BATON ROUGE, La. -Miss West Virginia USA Charisse E. Haislop of Parkersburg is set to compete in the Miss USA pageant, which will be aired live tonight from 8-11 p.m. on NBC.
Haislop and 50 other women have been in Baton Rouge, La., for two weeks preparing for the national pageant. They have been making a lot of appearances and spending time rehearsing for the big show, said Haislop's mother, Karla.
Their schedule is so full that the contestants average about four hours of sleep a night, Karla Haislop said. This is the first time the pageant has been held in Baton Rouge and Charisse said the southern hospitality has not gone unnoticed, her mother said.
The contestants are staying at the L'Auberge resort where the resort has gone above and beyond to make the contestants feel welcome, she said.
Wednesday evening was dress rehearsal and Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent rehearsing about 10-12 hours a day.
This year's Miss USA pageant is a little bit different because the judges are going to call 20 contestants into the semifinals instead of the normal 16 they have called in prior years, Karla Haislop said. Also, everyone will have a chance to "save" their favorite contestant by tweeting using the hashtag #savethequeen and another keyword, which will be shown on the screen during the live telecast, she said.
Miss WV USA has never won Miss USA.
"Charisse's goal is to become the first Miss WV USA to do that, thereby making history!" her mother said.
If Charisse would win, she would be whisked back to New York City immediately where she would be employed by the Miss Universe Organization for a year, Karla said.
Charisse is a West Virginia University graduate with a degree in exercise physiology (pre-med) and is a business development manager with the WV RX Card. She teaches Pilates in her spare time.
She is a staff writer for Health and Wellness for WVU Pros, an online magazine aimed at the players, alumni, and fans of WVU sports.
Charisse has been preparing for this pageant since she was crowned Miss WV USA in October 2013. She has been on a strict fitness regimen and workout schedule, which has enabled her to be ready for the swimsuit competition, which is one-third of the competition, her mother said.
Evening gown presentation (another third of the competition) is where Charisse will get to wear her evening gown that she chose for tonight's telecast. She is excited for the folks back home to see the gown, Karla Haislop said.
And the last third of the competition is made up of interview which Charisse said is her favorite part of the competition. She said she loves the interview category because it's the best way for a judge to really get to know a contestant, and it's a way for the contestants to distinguish themselves from one another.
"Charisse is very excited for everyone back in Parkersburg to watch the show (tonight)," her mother said.
"She has received so many well-wishes, flowers, cards and so much else from everyone back home and has been humbled by all the support," she said.