Ansley Lyons first got involved in beauty pageants five years ago because a girl she knew when she was younger who later passed away from cancer had loved the pastime. The girl’s mother held a benefit pageant in her honor, and Lyons and her parents wanted to get involved and help out in any way they could.
After only one pageant, Lyons fell in love herself.
“One thing led to another, and in the pageant world, we refer to it as we got bit by the bug,” Lyons said. “So we just continued doing pageants after that.”
The 16-year-old Alliance Academy student said that she has been involved in pageants for years, working tirelessly with coaches and seamstresses to pull out wins for awards in local, state, national and even international pageants.
This past week, she finally met her goal of winning the Sr. Super Model title at the 2020 Miss Reigning America Scholarship Pageant held in Marietta, taking home the national crown along with seven other awards.
Lyons said that this was her second try at the national title, but when she competed last year, she ended up not placing. After the loss, she and her mother were determined to work harder on her wardrobe and interview preparation to pull out a win for the next year.
“I had spent months and months and months preparing with my interview coaches, with my walking coaches, with my alteration ladies,” Lyons said. “I’ve spent hours rhinestoning. So when they called my name, it’s like all the hard work had paid off and that other people could see that I tried even harder this year to come back, and it worked.”
She said that because of the worldwide pandemic, however, preparing for the pageant was a much different process than ever before.
“The whole world has been flipped upside down,” Lyons said. “It’s been a little different getting ready for this summer because I was home all day, so I did school work for about two hours in the morning and then I took maybe three hours in the afternoon to go to a coach’s house to work on walking or Skype with my coaches to do interview practice. And then 90% of the time, I would do my stuff that I was responsible for like the rhinestoning of all of my outfits — I would do until like 1-2 in the morning so that I could spend the day doing what I needed to do with other people.”
On top of Lyon’s title, she also won social media, community service, miss congeniality, national photogenic, national portfolio, actress and national top model awards.
On top of her dedication to school and to pageantry, Lyons also spends much of her time volunteering — stacking up more than 700 volunteer hours.
Before even starting out in pageants, Lyons said that she started to volunteer with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Her aunt had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and Lyons and her family wanted to get involved to try to help to eventually find a cure and to show support.
After also getting involved in pageants, Lyons said that she kept finding and getting to know other organizations that needed help. She found out quickly that she loves to volunteer, and she started helping out wherever she could.
She started to help out teachers at Cumming Dance Academy, where she is also a student, to assist in tap classes and with classroom management. She also started to volunteer with different schools in the area — Matt Elementary, Liberty Middle, DeSana Middle, along with Alliance Academy — to help organize staff events and work with administrators.
Lyons said that she has also loved volunteering with organizations such as Meals by Grace and Bags of Love to provide food to families in need in the community over the summer.
“I love delivering the lunches and seeing the families’ and kids’ faces and knowing that they will have food for that upcoming week or month or whatever box we’re delivering at that point,” Lyons said.
As she keeps volunteering, she said that other organizations keep reaching out to her for extra help, and she plans to continue to help out whenever and wherever the community needs it.
“So I mean, I’ve done it all basically,” Lyons said.
Aside from getting to know other organizations and finding more opportunities to volunteer her time to the community, Lyons said that pageants have been a source of fun, friends and community for Lyons and her family, and although she puts hours upon hours of work into preparation for a pageant, she loves committing her time to the activity.
“It’s a lot of hard work to jump into all of these different roles and different events, so just seeing the end result of all of that hard work paying off is one of my favorite things,” Lyons said.