Miss Chesterfield uses her crown to promote anti-bullying message
Athlete, student, beauty queen, survivor, fighter, leader, winner; select any of these descriptions and they will describe Taylor Reynolds.
Twenty-one-year-old Reynolds was crowned Miss Chesterfield on January 10 and will be representing Chesterfield in the Miss Virginia 2016 pageant in June.
This is not her first time at competing for Miss Virginia, it is her fourth. The former Thomas Dale High School graduate said, “Who’s counting, what makes this year so much different is that this is the first year I get to represent my hometown.”
Along with being a Chester resident, this beauty queen is on a mission – not just reaching for a crown but spreading a message on bullying.
“I was called Oreo for acting white when I was black on the outside,” she said. “I was excluded from groups because I was not black enough.”
She said pageants are an avenue where she would be able to help others with spreading a message of starting a chain action of kindness that would get rid of the bullying, hatred and negativity that occurs in schools and communities.
Reynolds, a junior at Queens University of Charlotte, jumped into her first pageant the summer of 2012 as a rising senior at Thomas Dale. “I had seen an ad for the Chesterfield County Fair pageant and I remember just staring at the flyer and telling myself, I could really do this,” she said.
She was selected as first runner-up to Savannah Lane who is current Miss Virginia. After the pageant, judges Buddy and Sue Cox pulled her aside and told her they thought she was great and had so much potential to continue to compete. They worked with her for a few months and she took to the stage in her first Miss America Organization pageant to compete for Miss Great Richmond.
It took Reynolds six tries to finally walk away with a crown; Miss Commonwealth 2013 which then qualified her for Miss Virginia for the first time. Since then, she has competed in two or three pageants a year winning Miss Bedford 2014, Miss State Fair of Virginia 2015, and currently Miss Chesterfield 2016.
Reynolds said it is common for ladies to enter a lot of pageants. “Yes, it is very common to do so!” she said. “That is what makes the Miss Virginia Organization so great. Girls can explore this beautiful state and learn more about communities when competing.”
Her ultimate goal is to spread her platform – Rachel’s Challenge; a program that began after the 1999 Columbine shooting where Rachel Joy Scott was shot and passed away. Her parents discovered that she had a dream to spread kindness and thus creating a better world.
“This program found me when I was a senior at Thomas Dale and I was selected to be a mentor,” she said. “I fell in love with this program because I was bullied in grade school, so I go around to schools talking about Rachel’s story as well as mine. This is the main reason why I want to be Miss Virginia, I would have a bigger platform to spread Rachel’s Challenge to as many people as possible.”
Reynolds is no light-weight when it comes to anything she approaches including her athletic ability. She has been dancing since the age of three at Encore Studios and chose dance as her talent, but her talent on the track is just as focused and important. She has set personal records in several meets in 2014 and 2015 at Queens University and was named to the USTFCCCA All-Region teams in 2014 and 2015.
“I actually approach track and pageants almost the same way,” she said. “They both take a lot of practice, coaching, patience and confidence. But track doesn’t require make-up and a swim suit. I mentally prepare myself hours before for both.”
Reynolds, daughter of Theodore and Beverly Reynolds, and is the youngest of three children. She has an older sister, Jasmine, 26 and a brother, Troy, who is 40.
“I have been fortunate to have parents that are always there for me,” she said. “Not many people can say that they have the kind of parents that I do. Even in college, they have spent weekends trying to travel to meet us at a meet. Even when I had the crazy idea to do a pageant my mother was ready to do it and my father came to watch. After anything I do, he always tells me how proud he is of me and that his mother is proud from up above. I am so blessed and incredibly lucky.”
She is on an academic and athletic scholarship at Queens. A biology major in the pharmacy track, who loves to read and knit, Reynolds enjoys anything written by Ellen Hopkins and her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.