There’s only one person who disputes that the Miss America Organization made an egregious error when it snubbed Miss Brooklyn Leigh-Taylor Smith: Leigh-Taylor Smith.
Showing the grace and style that she has shown throughout the grueling death march that is our nation’s premiere beauty pageant, Smith told The Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday that she did not feel snubbed, betrayed, abused, let down or otherwise dismissed by the panel of judges that made Miss Indiana, Katie Stam, this year’s Miss America.
“No, the fix was not in,” Smith told me by phone when this columnist suggested that the fix was, um, in. “I was right up there with the others, in the final five, because it was a fair process.”
Readers of this column have long known that I have little respect for the Miss America Organization.
It’s now been 25 years since Vanessa Williams became the last Miss New York to win it all. Since then, it’s been an endless procession of airy blondes with middle-aged-lady hairstyles, a talent for baton-twirling and vaguely Southern accents who have hijacked the notion of American beauty.
This was our year! We had Leigh-Taylor Smith. She’s got talent! She’s got brains! She prays at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Downtown. And no one pulls off a bikini like she does (I’m speaking figuratively, alas)!
But, alas, life isn’t fair.
“Yes, it is fair,” Smith told me. “I performed as well as I could. I left it all up there on the stage. For me, it was just very exciting to get into the final round.”
Even more exciting is the $18,000 in scholarship money that she gets to spend pursuing her Masters degree in design. She’s looking at Parsons or Fashion Institute of Technology, both in Gaphattan.
For now, she’s Miss New York until June.