Thursday, March 3, 2016 | 4:32 p.m.
Blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty Lauren Cahlan won the 2016 Mrs. Nevada America Pageant on Sunday at Suncoast and now represents the Silver State in the 2016 Mrs. America Pageant at Westgate Las Vegas in August.
The 25-year-old 5’9” beauty is following in the high heels of her mother, who was Mrs. Oklahoma. Lauren, a senior public relations executive for Wicked Creative here, told me moments after the crowning:
“It feels amazing. I feel like I’m on cloud nine, honestly. I signed up six months ago, so it’s been a long journey and a lot of preparation. As I touched on during my onstage question, this is something I’ve wanted to do forever, since my mother was Mrs. Oklahoma.
“It’s just always been a lifelong dream, so to be here now and to have it is just the most surreal and amazing experience.”
Lauren’s Mom and Dad are Las Vegas real-estate honchos Jill and Bob Barnhart, who own Luxurious Real Estate. They were front row at the pageant cheering Lauren on to victory.
Jill won Miss Oklahoma in 1982 and went on to Miss USA, part of the Miss Universe Organization. After marrying, she became Mrs. Oklahoma America in 1993 and after moving to Las Vegas won Mrs. Nevada United States in 2008.
“Mrs. Nevada USA and Mrs. Nevada America are two different systems,” Lauren explained. “The America system really has a great tradition, and for me it really feels like the ultimate goal organization that I would want to be a part of as a married woman.”
Lauren has amassed an impressive string of pageant wins: Miss Teen Nevada International 2006, then Miss Nevada Teen USA 2008. In 2012, she competed for Miss Nevada USA and placed in the Top Five — this was the year 1995 Miss USA Shanna Moakler took over the Nevada pageant.
“I got engaged and kept in contact with Shanna,” Lauren continued. “Shanna’s so amazing to work with, so we linked up. Since I work at Wicked and do PR, we thought it would be great to put some PR initiative behind Miss Nevada USA and Miss Nevada Teen USA. We’ve been working together for three years now.”
The Mrs. Nevada America Pageant started in 1977 and is approaching its 40th anniversary. Our thanks to Georgina Vaughan for her photo gallery of the pageant.
Lauren was the first contestant to be called when the judges selected the Top 10. When she made it to the Top Five, she was the last to be called for the final onstage question.
All five finalists were asked what they would do to elevate the status and position of the Mrs. Nevada America Pageant if they won the title and tiara.
“Being the last one to be called in the Top Five is very nerve wracking. You never know what the question is going to be, and I just really wanted to speak from the heart and talk about my own experience.”
For the next 12 months, Lauren will work on her charity platform with the women’s shelter Shade Tree. “I’ve been working with them with their job readiness program teaching workshops to the women for resumes and job interview skills,” she explained.
“A lot of these women don’t have a resume in place or don’t have a job history. Employment in their circumstances is the key to independence and building that self-confidence again after they’ve been through these extraordinarily difficult situations. I’d really like to draw awareness to that and grow that program.
“There are so many amazing organizations I’d like to work with this year, one being Project Teddy that the Mrs. Nevada America organization is closely aligned with. They do so many amazing things for children with cancer locally, and I’d like to follow in the footsteps of the Mrs. Nevada queens and continue with the organizations that they felt really strongly about to continue that legacy.
“Then I have the national pageant Aug. 25 at the Westgate. I’ll represent Nevada.
Our current Mrs. America is a former Mrs. Arkansas USA, and she’s competing at Mrs. World in China: 26 years old, Madeline Glenn, a gorgeous girl. If I win the national pageant, then I would get to compete at Mrs. World, which would be extremely exciting.”
I asked Lauren, who handles publicity and promotion for several Strip properties, if she inherited all her good looks from her mom: “I definitely have to credit my mom for great genes, but so much more than that.
“I can’t say enough how much of an impact she’s made on my life and been such a role model. Pageantry has always been such a fun thing for us; it’s a bonding thing. We have so much fun shopping for the dress and looking at the accessories and doing fun things like that.
“It’s never been one of those things where even though my mom did pageants, it was never expected of us. We just really enjoyed doing them. We’ve even gotten my dad involved, and he gets into it. He’s the unbiased opinion and keeps it real when it comes to certain things.
“Now even my husband Shaun during this, he’s getting involved, and I think he did pretty well in his own stage debut during the evening gown presentation, so I’m proud of him.
“I think he wasn’t too happy about being onstage to walk me down in front of the judges, but I think he was a really good sport about it. We’ve been together for about six years and married the last two of them.
“We met here in Las Vegas. His family has a lot of history here. His great, great-grandfather started the Review-Journal. His family has been here for a really long time. He’s the regional sales manager for a convention sales company and before that was in rental car management, completely different jobs than what I do.
“I’ve been at Wicked now for four years, and our boss Stephanie Wilson came to watch the pageant with other people from the office. She and my co-workers have been so supportive this entire journey.
“Stephanie is amazing, and I’m not just saying this for brownie points, but she has been so supportive and has really made it possible for me to do this. Before I signed up, I chatted with her and said that I want to do this pageant.
“But if I win, there are going to be things that will take me away from the office, and I wanted to make sure that’s OK. She was 100 percent OK with it and very supportive.
“Seeing her right after I won was really exciting. It’s great because Wicked is very involved with philanthropic efforts — donating pro bono PR to Shade Tree, Opportunity Village, Best Buddies. It’s very important for her as a company that we’re involved with philanthropic efforts.
“It’s also that each of us are pursuing our own dreams outside work and really living fulfilling lives. I feel very blessed to work for a company like that and to have a boss like Stephanie.”
As a senior account executive at Wicked, Lauren handles about 20 accounts, including Chateau, Hexx and Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas, Rhumbar at the Mirage, the Juice Standard, Tacos and Tequila at the Luxor, Lifetime Fitness, Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood, Crush at MGM Grand and La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas.
I asked Lauren if winning Mrs. Nevada America will change her life: “It will impact it for the better. Working for a company like Wicked and having the support to be able to fit this into my day to day is very important, and I’ve always been the type who’s really enjoyed being busy.
“If you want something done, give it to your busy person because that’s the type of person I am. I love that, and I’m very blessed to also have a husband who’s supportive of that. I think it’s only going to change for the better, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds this year.
“For the national pageant in August, I’ve first got to think of a state costume, something that represents Nevada, so I’ll be preparing that and the rest of my wardrobe and continuing to work in the community.”
Who gets the credit for her fabulous blonde hair? Hair guru Michael Boychuck at Color salon in Caesars Palace. “I can’t say enough how much I love Michael,” said Lauren. “I’ve known him since I was 13 years old, and he’s always made my Boychuck blonde hair look amazing. I just saw him last weekend; he’s so supportive. I will continue to trust him with my hair forever.
“He’s the secret weapon for us pageant winners.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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