Andrea Martinez is on a winning streak, and she’s not planning on losing steam anytime soon. Her down-to-earth personality is infectious and charming, but our 23-year-old Miss Nevada is determined to use her title to illuminate social and political concerns with real solutions. I sat down and chatted about her whirlwind experience - or lack thereof - in the world of pageants, and why this opportunity is so important to her:
You are brand new to pageant competitions? When did you start?
Yes! I competed for the first time this year - won my first title as Miss Clark County in January, then I won Miss Nevada in June, and now I’m going to Miss America in September!
Since this is so new to you, what’s been the most challenging and fulfilling part of this experience?
Getting used to how busy my schedule is! I don’t think I fully grasped how much work goes into this. It gives me a great respect for all the women who’ve served before me. The most fulfilling aspect is getting out and engaging with my community. You make someone’s day by talking to people and getting to know them, and I love that more than I even knew I would!
Your platform, PACT: Police and Communities Together, is progressive and relevant in today’s political conversation. What’s your personal attachment to your platform, and its importance to the state of Nevada as well as the entire country?
It began with my criminal justice degree, as a lot of my professors were police officers. I got to hear a different perspective, (and) began seeing how there can be a disconnect between officers and the communities they serve. It struck me as the source of the issues we see today – there isn’t a relationship, understanding, or open line of communication within a majority of the nation’s communities.
I wanted to know if Las Vegas was doing anything to combat issues similar to those we see in the news. I found the Office of Engagement Program here, which is AMAZING! I asked myself, “Why don’t we see the uproar here (in Las Vegas) that we see in other places”, and it’s because they’ve been proactive. (The officers are) building relationships and going out into the community, and letting people know that they care. They’ve gone the extra mile.
I want to implement a program into high schools, with the help of our officers. We need to go into schools and educate young people on how to properly engage with police officers, shedding light on what’s legal and what isn’t. Then, they gain a greater understanding of actual policies and procedures, rather than depending on Twitter, Facebook, or rumors as their instructors.
One can’t just say, “all police are bad!” because your city/state may operate very differently that another city. Additionally, the use-of-force policy varies between communities. I believe that if every city had an Office of Community Engagement, like we have here, the officers would be able to interact with their communities in a much more impactful and positive way.
How did you get into the pageant competition in the first place? What inspired you to take the leap of faith?
My dad was flipping through the channels last year, and we came across the Miss America pageant. He thought I should try it. I said, “Dad what are you talking about I’m an athlete - you know that.” But, I started asking my friends and they said, “you know what, Drea? You should just go for it…you have nothing to lose!”
So, I prayed about it and did some research. Once I discovered that it was a scholarship organization and had a strong pillar of community service, I was convinced it be a great opportunity.
What’s your favorite family memory from childhood and now?
My dad would always take me to sporting events - Lakers and Dodgers games. He was also my basketball coach growing, so we just have always been around sports. So now, that’s what I do with them. When they ask, “wanna go hang out?”, my response is usually “hey, let’s go to a game!”
Do you have a beauty “secret” you’re willing to share?
For an everyday look less is more! When you’re onstage, or taking pictures, I’m likely wearing more makeup than I would on a daily basis. But I don’t want girls thinking you have to walk around looking like that all day, because I certainly don’t!
What about your favorite Vegas hang?
I love trying new food places - I’m all about that! My favorite place to go is Hot ‘n Juicy. I was actually planning on going tonight! (laughs) I would more than likely gravitate more toward a food place than nightlife.
What do you love most about Las Vegas?
Vegas has so much to offer! I think we get so used to it living here, and we forget how cool our city is! I think it’s amazing that we have so many people from all around the world coming to visit and marvel at things we take for granted. The diversity that we’re accustomed to is really incredible.
Before saying goodbye, Andrea extended an invitation to her “Miss America Sendoff” at her church, where she’ll be surrounded by close friends and family. I thought that invitation alone was a true testament to her character, class, and down to earth personality.
The Miss Nevada scholarship organization is always looking for young women like Andrea who are inspired to make our state shine. If you’re inspired by her story, consider applying, donating, sponsorship, and/or volunteering to this not-for-profit organization. www.missnevada.org