Hear ye, hear ye, make way for the newly crowned Miss New Jersey Princess, 6-year-old Emily Ewig.
Out of 70 girls competing in her division of the National American Miss New Jersey pageant, Lawrence resident Ewig won the coveted title. It was Ewig’s second-ever pageant. According to mother Sara Leta, Ewig was surprised herself.
“The way she tells it, she says, ‘You know, they didn’t call my name for the last one before the winner, and I wasn’t sure, but then they called it, and I really really won!’” Leta said.
National American Miss holds pageants in most of the continental United States for girls ages 4 through 18 in five different age divisions. The New Jersey pageant was held at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick on Aug. 13.
According to the organization, emphasis is placed on inner beauty, the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition, and setting and achieving personal goals. The pageant includes four mandatory categories (Formal Wear, Personal Introduction, Interview, and Community Involvement) and optional contests as well, of which Ewig competed in three: Casual Wear, Photogenic and Talent.
Her sponsors included her parents, her grandfather Ernest Leta, Dara Cohen Photography, and her stylist Casey Marcinkiewicz from Sydney Albert Salon. Since then, her sponsorship has grown to include KEEP Collective consultant Jacklyn Kerrigan and family friends Carlos and Maria Riveria, Viki and Dan Hansen-Landis, and the Mujica family.
Ewig—a first-grader at Littlebrook Elementary School, where her mom works—now has the chance to compete in Nationals, held during Thanksgiving week at Disneyland in California, where she will face off against 40 to 50 girls from almost every state.
Leta and Ewig’s father, Fred Ewig, first received information about National American Miss through the mail over a year ago. When Ewig declared that she enjoyed performing and being in front of an audience, the family decided to give it a shot. She loved the experience so much that they participated again this year.
“The NAM is all about building confidence, poise, and grace, and I see (Emily) building that every time she enters a pageant,” Leta said. “She just becomes more confident in who she is.”
NAM stresses its volunteer service component, which has inspired Ewig’s parents to find volunteer opportunities for their daughter. Ewig currently reads to children at her old nursery school once a month, which is something she regularly does at home with her siblings. After a fellow kindergarten classmate was diagnosed with leukemia last year and her school hosted an Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Emily has been involved in pediatric cancer awareness and is hoping to organize her own Alex’s Lemonade Stand in the future with her parents’ help.
Ewig’s newest volunteer interest is in children with special needs. During the pageant, she made friends with a fellow contestant who was autistic. Ewig guided her in learning certain sequences during rehearsal and regularly checked in with the girl to see how she was doing during the hectic pageant weekend. Ewig now hopes to volunteer with the program for special needs children at Schafer Sports Center, where she already practices gymnastics.
Ewig’s parents were not the only ones who helped her to prepare for the pageant. Ewig also practiced her introduction and modeling in front of her younger twin siblings, Ryan and Rebecca, who are 3 years old and have taken to copying their older sister’s performing with gusto.
“We call it her little fan club,” Leta said with a laugh.
Leta says it will be up to Ewig to decide whether to compete in more pageants in the coming years.
“As long as she continues to be happy, (she can do it),” she said.
Ewig and her family live in Lawrence Township. Leta is a social worker at Riverside and Littlebrook Elementary schools in Princeton. She is originally from Lacey Township on the Jersey Shore. Fred is originally from South Orange and works for the Gazelle Group in Princeton.