Sixteen-year-old resident Alyssa Miles has always felt comfortable in the spotlight. According to her mother Kim, even at a young age, Alyssa seemed to seek out the public eye. She can recall a particular instance at a town fair when 3-year-old Alyssa found her way up on a stage to sing with the act that was performing there.
“She got up there and I knew she had this passion for it,” said Kim.
This summer, Alyssa found herself in the spotlight yet again when she was named Miss New Jersey Runway. She followed that victory up by taking the top spot at the 2019 East Coast USA national pageant where she was crowned Miss East Coast USA National Ultimate Grand Supreme.
Alyssa competed against around 400 other girls who all had to showcase their abilities in a number of categories – an introduction portion, talent, fitness, runway, an interview with the judges and the contestant’s platform.
According to Alyssa, the interview portion, which many of the other contestants were nervous about, was where she felt most comfortable. In the short time she had to get to know the other girls at the pageant, she actually ended up making some new friends and tried to pass on some of her confidence to help them with their own interviews.
“I love talking to people so much. I know a lot of my friends were nervous for the interview so I got to help them backstage and talk to them before they went on,” said Alyssa.
Much of this confidence comes from years of practice performing in front of cameras and live audiences alike. Since she was a child, Alyssa has auditioned for and acted in plays, commercials, television shows and web shows.
In seventh grade, she landed a part in a web show that filmed in New York called “Dream Mining” and from there was picked up by Nickelodeon to appear in a series of shows for its YouTube channel. It ended up hiring her again to help host its annual TV special, the Nickelodeon Halo Awards, where she interviewed performers before they took the stage.
With all of the exposure, Alyssa says she is occasionally recognized in public and has become something of a role model to younger children in her school district. She is heading into her junior year at Cherokee, and otherwise lives a normal teenage life.
“My friends are just my friends and they’re not in it because of whatever thing I’ve won or whatever I’ve been in,” said Alyssa.
In addition to showcasing her ability to perform in front of an audience, the pageant allowed Alyssa to speak about issues that are important to her. During the platform portion, Alyssa talked about her work with the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. She was diagnosed with IBS in the fourth grade and has worked with the organization for the past few years, sharing her story with doctors and physicians and acting on their patient advisory board.
Her victory at the national competition came with a scholarship and a Disney cruise. Alyssa says her mind was reeling when they announced her as the winner.
“When I took my final walk I was just thinking in my head I am so beyond grateful right now, the fact that all this just happened,” said Alyssa.
“She’s excited about the year’s worth of appearances and charity work that she’ll get to do,” said Kim.
When she graduates, Alyssa will be putting most of her scholarship money toward earning a degree in broadcasting with a focus on entertainment. She ultimately dreams of performing on Broadway or in movies but is also interested in helping young people with special needs using music therapy.
Given how much she has already accomplished at such a young age, it seems like the sky’s the limit for Alyssa, so keep an eye out and remember the name, someday you may be watching someone from your hometown up on the big screen.