about your fashion favorites, flair, or a tip that makes you feel beautiful?
Suzy: I feel the most beautiful in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a piece of Suzy Bootz Jewlery, and one of my favorite designer sunglasses. I love to play dress-up on-stage, but I am a jeans and t-shirt girl all the way!
Angie: What compliment do you receive most often?
Suzy: I love the fact that so many people tell me I have a calming energy and am able to help them just through my energy. To be honest, the most amazing compliments I receive, are when people tell me I am beautiful on the inside - that just makes my day!
Angie: What are you most confident about?
Suzy: My ability to connect with people and help them achieve their goals. I have learned throughout my life that my persistence and desire to learn are the two factors that have helped me to succeed in every aspect of my life. I am confident that I can help others achieve their goals.
Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence?
Suzy: With every goal I set to achieve, I remained true to that goal until I reached it. I learned that life is not about what happens to you, but how you respond to those situations. Life is also about what you do with those gifts and situations that you do have control over, and how can you make a positive differnece in this world. Many people will never know who I am, but I pray that many are somehow touched by something positive I have done to make this world a better place.
Angie: Thank you, Suzy, for being with us :-)