By Jay Grelen
The moment Savvy Shields won the Miss America talent preliminary in Atlantic City on Wednesday, the Arkansas contingent was confident Miss Arkansas would win the crown.
But it wasn’t just her dance routine.
“We really felt like it all week,” says Rusty Hart, who is co-owner with his wife, Lori, of Applause, a Little Rock formal-wear shop. “Her demeanor. Her stage presence. Savvy has the kind of presence in which an interview is a gold mine.
“The defining moment was when she won the talent preliminary,” Mr. Hart said in a telephone interview from Atlantic City, where he and his wife, Lori, and their daughter, Meg, have been since Tuesday. “That was a signal that they really liked her. But every time she was on stage, she was magnificent.”
The Harts met Savvy last fall after she won Miss Heart of the Ozarks, the Miss Arkansas preliminary. Their shop, Applause, provides swim suits for the Miss Arkansas pageant.
“It’s just built to where we’ve become very good friends,” he says.
Shawn Yearick, a New York designer, worked with the Harts and Applause to design Miss Shields’ talent costume. Miss Shields’ reaction when she won the talent preliminary showed the Savvy everyone knows, Mr. Hart says.
“Her reaction was utter shock,” he says. “That was such a great moment. It just showed that she was so real. She didn’t come in expecting this.”
Miss Shields’ Arkansas support group of about 50 people included her parents, a grandmother and her boyfriend, Nate Wolf, a law student at Georgetown University.
“The only time we got to see her was immediately after the prelims every nigh,” Mr. Hart said. “We got to laugh together, hear her thoughts from the day. They keep them pretty well under lock and key.”
Miss Shields, a senior art major at the University of Arkansas, is the third Miss Arkansas to win the Miss America Crown. Donna Axum of El Dorado was Miss America in 1964 and Grace Elizabeth Ward of Cabot served in 1982.
Thanks to Polly Hearn posting your site. I was immediately interested in several of the news articles and hope to be a familiar viewer of AMP.