Cheerleadingmix.com had the opportunity to be a part of the initial year of the Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant. As the official music provider of the pageant, we were proud to be part of Frank Byers’s vision to empower athletes all over the country. Read more below to learn more Abou this great event for cheer athletes.
Interview with Frank Byers, Organizer of the Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant
A native of Arkansas, Frank was a televised contestant on Season 6 of American Idol. Frank has participated in many other nationally recognized platforms across the U.S. Frank discovered the joy he found in producing moments that lead to life-giving memories and coaching others on their various journeys on and off the stage which lead to him starting his Production firm Thumbprint Productions. Frank has produced for various National as well as state-level pageants competitions, the most recent being the Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant. CheerleadingMix.com was the exclusive music provider for this pageant!
How did you become interested in pageants?
Years ago, in college, I was actually coaching cheerleading. I was cheering on a team and the coach’s daughter wanted to entertain and perform – singing was the way to do it. We were living in a small town in Arkansas. At that time for young ladies competing, pageants were the only type of platform to perform a new talent and singing. I went as a supporter for her one day and was asked randomly to sing the national anthem at that pageant. The rest is history.
What other pageants have you been involved with?
I’ve been blessed throughout the years to work with a lot of different organizations. I have the honor last December of producing the 100th anniversary of Miss America – it’s streaming live on Peacock – that really was the dream. Previous to that project, I had the opportunity last summer to produce Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. That was the actual pageant system where that young lady and I participated years ago. Then I started producing.
What inspired you to begin the Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant?
I noticed during my experiences with consultation and production that some pageants seemed to uplift the participants in a way others did not. I actually considered these to be more healthy. I wanted to help create healthy pageant systems that can be a powerful force to help develop the individuals who are taking part in them. There’s this unique stigma with pageants, one which I observed in my own experiences, and one I wanted to address and improve upon. Some participants never win a title. For me, it’s to see how participants grow year to year and to see how it radically changed the lives of the individuals who have participated.
What was your favorite thing about the Miss Cheerleader USA pageant?
The fact that this was our first year made the whole experience very exciting. I knew it’d be something different, but the cool thing that blew my mind was that first rehearsal. The athleticism was amazing, because I never could have envisioned and seen it all until we were sitting in rehearsal. I started putting the opening number together, and I was like, “This is really going to work!” From the youngest to the oldest – every one of the contestants were so talented.
The challenge is to navigate the pageant to that healthy place, so the girls are feeling comfortable on stage. Many would say “I’m not a dancer, I can’t do this.”My job became to encourage them that no matter how large or how small this is, they could succeed. I was challenged: they were like “Oh, you throw these skills, we can do this!” We put together a full routine for the opening, and that was not the plan. That was the athleticism I was hoping to see because I meant to prepare myself to organize the production around the fact that we had some real cheerleaders, some smash leads, and they were ready to throw out some skills. That was very, very cool.
How is the Miss Cheerleader USA pageant different from the other pageants?
One of the main things is knowing who you are and your brand. After the first year with this pageant, I’ve figured out who we are and what we’re there for. I’m shifting the focus from pageantry to competition. The pageant elements will still be part of the production, but we will highlight the competition element. We are changing the title to Miss Cheerleader of America and establishing two different systems to accompany the Miss Cheerleader USA competition. What will be different is that we will not expect individuals to come in, win a title, and represent us. Instead, we ask individuals to go in, do their best, and allow us to take the journey with them. We want to be in their corner, encourage them, support them, guide them, help them better, develop who they are on and off the mat, and more.
The hope is to take care of the competitors in a way that prepares them for society and the person they will be years from now. It is not that every pageant system isn’t structured their way. But I know for me. Personally, it is now about the crown. I always tell the girls this and the guys we have as well: I could care less who wins. I genuinely could care less. One, because to me, the ones who succeed are those who engage throughout all the interaction. Anyone can walk over to the title. It’s what you get out of that time that you spend together, and I want to be an organization that, years from now, gets to see the true life. I want to hear stories of how the students who were part of our organization and how their lives were radically changed because of our impact on them beyond the title.
I look forward to all the others who may never win, you know? They get more from the organization than the ones who did win.
So we are transforming our pageant structure for season two. We’re going to change it to be more like American Idol meets So You Think You Can Dance, where our judge’s panel will be the same, and they will coach them. You get the competitor’s feedback leading up to nationals and even during nationals. They’ll be more interactive, and many pageants don’t do that. We will have the same judging panel that selects them at the preliminary competition that then guides them with feedback. So then, by the time the competitors advance to a national event, the judges are the same people who have seen them. These judges will give competitors more encouragement and feedback, and then they will select the overall winner based on the well-rounded growth of who they are as individuals.
What do you think is the secret to running a successful pageant?
When you find out, let me know, and I’ll tell them. The funny thing is I have produced for a long time. So I was very comfortable in Atlanta, but I have been the director of an organization in the pageant system of competition, and it was hard because it’s two sides of the brain that have to work in tandem. Sometimes those two perspectives are crunching at the same time. It can be overwhelming! And so, I’ll say that the secret is surrounding yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses, hands down. That’s the most important thing: there is no one alive that is perfect. Having the support system in place is critical!
Thank you to Frank for sitting down and talking with us. We cannot wait to see what the
Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant has in store in the future!
Want to hear more from Frank about the Miss Cheerleader USA Pageant?