‘I competed virtually’ Tampa woman wins Miss America preliminary pageant over Zoom
by: Sarafina Brooks
Posted: Jun 26, 2020 / 08:06 PM EDT / Updated: Jun 26, 2020 / 08:06 PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to become creative and rely heavily on digital platforms like Zoom.
So, it was no surprise when 24-year-old Tampa resident, Leila Sabet, found herself competing in the first-ever, virtual Miss America preliminary pageant in Florida.
“I competed virtually through Zoom for Miss Florida Citrus 2020 on June 13,” Sabet said. “I did have to use my garage for that space. It was so interesting. Preparing virtually for this looked a lot different than how I usually prepare for a local pageant. So, this time it was less about my spacing on a stage and more about how I was going to space myself through a screen from a two-dimensional standpoint.”
Sabet competed in various stages including presenting her social impact initiative, Lift & Be Uplifted: Increasing Women’s Influence in the Professional World and her on-stage talent, traditional Persian dancing.
“As far as my personal social impact initiative goes, my organization is called Lift & Be Uplifted: Increasing Women’s Influence in the Professional World. So, I work in a male dominant field for the number one fastest-growing company in the world. So, I see the direct effects of how influential women’s voices can be from that leadership standpoint. And I’m traditional Persian dancer. So, I’ve been able to represent not only young females in the professional world but also Middle Eastern Americans,” said Sabet.
Sabet, a manager in operations for an Amazon fulfillment center in Tampa, ultimately went on to win Miss Florida Citrus 2020. She was virtually announced the winner with her family by her side.
“It was definitely quiet, especially when they announced my name. Usually, there’s an audience. So, I had my sister and my mom and my dad, and they were kind of like, ‘go Leila!’” Sabet said.
Next June, the Florida State University graduate, and Real Talk Ambassador will compete in the Miss Florida Pageant, the preliminary pageant to Miss America. But first, Sabet tells WFLA.com, she has big plans as Miss Florida Citrus 2020.
“I will represent the citrus industry of Florida,” said Sabet. “I’ll actually be piloting a program with the Nutrients for Life Organization throughout the state of Florida with the current Miss Florida, Michaela McLean, who’s a good friend of mine. We will partner this year to go into schools and hopefully reach hundreds of thousands of students and educate them on the nutrients that orange juice can provide.”
To learn more about Leila Sabet and to follow her journey, visit her on social media.
Miss Florida Citrus 2020 Is Crowned
June 22, 2020 / Awards
Leila Sabet, Miss Florida Citrus 2020
Leila Sabet, 24, of Ponte Vedra Beach was crowned Miss Florida Citrus June 13 in the very first virtual Miss America preliminary pageant in Florida.
Due to COVID-19, “the country closed down just two weeks prior to when this year’s pageant was scheduled to take place” so it was delayed and rescheduled as a virtual event, said Miss Florida Citrus Pageant Executive Director Brenda Eubanks Burnette.
“With the help of Todd Dantzler and Jonathan Barreras of SVN Saunders, Ralston, Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland, a plan was mapped out to use their boardroom and Zoom conference capability to create a virtual judging center that each candidate could sign into for their various stages of competition,” explained Burnette.
Burnette (center) met with Goldman (left) and Sabet (right) after the virtual pageant to deliver the crowns, banners and prizes to the winning contestants.
Pageant candidates had several stages of competition — personal interview, on-stage question, talent and red carpet/social impact statement. Burnette said the 17 contestants were the most in the six years she’s been running the event.
Sabet is a manager in operations for Amazon Fulfillment in Tampa. She graduated cum laude from Florida State University in 2019 with a bachelor of science in psychology and a certificate in advanced leadership studies. She plans to pursue an MBA degree.
Michaela McLean, Miss Florida 2019; Ann Daniel Adams, 1954 Florida Citrus Queen; Cassidy Goldman, Miss Winter Haven 2020; and Leila Sabet, Miss Florida Citrus 2020
During the combined Miss Florida Citrus/Miss Winter Haven pageant, Cassidy Goldman of Jacksonville was selected as the new Miss Winter Haven. She is a 20-year-old senior at the University of North Florida, where she is pursuing a bachelor of science in multimedia journalism.
Sabet and Goldman will both compete in the Miss Florida pageant, which will take place in Lakeland in June 2021. The winner of the Miss Florida pageant will compete in the Miss America pageant.
First, second and third runners-up in the pageant were Sarah Sarver, Bethany Worley and Gracie Dyer, respectively. The two winners and three runners-up won a total of more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.
The Miss Florida Citrus pageant has its root in the Florida Citrus Queen pageant, first held in 1924. Burnette said she and some other past pageant winners agree that the year following their pageant wins “was one of the best years of our lives and one that impacted our future for years to come.”
Visit www.MissFloridaCitrus.net to see all of the candidates and the video from the pageant.
For more information or to schedule a Miss Florida Citrus appearance, contact Burnette at 561-351-4314 or MFCitrus81@gmail.com.
Source: Brenda Eubanks Burnette
New Miss Florida Citrus Winner Zooms to Stardom
Posted by Paul Rusnak | June 22, 2020
In this day and age of coronavirus, almost everything is taking place virtually. Add to that list the long-running, tradition-rich Miss Florida Citrus Pageant. The very first virtual running of the Miss America preliminary event in the Sunshine State took place via Zoom and saw Leila Sabet of Ponte Vedra Beach earn the title of Miss Florida Citrus 2020. Runner-up Cassidy Goldman of Jacksonville was crowned the new Miss Winter Haven.
Both titleholders will now go on to compete in the Miss Florida Pageant, the winner of which will compete in the Miss America Pageant. Both pageants were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and exact dates have yet to be announced.
Miss Florida Citrus 2020 candidates participated in various stages of competition, which included their Personal Interview, On-Stage Question, Talent and Red Carpet/Social Impact Statement — all from their laptops or phone.
The top five finalists won more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.
Sabet, who is sponsored by Intense Ink Graphics, graduated Cum Laude from Florida State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies. She plans to pursue an MBA degree and become a Senior Executive for a Fortune 500 Company.
She is currently a Manager in Operations for Amazon Fulfillment in Tampa. Her social impact statement is “Lift & Be Uplifted: Increasing Women’s Influence in the Professional World.” For her talent, she performed a Persian dance to the song, “Golzar” by Bijan Mortazavi.
Sponsored by Florida’s Natural, Goldman is a Senior at the University of North Florida, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Journalism and plans to be a creative entrepreneur. Her social impact statement is “#BreakTheCycle: Human Trafficking Awareness.” She has held several leadership roles and earned numerous awards for her talent. She performed an opera vocal called “Mein Herr Marquis” from “The Magic Flute” as her talent in the pageant.
The new titleholders attended a luncheon last week where they were greeted by Winter Haven Mayor Brad Dantzler, Miss Florida 2019 Michaela McLean, 1954 Florida Citrus Queen Ann Daniel Adams, Kelly Bailey, Pageant Coordinator, and Brenda Eubanks Burnette, Executive Director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame and past Florida Citrus Queen.
The Florida Citrus Queen Pageant began in 1924 and has been part of the Miss America Organization off and on throughout the years, with the name changing to Miss Florida Citrus in 1984.