Miss Southeastern sets sights on Miss Louisiana

Miss Southeastern 2013 Reneé Picou has begun her preparations for the 2013 Miss Louisiana pageant in Monroe, where she will compete for the crown and title against 35 other contestants.

The Miss Louisiana Pageant begins Wednesday, June 26 and will be broadcast live form 8 to 10 p.m. central time on WUPL, Ch. 54 (New Orleans); KLFY, Ch. 10 (Lafayette, Lake Charles); KNOE, Ch. 8 (Monroe); KLAX, Ch. 31 (Alexandria); WBTR, Ch. 41 (Baton Rouge); KPXJ, Ch. 21 (Shreveport) and KWBJ, Ch. 39 (Morgan City, Thibodaux, Houma). The pageant will conclude, and the winner crowned, on Saturday, June 29.

Before departing for Monroe last Sunday, Picou showcased her outfits and talent routine in front of an audience of her supporters during the Miss Southeastern Trunk Show. While the performance provides practice for Picou before the actual competition, it also provided her with the opportunity to receive feedback and encouragement from her supporters.

For Picou, the pressure that comes with competition hasn’t sunk in yet.

“I know when I go up to Monroe Sunday, I’m going to get butterflies and be very nervous,” she said. “But now I feel vey prepared, I’ve been preparing since school let out. I’ve hit it everyday and I feel ready to go and compete and give it my best shot.”

Preparing for the Miss Louisiana pageant has been a long process and is different from what Picou is used to.  However, she’s relishing the opportunity to hone her outfits and her tap dance routine for the talent portion of the competition.

“I found out that there are no other tap dancers this year, so that gives me a step ahead,” Picou said. “It’s something that’s really upbeat; a lot of the girls sing or perform lyrical dances but tap is totally different from those.”

Picou’s talent routine taps into the spirit and energy of Mardi Gras as she dances to Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” while wearing an outfit purple, green and gold embellished with fleur de lis.

While she’s confident in her talent routine, Picou is very proud of her outfit selection for the competition.

“I love them,” she said. “I definitely spent enough money on them but I really, really like them. I feel good to go with them.”

Including her Mardi Gras costume, Picou has five outfits for the competition, each corresponding with the different segments of the pageant: opening number, interview, swimsuit, talent and eveningwear.

While the opening number is not a part of the competition, it is the first contact between the contestants and the judges.  For this, Picou will wear white pants, “black, strappy shoes” and a Miss Louisiana provided shirt designed by Judy P apparel.

The interview is the first phase of the competition. Picou will wear a red shift by Calvin Klein with ruffled detail on the left shoulder. For the swimsuit portion of competition, Picou will wear a white two-piece Lady M swimsuit with rhinestone hoops to show off her physical fitness.  For the on-stage question phase, Picou will wear a Sheri Hill sea foam bandage cocktail dress with a centered broach.

The final phase of the competition after talent is the eveningwear competition. For this, Picou will be wearing a custom-made gown by Sherri Hill. The cobalt-blue gown is gathered at the bodice with accents of Swarovski rhinestone banded trim, which runs from across the bodice to a high slit.

Another strength for Picou, who is a junior majoring in biology, is her philanthropy work for the American Cancer Society. Also, Picou has contributed over $5,000 to the Miss America Children’s Miracle Network philanthropy. Balancing her philanthropic work, Miss Southeastern and class responsibilities was not easy at first; but Picou eventually got the hang of it.

“It was difficult, but I did a lot of my events after school ended,” she said. “For about a month and a half I had time to plan events or get them started. I had some tough chemistry classes this semester, so as soon as I was finished with those I could focus on my philanthropy.”

If Picou takes the crown at Miss Louisiana, she will have only a short time to prepare for Miss America; but for the time being she’s keeping her eyes on the prize, not on the horizon.

“It’s only two months after Miss Louisiana, so you pretty much already have to be well-rounded, so I’ll be working really hard on my talent routine, interview skills and supporting my own philanthropy,” said Picou. “But that is a long way off right now; I just want to do well at miss Louisiana.”