Apr 05, 2016 04:37PM
● By Dia
By Audrey Sellers
Holly Morgan distinctly remembers the moment she knew she wanted to be a beauty queen. She was six years old and folding clothes with her mom while they watched a pageant on TV. As contestants strutted across the stage in their bejeweled gowns, she looked up and said: “I want to be that.”
She’s certainly well on her way. Last October, Morgan was crowned Miss Southlake, and this summer she’ll compete to win the title of Miss Texas at the 81st Miss Texas Scholarship Competition. The winner will go on to represent our state in the Miss America pageant, which is exactly where the 18-year-old Carroll senior hopes to be one day. “I don’t know if it will be next year or years from now, but I want to be Miss America,” she says.
Morgan is one of the approximately 2.5 million girls who compete in more than 100,000 beauty pageants each year in the United States, according to Statistic Brain. She began competing in pageants about five years ago, and last year she was the first runner-up for Miss Texas Outstanding Teen. It’s not the glitzy dresses or the glamour of the crown that she loves about pageant life; it’s the people she meets along the way.
“My favorite part of the job is seeing all of the smiles,” she says. “I love talking to anyone, no matter their age, and I could not be more humbled to represent such an incredible community.”
Life as Miss Southlake
Morgan’s platform as Miss Southlake is titled “Beautiful You: Shining From the Inside Out.” She visits schools, clubs and organizations locally and throughout the state, discussing the importance of embracing one’s individuality. You may have seen her around town, adorned in her sash and crown, at school and city events such as the homecoming parade and Breakfast with Santa.
Morgan also connects with the community outside the public forum. She offers appearances at little girls’ birthday parties, bringing a bit of the Miss Southlake magic to the day. Wearing a full ball gown, she’ll celebrate with the birthday girl and friends with activities ranging from tea parties to princess games.
“I strive to help people of all ages love themselves for who they are,” she says. “We were not meant to be the same, and we should love the things that make us unique.”
Morgan is so passionate about helping people feel confident in their own skin that she wrote a book on it. Called Beautiful You, her book explores topics ranging from how to get into a healthy mindset to recipes for healthy living. For now, she hands out copies at her community appearances, but she’s hopeful the book will be offered on Amazon soon.
Not many high-school students (or adults for that matter) have a published book to their name. It wasn’t anything Morgan set out to do; it just sort of happened. “I was never much of a writing type,” she admits. “But when I was thinking of all the things I wanted to present in class, I started typing and then kept going. It’s actually been a great way for me to share with people without having to talk for hours.”
For someone who has a lot to say on the topic of uniqueness, it’s not surprising that Morgan models her own message. Not only is she a beauty queen who wrote a book, but she’s also a drummer, ice skater, surfer and runner. She’s not trying to conform to any particular mold—she’s proudly (and quite successfully) doing her own thing.
“I never want to leave this world thinking I could have done more,” she says. “I do most of the things I do because I listen to my heart.”
More Than Just a Pretty Face
At an age when most children are doodling with crayons, Morgan was learning to make music on the drums. She picked up her first set of drumsticks at age two and has been feeling the beat ever since. Her father, Roger, who’s also a drum enthusiast, taught her to play. And when Morgan began thinking of an uncommon talent she could showcase at pageants, she knew it had to be drumming.
“I wanted to do something that stood out and not everybody was doing,” she says. “I decided I could come up with something on the drums. My dad is helping me. He’s the best coach I could ask for.”
Drumming is Morgan’s official pageant talent, but it’s definitely not the only skill she rocks. Before she entered the world of beauty pageants, Morgan was a talented ice skater. She took to the ice at eight years old, eventually skating competitively and accruing a dozen gold medals. But after five years of fine-tuning her moves on the ice, Morgan decided to hang up her skates—competitively, at least.
“I wanted to ice skate more as a hobby,” she says. “It was fun, and I learned hard work at a young age.”
Where there’s ice, there’s water. And for Morgan, the best kind of water is the kind with crashing
waves. She’s a Texan who surfs, and although Southlake is hundreds of miles from any surf-worthy beach, Morgan immerses herself in the sport whenever she gets the chance. She and her dad travel to California a few times each year to ride the waves. It took her about a week to get up on the board, and then she was hooked. She even has dreams of becoming a professional surfer one day.
“I love surfing so much. I feel like I’m half mermaid,” she gushes. “It’s a stress reliever for me.”
With the Miss Texas pageant only a couple months away, Morgan is sticking to dry land. These days, she shops when she feels stressed, and she recently started baking whenever she has spare time. “That’s a new hobby I’m trying to prepare myself for college,” she says.
Morgan commits to exercising regularly (maybe to balance all the baking she’s been doing) and hits the pavement almost daily. “It’s crazy, but I love to run,” she says. She also reads and watches the news to stay educated on current events. Oh, and don’t forget Morgan is a senior set to graduate in June. When asked how she manages it all, she credits her organizational skills, which interestingly, are rather old-school. “I have to write stuff in my calendar or I forget about it,” she admits.
The upcoming pageant isn’t just Morgan’s shot at the crown; her younger sister, Katie, is competing for the title of Miss Texas Outstanding Teen. The 14-year-old was crowned Miss Grapevine’s Outstanding Teen on the same day that Morgan was crowned Miss Southlake. And now these sisters are out to conquer Texas … together.
Morgan wouldn’t have it any other way. She says, “It has been so fun getting to share this experience with Katie. I know I have learned and grown tremendously, and I am so excited for her wonderful journey to come. I am extremely proud of her.”
Some of the wisdom she hopes to impart to her sister wasn’t gleaned at a pageant, but at a pop concert. Morgan remembers Taylor Swift telling the crowd at a concert that she was bullied every day in middle school and high school. “But now look at her. She’s one of the most famous singers out there,” Morgan says. “People will try to bring you down and tell you you’re not good enough, but don’t let that stop you. Reach for your dreams and never give up.”
Whatever unfolds at the Miss Texas pageant this summer and at pageants to come, there’s one thing we know for sure: Morgan isn’t afraid to dream big. We first acknowledged her ambition when we spotlighted her as one of our Tastemakers in the April 2014 edition of Southlake Style. Even then, she knew she wanted to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School and take an entrepreneurial path, one day opening her own wedding planning business.
Morgan also has big aspirations for motherhood down the line, envisioning a bustling family life with a houseful of kids. “I want to be a mom of 10 kids. Yes, that’s right—10,” she laughs. “I love kids more than anything in this world, and I hope to be able to adopt many children, as well as have some of my own.”
Whoever said beauty is only skin deep hasn’t met Holly Morgan. This pageant queen has a heart as big as her personal ambitions. “I hope to leave a legacy that being yourself is the most beautiful thing one could ever be,” she says. It’s indeed a lovely wish from a lovely person, inside and out.
Five Things About Holly
I want to travel to … Australia
Something that makes me smile … kids
I want to do more … for others
My theme song would be … “Sweet Serendipity” by Lee DeWyze
I couldn’t live longer than a day without … my Bible