Q&A: Meet Miss Hawaii 2015
Driven, inspired and confident: three words that describe Jeanne Kapela. The 20-year-old was crowned Miss Hawaii 2015 Saturday at the Hawaii Convention Center, after winning the swimsuit and talent competitions with a lyrical dance performance.
The talent portion was the most competitive I’ve seen in years, with Tahitian dance, strong vocalists, a karate movement performance, dance interpretations and more. Kapela’s extensive training in classical ballet and contemporary dance (she’s a former Rainbow Dancer) put her ahead of the rest.
I had a chance to chat with Jeanne (pronounced jah-nay) Kapela about her journey:
How long has it been a dream of yours to be Miss Hawaii?
Miss Hawaii has been my goal for the past couple of years now. I used to look up to Miss America and think becoming someone of such influence was out of my grasp, but slowly I realized that nothing is ever out of reach. It’s just up to us to make our dreams reality.
How has the process been getting to this point?
The process has been long, but really fun! I have grown so much in all aspects of my life. In 2014, I held the title of Miss Kona Coffee and placed second runner-up to Stephanie Steuri. No one likes to lose, so I came back as Miss Kakaako with a strong mindset. I worked on all of my weak areas, and stepped onstage feeling comfortable and knowing that I had done all I could to obtain the job of Miss Hawaii.
In the end, you can’t be so focused on the competition or the crown. You just have to focus on yourself and how you can utilize this title to springboard the rest of your life and serve your state.
Who has been your greatest influence?
My grandmother has been my greatest influence. She raised me and shaped my life. She spent countless hours sitting in the dance studio when I was younger so that I could take lessons, which paid off, since I was awarded the talent award.
Unfortunately we lost her to cancer right before the preliminary pageant, but before she passed I told her “Grandma, I promise you, we are going to walk across that Miss America stage together!” Now I get to fulfill that promise. What a blessing!
Tell me about your platform and why you chose it.
My platform is ‘Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking,’ something very close to my heart. I had a cousin who was trafficked here in Waikiki. Her story and pain are what got me involved in the anti-trafficking movement. I have since established the non-profit organization UNITE.
I am also heavily involved in victim-centered outreach and awareness for the state and am working on an education bill to present in the 2016 legislative session. I plan to study law at UH Manoa in the near future.
What is the most important value that you would like to share with youth who aspire to be Miss Hawaii?
If you aspire to be Miss Hawaii, just be you! Be confident and comfortable with who you are. There is no one value that will make you Miss Hawaii. You have to be well-rounded like the four points of the crown: service, success, scholarship and style.
First runner-up: Miss Paradise Kauai, Sarah Manuel (talent: Tahitian)
Second runner-up: Miss North Shore, Keala Patterson (talent: karate movement)
Third runner-up: Miss East Oahu, Hali’alani Parish (talent: vocal – piano “Halo”)
Fourth runner-up: Miss Kahala, Alexandra Roth (talent: vocal – “For Good” from “Wicked”)