Archives For Savvy Shields

The new Miss America may still be growing accustomed to her crown and sash, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t already plotting out her life post-reign.

“From there I’m going to go to law school, so I’m going to use the scholarship dollars I earned through Miss America – which is actually over $45,000 prior to winning (Miss America),” Cara Mund told me as we stood atop the Empire State Building. “So I’ll be out of student debt, I’ll be able to go to law school and hopefully run for office one day.”

However before that, Mund faces a whirlwind year that will push her to every corner of the U.S. as a motivational speaker, ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and public figure; her deal as the new Miss America includes a six-figure salary and an appearance contract with dick clark productions, which produced the competition telecast in addition to “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” the “American Music Awards” and the “Billboard Music Awards.”

“I think each Miss America makes the year her own,” Mund responded when I asked if she had a chance to receive any tips or guidance from previous crown-holders on what’s in store. “And so while they can give me tips, they’re going to help me figure it out along my way too.”

Mund is the first contestant from her state to crack the Top 5, let alone win it all. The Bismark, North Dakota native graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island and interned for Sen. John Hoeven in Washington D.C. The new Miss America’s resume also includes four summers of training courses with the Radio City Rockettes.

“It was right at Radio City Music Hall and it was (The Rockettes’) summer intensive,” Mund explained. “So I did it for four years, I was getting ready to audition. Didn’t work out because I was too short but I ended up going to Brown instead so it was a good tradeoff.”

She was also able to use some of the skills learned with The Rockettes on the Miss America stage, so suffice to say, everything happened for a reason.

When I think back to the Miss America red carpet earlier this month at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, a number of moments and interactions immediately come to mind…

– This was my third consecutive year covering arrivals and the carpet was in a new location within the hall; a floor I didn’t even know existed let alone had visited!

– The obligatory red carpet photo.

– Chatting with Normani Kordei of Fifth Harmony, which was a complete surprise. She was the last person I spoke with there and was in attendance because she is good friends with Miss Texas, Margana Wood. Kordei was once a Miss Teen Texas in the Miss America Organization.


– Sage Steele, one of the co-hosts, was there on the first NFL Sunday of the season. The next morning she was scheduled to co-host SportsCenter AM. Seemed like quite the feat.


– Her co-host for the program was the venerable Chris Harrison, who doesn’t seem to mind people bugging him about “Bachelor” drama and gossip.


– Sam Haskell is Chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization. I remembered after Savvy Shields won last year; in the subsequent press conference he mentioned how happy MAO was with the pick. This year, I was sure to ask Haskell how exactly he is able to get to know every contestant ahead of time.


– Speaking of Savvy – what’s next for the outgoing Miss America?


– Country music superstar Thomas Rhett was one of the celebrity judges tasked with picking her replacement.


– And Miss North Dakota’s contingent erupted when Cara Mund was crowned Miss America 2018 inside Boardwalk Hall.

On Sunday I covered my fifth consecutive Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. I also acted as the on-stage warm-up act, hyping and prompting the crowd before the show and during commercial breaks, for my fourth year. Here are some news and notes from my perspective both on the Magenta Carpet and backstage.

– Any artist that actually stopped and did media on the carpet should get some type of award. The temperatures outside T-Mobile Arena were near triple digits. It was so hot outside that inside they actually blasted the air conditioning during rehearsals. Perhaps it was a nice way to test how cold the venue can become ahead of it receiving an NHL franchise?

– I brought a change of dress shirts to account for the weather. Almost everything I wore in both outfits came from my favorite designer, John Varvatos. The tuxedo pants were H&M and my flower and pocket square were both from TheTieBar.com.

– I’d hate to say I called it but… I called it. Celine Dion stole the show at the BBMAs. I had chills listening to 18,000 inside T-Mobile Arena sing-a-long to “My heart Will Go On.” Celine is beloved as an icon, her voice is still impeccable, the movie is adored and the song as of late has gained new life as a meme of sorts. It was one my second-favorite moment from Sunday night.

– Great running in to Dan Kanter backstage. I first met Dan in 2009 inside The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton; at the time he was playing guitar for this new artist… maybe you’ve heard of him… Justin Bieber? Kanter is Bieber’s musical director and assumed similar duties for Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues” – which I was a big fan of.

– That Rachel Platten “La La Land” adlib was just that – it was not in the teleprompter. I got a kick out of it.

– Something I really loved about this year’s show is that the stars really seemed to be enjoying themselves. You had Young Money – Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake – front and center both literally and figuratively for the entire show. Instead of acting too cool for the room they decided to simply join in on the party. With Drake setting the new single-night record for awards, they had plenty to celebrate.

– One of my favorite backstage moments came when BK and Tyler from Florida Georgia Line walked off stage after accepting the BBMA for “Top Country Song.” The duo embraced, let out a Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and said to each other, “Man that never gets old!” Nice to see a genuine moment of gratitude between the two.

– Another cool backstage interaction involved Diddy, who was about to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and reveal the trailer for the new Bad Boy movie “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The Chainsmokers were walking off the stage after accepting another award and Puff gave them a standing O before chatting with Alex and Drew for a few minutes. That’d be a fun collaboration right?

– Give credit to Vanessa Hudgens for holding her own on national TV and to Ludacris for once again making the whole hosting gig appear way easier than it actually is.

– Some other familiar faces that said hello backstage: Chris Daughtry, Miss America Savvy Shields, Mark Cuban and Hailee Steinfeld.

– I mentioned my second-favorite moment but not the one that tops the list. That honor belongs to my Mom. She was in the crowd cheering on her son while putting the video camera on her new-er iPhone to good use. I am thankful I was able to share the night with her.

Sure some women grow up with the dream of one day becoming Miss America – but how many of them also envision the crown’s travel schedule, which involves a different state every 48 hours?

“I live in airports and in hotels out of my suitcase,” the current titleholder, Savvy Shields, told me on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The two of us chatted for a few minutes on the third floor of the Good Morning America building after her TV appearance. “It’s been good. I don’t really remember much of it so that’s why I’m trying to journal and if I look at my social media then I remember everything I did.”

The journal idea was something Shields, who represented the state of Arkansas in last year’s competition, mentioned to me when we chatted the day after she won. Since that interview, the 21 year-old hasn’t sat still, but has experienced some cool moments including a trip to the American Music Awards where she joined Florida-Georgia Line on stage.

“(B.K. and Tyler) were fantastic,” she noted. “I mean, we’re southern people so we get along right away.”

With Shields’ personality, it’s hard to envision her not getting along with anyone, nor is it a stretch to think that she’s now getting recognized throughout these travels.

“I’ve gotten a lot of ‘Are you on TV?’” she said. “So it’s like, they know who I am, but it’s not until I have the crown on that they put two-and-two together.”

And contrary to popular belief, Shields isn’t always wearing the crown. Matter of fact, it wasn’t on her head at the AMAs; that and her new hair style that night which featured bangs lead yours truly to not recognize the titleholder, an occurance Shields did not let me forget during our interview. However she also joked that there is another time when people don’t realize she’s Miss America.

“If it’s an ‘airport day,’ they don’t really believe me,” Shields said. “So I mean it really depends!”

There are certainly more “airport days” on her docket, but also some once-in-a-lifetime destinations such as the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards, both of which take place this spring. “Miss America” is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which also handles all of the aforementioned award shows along with “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” another show that Shields participated in. The Arkansas-native didn’t seem to mind the December climate in New York too much.

“Maybe it’s everyone dancing that’s making it not as cold?” she wondering out loud. “I was expecting to be layered in like 7 parkas but I’m actually just down to one so we’re good to go.”

Hopefully for Shields that meant not having to pack or travel with as much; right after witnessing the ball drop she skipped the champagne toast and received an escort out of Times Square to grab a head start on the next part of her never-ending itinerary. Although I’m sure at this point, she couldn’t envision her night any other way.

Imagine standing in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Now picture that you’re live on the radio. And add in the fact that you have no producer, no intern, no assistant… no one. Well, no one to help you; there are obviously plenty of (read: a million) people surrounding you.

Welcome to my New Year’s Eve broadcast in Times Square on 95.5 PLJ. This was the third straight year that I had the honor of hosting the show and the second consecutive broadcast where we partnered with Dick Clark Productions so that I had space inside ABC’s Good Morning America studio. Thanks to our friends at Times Square Alliance, I had full-run of the “Center of the Universe” as well; I spent my evening literally running between the third floor of the GMA studio (without using the elevator mind you) and the crowd with stops in between to interview DNCE, Miss America, Gavin DeGraw and a few revelers.

But even as I managed to book, edit, produce and host the show, there were some difficulties simply out of my control. No my in-ear monitors didn’t go out, rather our entire wireless broadcast system went down. So as the clock struck midnight and the 11,800 pound crystal ball completed its descent, I dialed in to the studio to ring in 2017 over the phone.

When you’re live in a setting like Times Square for New Year’s, these are issues that you actually can prepare for; you simply create backup plans for everything because anything can go wrong. Over the 7 hours I spent in the Theater District I dealt with a broken audio recorder, a late interview and faulty internet connections on top of everything else you would normally expect: heightened security, large crowds and the weather.

Although the temperature hovered around a balmy 40 so that wasn’t awful, but I digress.

It’s stressful but in the moment, a lot of fun. At any moment I’m in a hotel suite with Joe Jonas, editing audio on my laptop, talking with a couple from the Philippines who is visiting the city for their first time or simply pausing to take it all in. Because despite all of the difficulties that I encounter with the show, I still couldn’t imagine spending my New Year’s Eve any other way.



A new Miss America was crowned on Sunday night in Atlantic City, although you can count her in the court of Queen Beyonce.

“Oh, I’m a dancer,” Savvy Shields, a 21 year-old entered the competition as Miss Arkansas, replied when I asked her about her obsession with the “Formation” singer. “Every single dancer’s dream is to be a backup dancer for Beyonce.”

And Shields knows a thing or two about dreaming big and watching that dream become reality, as it did for her a few nights ago at Boardwalk Hall.

“Ever since I was eight years-old and I watched my first Miss America pageant,” the University of Arkansas senior revealed. She’ll continue school after completing her reign with the crown. “I think my mom goes, ‘The southern states always do well.’ That’s my first memory of the Miss America pageant!”

It’s true; I’ve likened southern states’ passion for pageantry to their love for college football, a comparison Shields agreed with.
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“Pageants are a big deal (in the south),” she said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to whenever I’m traveling the country get to see how pageants are in different regions.”

At the moment, Shields is spending her time in the northeast. I caught her in the middle of a whirlwind media tour in New York City that included “Good Morning America,” “Live With Kelly,” “CNN” and a number of other media outlets.

“My first journal entry was (Monday) night,” Shields said, noting that she is trying to jot down memories on a nightly basis. “I wrote down the very first day of Miss America and what that means.”

Some other fun facts about the new titleholder: she loves lipstick (“I have about five in my purse and six in my makeup box”), enjoys people (a job prerequisite) and knits, as in scarves.

“I taught myself when I was around 13 years-old how to knit on YouTube,” she explained while also inadvertently yet perfectly encompassing the idea of Miss America (this was the organization’s 96th pageant) in the 21st century. “Every winter I’ll whip out my knitting needles and I will knit scarves for all my friends.”

Shields once tried to make a hat with her knitting skills, but wasn’t impressed with the final product.

“It didn’t turn out that well. It was more like a sock.”

Thankfully for Shields, she has her headgear planned out for at least the next year anyways.