Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri is excited to return for another year of Miss America competition, but this year, she won’t be sitting with the other crowned alumna.
On Wednesday, the Miss America Organization announced two more celebrity judges for the broadcast final night of competition. Davuluri and TV and radio host Maria Menounos were added to the panel of previously announced finale judges, including country music singer Thomas Rhett, actress Molly Sims, pop star Jordin Sparks and People magazine Editor in Chief Jess Cagle.
As with many Miss America winners, Atlantic City has a special place in Davuluri’s heart. The 2014 competition was the first back in Atlantic City after a nine-year stint in Las Vegas.
“I’m really excited to return back to Boardwalk Hall and very grateful to be a part of this year’s final night judging panel,” Davuluri said. “I’m most excited to see all the people who come to the events. Everyone’s so excited and welcomes us with open arms.”
Her reign as Miss America helped her advocate for her platform of “celebrating diversity through cultural competency” as well as promote education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She continued to work with and became a board member of the Miss America Foundation, before stepping down last year to work on other projects.
Though seasoned in the pageant world, Miss America will be Davuluri’s first time on a judging panel.
“The tables have now turned,” Davuluri said about being one of the judges who will score the lifestyle and fitness, talent, poise and on-stage questions.
As a past Miss America, Davuluri knows the demands of the 12-month job and said she is considering that as part of the judging criteria.
“It’s a very difficult job. I think many people don’t realize that,” Davuluri said. “I think the most important aspect is for the girl selected to be relatable. You meet and work with so many people — from the kids with the Children’s Miracle Network or politicians.”
Davuluri is not the only past Miss America on the panel. Susan Perkins Bostford, Miss America 1978, is one of the seven preliminary competition judges who will help select the top 15 contestants.