Meet Miss Congeniality, Juneau’s representative to Alaska’s top pageant

Miss Congeniality
Honour Miller-Austin (center left), the Miss Alaska USA 2023 pageant’s Miss Congeniality, poses with Miss Alaska USA 2022 Courtney Schuman at the Anchorage pageant on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (Courtesy Honour Miller-Austin)

Juneau’s representative at this year’s statewide Miss Alaska USA pageant placed third overall and received the coveted Miss Congeniality award. Honour Miller-Austin sat down with KTOO’s Chloe Pleznac to discuss her experience and future in pageantry. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Chloe Pleznac: I want to start with just asking you to tell us a little bit about your background. Were you raised in Juneau?

Honour Miller-Austin: Yes, I was born and raised in Juneau and haven’t left ever. I just go on little vacations here and there. But mostly a Juneau girl.

CP: There can sometimes be a little bit of a mixed perception, I think, in media about what pageantry is. Is there something that you wish people understood better about it?

HMA: Yeah. I think that it was also one of those things where I felt it was very surface level. And I was very nervous to be the “pageant girl”, but going there and experiencing that is way different than actually what you see on social media. Any sort of, like, stigma surrounding pageantry is very false. A lot of the women really do want to help and change the world and make differences in their community, and then kind of reach out to a bigger problem. So it’s really fun and interesting and a deeper meaning than just being a pageant girl.

CP: What does the title of Miss Congeniality mean to you?

HMA: I think that it really helped me realize that I was actually a really big positive energy towards the girls in the pageant. Really experiencing the event for the first time made me, I don’t know, I think it’s a good title for just like positivity all around. And I think that that’s what I try to aspire to be in real life as well as in other women’s lives, because it’s really important to encourage others to do their best and be who they are. And so for me to win that was really big.

CP: It’s my potentially outdated perception that most pageant contestants have some kind of special skill or, you know, a cause that they advocate for. Do you have a special skill or a cause that you showcased?

HMA: Yeah, so we had a – I think it was called a platform. And my platform was “Better than yesterday.” It’s a mental health platform that surrounded, like, trying to bring light to making sure others are aware that we are trying to advocate for mental health, and how to get everyone better health care access, and able to make sure that they I suppose can be less ashamed of how they handle their mental health and how we get access to those resources and stuff like that. But I think that that was a lot of women’s platform this year is just bringing more awareness to mental health.

CP: What kind of impact did this year’s experience have on you personally?

HMA: I think that it impacted me in a way where I realized the confidence that I was suppressing for so long by like being insecure and like really underappreciated of myself and my own kind of, I don’t know, life, I suppose. Like, I just work and I’m very humble. And then I really exude this confidence after the pageant that I didn’t realize existed until now.

CP: So definitely an empowering experience. Will you participate in future pageants?

HMA: Yes, next year, we’re going to try again for Miss Alaska USA. And hopefully, we take home the title. But I mean, no pressure there! Just kind of really excited for the experience in itself. Again, it was just one of those things where I didn’t realize how fun it was until you get there and you’re around these women that are actually really trying to make a difference.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Miller-Austin competed in the Miss Alaska pageant. It was the Miss Alaska USA pageant.

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