Nan Teninbaum, president of the Miss Alabama organization, is traveling with Procter as she makes numerous personal appearances and readies for the Miss America Pageant. Teninbaum said she learned to sit back and let God take care of the Miss Alabama winner.
“I’m a strong believer in God, and I know he has a hand in making decisions and choosing people. I used to stress and worry about who was going to be chosen as Miss Alabama,” Teninbaum said. “I finally learned it’s all in God’s hands and he knows who’s going to be the new Miss Alabama. I think it was in God’s plans for Jessica to be Miss Alabama, and I can’t think of anyone else who would do a better job. I’m so happy we have a Miss Alabama who has a strong faith. I think God led her through this process.”
Going into the competition with a clear mindset is important, but remembering to stay healthy is even more pressing. The competition does a great job of keeping health at the forefront of its priorities, making it a welcoming place to be, Procter said.
“[The Miss America competition] is such a huge opportunity and you just have to go into it knowing that it’s the most mental, spiritual and physical competition,” Procter said. “We pride ourselves in health and fitness and the Miss America competition does a great job showcasing that. Everyone’s health is different, and you need to find out what’s healthiest for you. The healthiest thing isn’t always celery ... sometimes it’s a milkshake.”
Teninbaum said she hopes Procter will be up for the Quality of Life Award, given for community service for Miss America contestants, but it won’t be determined until Procter speaks with the judges and press about her platform, ‘Step Up to the Plate: Decreasing Food Insecurity.’
Procter’s platform focuses on raising awareness for hunger by holding canned food drives, speaking to community groups and schools, raising money, encouraging volunteerism, and creating food recovery programs. If Procter is chosen for the award, she’ll participate in a special interview to determine finalists and the winner.
“It would be an honor to be the Quality of Life finalist and to be able to get that exposure in order to market to other people,” Procter said. “It’s an honor to raise awareness for the West Alabama Community Food bank, and there’s no higher honor to be recognized for something that’s not even about you.”
Procter has appeared at Miss America before, to sing the National Anthem as Miss Alabama's Outstanding Teen. Teninbaum said the stage experience helps Procter with the upcoming competition.
“It’s definitely positive with her having already been the Teen winner; having already competed in the national level gives her an advantage of knowing what a national competition is like,” she said. “Having something that no one else has done, singing, to know that she was chosen for that is awesome. She’s already been on that stage and already performed in front of thousands of people.”
Procter plans to keep her talent, singing “Over the Rainbow” for the Miss America competition. Teninbaum said the preparations for the national competition are similar to the preparation for the Miss Alabama competition, just on a larger scale.
Since the Miss America competition is on a national platform, the pageant can increase any nervousness that might come along. Teninbaum said the jitters aren’t always a bad thing.
“You want to have a little bit of the jitters. It gets them pumped and focused, but you have to concentrate on the most pressing thing at the moment,” she said. “You can’t be thinking about the swimsuit portion during interviews. You have to take each competition as it comes and once it’s over, we forget about it. There’s nothing you can do to change it, you can’t stress if you don’t feel good about it because you have to go to the next competition.”
Procter is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Psychology. She was crowned Miss Alabama 2017 on June 10 and will compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September. Preliminary competitions are held Sept. 6-8, and the final night is Sept. 10.
“When I come home, I know I’ll have done everything I could do. It won’t matter the outcome, because I know that I was myself and I was my best self for the next two weeks,” Procter said. “The wins are subjective, the competition is subjective and it’s not about the judges – it’s not subjective for how you feel. You can’t lose if you feel you gave it everything you have.”