Meet Miss Iowa: An interview with Aly Olson

Aly Olson, Miss Iowa 2014 -- photo by Tonya Kehoe
Aly Olson, Miss Iowa 2014 — photo by Tonya Kehoe

Seated on the front porch of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Branch for a photo shoot, Aly Olson told me a little about her typical day as Miss Iowa 2014. The schedule she detailed was so busy, all I remember is that she was happy to have found time for an 8-minute nap in between appointments. Nevertheless, Olson is thrilled to be so involved in her new full-time job as Miss Iowa, and plans on returning to the University of Iowa next year to complete her Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance.

It’s a new era for Miss Iowa, as Olson tells me about her generous scholarships, her widespread channels of social media and most importantly, her platform. It is all very modern and savvy indeed. By the end of our time together, Olson had already posted an outtake of the photo shoot on Instagram, with all the hashtagging and tags perfectly in place. Oh, she is Miss America material indeed — this smart, funny, talented and ambitious woman gets things done, and somehow appears cool as a cucumber doing so.

Little Village: It was so nice to see you riding in the big white Jeep at the front of the 2014 Iowa City Pride Parade, I immediately had to come say hello, and congratulate you on your new title! Can you tell us a little about where you grew up, and how you became interested in pageants? What was your first title?

Aly Olson: I grew up on the Southside of Des Moines and attended Lincoln High School and Central Academy. My older sister and I were involved in dance and sports, and our parents always encouraged us to try new experiences. My sister entered a pageant when she was little, and our family was clueless! The pageant “bug” still got to my sister and the next year both my sister and I both entered a pageant. It’s been a family affair ever since. I was Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen 2010, which is the little sister program to the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program. Being a state teen titleholder was like being Miss Iowa in-training and allowed me to prepare for this year’s Miss Iowa competition deliberately but also with balance.

LV: What was your first appearance as Miss Iowa 2014? What are some other appearances you have lined up?

The Iowa City Pride was my first official appearance as Miss Iowa, and it was a great way to start my year of service! As I came around the corner of Dubuque and Washington, I was overwhelmed with the cheering of love and support from everyone at Pride for the LGBTQ community.

I am looking forward to attending other events that promote diversity and equality as well as singing across the state. I aim to make it into as many Iowa towns and communities as possible.

Please tell our readers about the positive work you are doing during your tenure as Miss Iowa. What issues are close to your heart?

My platform ‘Do One Thing: Diversity Everyday’ is a social media campaign (#DoOneThing) and lifestyle that I invite all to join me in by doing easy, actionable tasks everyday that contribute to larger change for diversity and inclusion. My involvement in the UI Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show allowed me to recognize and celebrate my passion for diversity. I believe we all should be a part of this conversation about our country’s growing diversity and that we can all do one thing to facilitate change.

Okay, so just for fun … I did get to see your crown up close, and I have to say it is gorgeous! I am partial to sparkly things and know that this position is more than just the pretty crown and sash. What is your favorite part of winning Miss Iowa 2014?

I get so much amazing stuff! The Miss Iowa Program has truly amazing sponsors that have equipped me with a Miss Iowa car (Uptown Motors in Muscatine), an apartment (Advance Properties in Davenport), a beautiful fur coat (Iowa Trapper’s Association), haircare for a year (Ulta of Davenport), and a trainer (Workout With Ray) and many more! I also received over $12,000 in college scholarships from competing in Miss Iowa.

What I look forward to most is competing in Miss America in September in Atlantic City, N.J. I want to bring home the Miss America crown to the state of Iowa for the very first time! Between now and September 14, I am preparing for the competition full time. ABC will broadcast the pageant live on September 14. Send me good vibes, Iowa City!
As a member of the tech-savvy generation, how are you using social media platforms to share your platform? How can readers stay in touch with your work?

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I am all over social media! I have two Facebook pages: Miss Iowa 2014, Aly Olson and Do One Thing: Diversity Everyday that is committed solely to my platform. Follow me on Instagram @missiowa2014 or Twitter @AlyOlson. I also have a tumblr blog for more in-depth reflection on my work with my platform and my experiences as Miss Iowa. I encourage all to begin using the hashtag #DoOneThing whenever you see a moment that celebrates diversity or you want to join in the discussion. Stay posted for ways to get involved with my platform throughout the year!

Aly Olson, Miss Iowa 2014 -- photo by Tonya Kehoe
Photo by Tonya Kehoe