Crowning the year

Bree Boyce’s top 10 moments as Miss South Carolina

otaylor@thestate.comJuly 8, 2012 

  • Bree Boyce’s Top 10 crowning moments 1. “The View” from in front of the camera: On July 15, Boyce was a co-host on the “ The View,” sitting next to Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and the rest of the cast. “That was crazy. I still can’t get over that,” she said.
    2. Take 2, 3 and 4: The same day she was on “The View,” Boyce also made appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “New York Live.” “I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was fun,” Boyce said. “We started at four in the morning and ended at 6 p.m.”
    3. Take 5 and 6: Let’s not forget appearances on HLN and “Extra.” Boyce was more popular than Kim Kardashian. And there’s no wonder why Boyce was on TV so much. She can chat — offline and on, if you’re wondering.
    4. Faded blues: At the Sunday-morning press conference after her crowning, Boyce, who glimmered like the crown on her head, stepped from behind a table on stage and unfolded a pair of faded blue size 18 jeans she wouldn’t be caught in these days. The jeans were an example of her wardrobe before she lost 100 pounds. “It was just so surreal to be standing there as Miss South Carolina, “ she said.
    5. Don’t text while...competing: While Boyce was on stage preparing to perform at Miss America, she was looking at a device in her hand. It looked like she was texting, even though she had in earbuds. “Everybody asked me about that,” she said. Since it moved to Las Vegas from Atlantic City, the pageant has wanted the live show to be more like reality TV. So at rehearsals, organizers told contestants to do whatever they needed to do while waiting their turn. Boyce was listening to her opera music on her iPod. “It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the other girls’ performance. I just needed to be prepared in case they called my name,” she said.
    6. South Carolina on her mind: After Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler, was crowned, Boyce, one of a dozen finalists, went to talk to the judges. It was the opposite of a confrontation. “I am in love with Chris Powell,” she said, referring to the health and fitness expert who served as a judget. “I think he’s amazing.” She also spoke to “Good Morning America” anchor Lara Spencer and Kris Kardashian, the TV family’s matriarch. Both women remarked about her eveningwear look, a long, floor-grazing white gown. Of course they asked about the designer. “I got to say Gregory Ellenburg,” she said, referring to the Greenville-based designer who dressed Boyce for the pageant.
    7. Going to camp: One of Boyce’s scheduled appearances was at Camp Pocono Trails, a weight loss camp based in New Jersey. MTV’s teen reality fitness drama “Fat Camp” was filmed there. Boyce spoke to 500 campers. “When I showed up, they were in this huge room holding up signs and they were excited to see me,” she said. “And to have those kids tell me I was their inspiration, that meant the world to me. “That was why I wanted to be Miss South Carolina. It wasn’t about a sparkling crown. It’s a daily battle. You have to work at it every day.”
    8. Free popcorn: Want to know the way to Boyce’s heart? Get her salt and vinegar popcorn from Popcorn Girl in Las Vegas. In the Miss America program, she said it was her favorite food. “I’m like her No. 1 fan,” Boyce said about the owner, Laurie Sabol. “She said she had never had so many orders as she had that week.”
    9. Falling through: Boyce’s Miss America plans almost fell through when she fell in September. While training, Boyce fell on brick pillars, cutting herself to the bone. She couldn’t walk for three weeks. The fall left magenta scars on Boyce’s shins. One of her theater courses at Francis Marion University taught her how to make scars and bruises — and how to cover them up. "I was pretty upset the first few days, but then I got over it," she said. “And I was like, ‘You know, these things make you stronger and scars add character.’”
    10. Bikini bod: Yeah, it had to feel good for Boyce to win a preliminary swimsuit award at the Miss SC pageant. “I proved a lot of people wrong. Winning that swimsuit award was the icing on the cake,” she said, before adding, “the cake I didn’t eat the night before.”
  • If you go Miss South Carolina Pageant When: 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for preliminaries and for the final Saturday Where: Township Auditorium, 1703 Taylor St. Tickets: $24.50-$37.50 Tuesday-Thursday and $27.50-$57.50 Saturday; $80-$150 for four-day pack Information: Public appearances Noon today, lunch for Miss and Teen contestants at South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St. 1 p.m. Monday, Miss at Pink Sorbet, 2726 Devine St.; Teen at Zorba’s, 6169 St. Andrews Road 1 p.m. Tuesday, Miss at Zorba’s; Teen at Pink Sorbet 1 p.m. Wednesday, Miss and Teen at Village at Sandhill, 481-2 Town Center Place 2 p.m. Wednesday, Prince and Princess at EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St. 7 p.m. Friday, Miss South Carolina Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. $50

Bree Boyce wasn’t rushed, one of the few times she’s had an abundance of time to herself since last July.

“I’m actually at home,” she said during a phone interview. She was at her parents’ house in Florence, without anywhere to be. “It’s starting to slow down because everything is coming to an end.”

After winning the Miss South Carolina Pageant last July, Boyce, who lost more than 100 pounds en route to the crown, has been on an almost non-stop touring schedule. She can be forgiven for feeling fatigued.

“Um yeah, just a little bit,” she said when asked if she was tired. “It’s just been a crazy year.”

She’s been on “The View,” “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” among other TV shows. Her weight-loss story has been retold in newspapers and magazines. Boyce has shared her tale in front of rapt audiences as she’s crisscrossed the state and country. It’s all seemed like a blur until now.

“I’m starting to think back on things, and kind of just going through it,” Boyce, 23, said. “I’ve had to watch my videos online just to remember. It feels like it’s been five years, but it’s only been a year.”

Boyce, a Florence native who placed in the top 12 at the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January, showed her comedic gifts at her coronation press conference. She did impressions of Reba McEntire, Cher and Paula Deen. She also cracked jokes after being bestowed several gifts, including a $3,000 Omega watch and a beaver fur coat.

Her fun was just beginning.

“As soon as The State paper came out that I had won, it took off from there,” she said. “I’ve just had the craziest, awesomest world wind year and I couldn’t have done it without the Miss South Carolina pageant.

“I’m just humbled that I was chosen to represent South Carolina.”

Obviously, those who have followed Boyce’s year want to know what’s next. She said she will travel to Los Angeles in two weeks for meetings with management groups, producers and publishing companies. When she was eliminated from Miss America in front of a live national TV audience, Boyce said she had TV and book offers. Network or cable TV? Which publishing houses?

“I just can’t give it all away because that’s how the business works,” Boyce said.

Boyce, a Francis Marion University theater major, will have to take more time away from school, though she promises to finish her degree. She earned $30,000 in scholarship money from the Miss SC and Miss America pageants, and she’s already repaid her student loans. Boyce did say she’ll tour as a motivational speaker, including an appearance at the Lifestyle Intervention conference in October in Las Vegas.

“I’ll be getting paid very well,” she said. “I was like, ‘You know, you only get these opportunities once in a lifetime’. Maybe in two or three years people won’t be as interested.”

In a few weeks, Boyce’s schedule will be jam packed again. She’ll always find time for one thing: a workout. That’s how she’s kept the weight off, along with eating healthy.

“I will definitely get my workout in because I feel better afterward,” she said. “It’s not something that I have to do; it’s something that I want to do.”

The same could be said about sharing her story. She’ll be telling it from coast to coast, but Boyce won’t stay away forever.

“I’m a true Carolina girl at heart and I know I will be coming back home,” she said.

Backstage, before the swimsuit competition at Miss America, co-host Brooke Burke, a former swimsuit model, gave Boyce some camera time. “What an inspiration you are,” Burke said to her.

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