Westmoore Alum Overcomes Rejection, Doubt to Compete in Miss Oklahoma PageantJun 06, 2019
Rejection, failure, and tragedy are painful teachers. Westmoore alum Mackenzie McIntyre has experienced those things in the most challenging of ways, emerging on the other side with a story of hope and redemption that should serve as an encouragement to many.
McIntyre, the reigning Miss Bricktown, will be competing in the Miss Oklahoma Pageant in June. It’s her second time to compete in the statewide pageant, which is part of the Miss America competition. To get there, McIntyre had to find her way through the darkest moments anyone can face.
“During my sophomore year of high school, I actually caused a really horrible car accident,” said McIntyre. “It injured myself and the other party involved.”
McIntyre said she was doing most everything right when the accident happened. She was paying attention, not texting, and didn’t have the music turned up loud in her car. It was just one of those moments that happen to people. And the long recovery after the accident led to a dark place.
“It ended with me contemplating suicide,” said McIntyre. “Fortunately, someone shared their story with me, and it was a very similar story. That was what helped me pull myself out of that mindset and out of that darkness only because.”
As dark as that experience was, McIntyre’s sophomore year at Westmoore also featured a sublime experience of awakening, one that helped set her on the path she’s been following since. McIntyre had always loved singing, even participating as a worship leader at the church she attended with her family. During her sophomore year, her mother found an advertisement about tryouts for the musical “Footloose” at the Artworks Academy of Performing Arts in Norman.
“I had no formal training, no voice coach or teacher, no acting background,” said McIntyre, “But somehow I ended up getting the lead role of Ariel. I honestly had no idea what I was doing.”
As dark as the car accident was for McIntyre, performing in a stage musical opened up a new world for the then Westmoore sophomore.
“It was the first time in my life where I felt like I’d found my place,” said McIntyre. “I was always one of those people who did a lot of things pretty well, like cheer, cross country, and gymnastics. But this was really the first time that I felt that I’d found something I could be really great at.”
McIntyre plunged into the performance world, doing musicals at Westmoore and community theater around the metro Oklahoma City area. As high school ended, she decided to pursue her dream at Oklahoma City University’s prestigious musical theater program. That’s where she ran into a brutal, painful brick wall.
“I didn’t get into the program,” said McIntyre. “I was rejected. In fact, I was rejected by every school I auditioned for.”
As badly as the rejections hurt, McIntyre decided to enroll at OCU as a general music major. That decision made for a challenging freshman year.
“I’m not gonna lie,” said McIntyre. “It sucked dreadfully because as a general music major you’re not allowed to perform like the other music theater majors were. That was so hard for me, and I struggled really deeply with the idea that I wasn’t good enough.”
The turning point was when McIntyre decided to make that her motivational fuel.
“I think I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life and harder than anybody else around me,” said McIntyre. “I came back and auditioned after my freshman year and got in.”
Not only did McIntyre fight her way into the musical theater program at OCU, but she also discovered the Miss OCU Pageant. McIntyre said the pageant life wasn’t something she’d ever been interested in or even thought about, but when she learned the winner received a full scholarship for a year, her interest level went through the roof.
“OCU is expensive,” said McIntyre, “And this opportunity felt just too good to pass up, so I went out, bought a dress and entered the pageant.”
McIntyre didn’t win the pageant. She didn’t even finish as first runner-up. She did nab the second runner-up and Miss Congeniality titles, but more importantly, she felt the familiar spark of “home” on the pageant stage.
“I fell in love with the pageant and especially the other people who were in it,” said McIntyre. “These were women who were so strong, intelligent, and highly-motivated, and I wanted to be like them.”
McIntyre did win her second pageant, Miss Queen of the West in Elk City. That led to a spot in the 2018 Miss Oklahoma Pageant. She said that the experience was nearly overwhelming, but one of the most positive things she has done, challenging her to set her goals and standards even higher.
“There’s this stereotype about pageants that the women are shallow,” said McIntyre. “But I was there with all these women who own businesses, who are putting themselves through law and medical school and are paying for this expensive competition on their own. The experience of being around such high-caliber women has encouraged me to reach even higher in my own life.”
Part of reaching higher for McIntyre means helping others who have struggled with the darkness in their lives. She has chosen suicide prevention as her social impact issue for the Miss Oklahoma pageant.
“It’s staggering how the pressures and standards of society impact the mental health of the people of my generation,” said McIntyre. “Suicide is actually the second leading cause of death of people between 15 and 24. I want to encourage people to reach out to others and talk about their struggles, which is what helped me pull through when I wrestled with those thoughts.”
McIntyre also said her Christian faith is a strong foundation for her as she attempts to navigate the world of pageants and stage performance. It’s an important message she hopes everyone will embrace.
“I do my best to make my decisions through the lens that God would want me to use,” said McIntyre. “One of the biggest things about that is realizing that I’ve been blessed with such a great leg up in my life. I have a loving and supportive family, a chance to pursue a great education and so many other advantages that so many others don’t have. I think it’s my responsibility to help those people in any way I can.”
As she prepares for the Miss Oklahoma Pageant, McIntyre also wanted to give a shout-out to the Moore Public School system. She said she’s grateful for everything she learned as a graduate of Moore Public Schools.
“I owe so much of where I am to public education in Oklahoma,” said McIntyre. “My mom is a former teacher, and so many of the people who had such a great impact on my life are teachers. I really hope our legislature and community find ways to provide for our public schools and teachers, who make such a huge difference in all our lives.”
The Miss Oklahoma Pageant takes place June 4 – 8 at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa.