I love having exclusive access to my favorites making waves in today’s pop culture, entertainment industry breakouts and the ultra fabulous. My next guest is all of the above and so much more! People, I introduce Kim Gravel. Take note: It’s pronounced “gra-velle.” This incredible lady coaches eager girls to pageant victories, mentors the willing and creates a bond between her and the young ladies forever true. She is truly amazing from what we see on her smash hit Kim of Queens on Lifetime TV. My husband and I watch every week.
The show is based on her school The Pageant Place located near Atlanta where her energetic team of Jo, Amy and Allisyn supports her while she supports the dreams of true dreamers, both mammas and daughters alike. Since I’ve recently gotten back onto the competitive stage after a great decade of stepping away it was a delight and joy when my good Judy, Bob Taylor, connected me with one of the most knowledgable people in the pageant business. I feel like I have had a true one-on-one with my new pageant therapist. And so you know, “good Judy” means great confidant, sister, bestie forever, secret keeper, BFF.
Steven Michael – Thanks for joining me, gal! Jumping right in… You have amazing patience with some of the craziness on the show. How do you deal?!
Kim Gravel – “Well it’s tough at times. However, I’ve lived some life and been around the block a time or two so I can relate and often have been where they have been. The thing is I have this strong desire to see them avoid some of life’s pitfalls because most of the time they are just distractions. But having said that those hard times/things ground you and sometimes motivate you. When I look back over my life the pitfalls were the very things that led to my destiny. The pitfalls have become my power!”
Simply brilliant! In 1991, you became one of the youngest women to win Miss Georgia America. Quite an accomplishment! Do you miss competing and what did you enjoy most about it?
“I don’t miss competing because I think I enjoy leading others rather than competing myself. However, I do miss being a size 6, traveling the world speaking and wearing a gown! I can’t lie!”
Honey, I hear you! I’ve always been a performer finding the stage in various platforms. It’s hard for me to stay away. If you were to compete today, what would your platform be?
“Something I call ‘Crisis of Confidence.’ I would develop a program to get young people back on track. To help equip them with life skills not only to cope but show them how to set goals and achieve them. I don’t believe we can be SELF confident. That’s kinda of a oxymoron. Anytime we dwell on self we come up lacking. You can develop confidence in your call and your purpose. The fact you were born says you are here on planet earth to be different to make a difference! My platform would be to train, teach and build a CONFIDENT generation!”
What is the #1 thing that a contestant must have to win a pageant? And does that rule apply to every contest, why or why not?
“BE YOU! Just concentrate, focus and do you. The problem with that is most people have no clue who they are. That’s the challenge for most people competing. That’s my specialty, bringing out the very BEST in a person. Most of the time people cannot even see their own greatness. Yes this winning principal applies to everyone in all walks of life. I’ll tell you this, I’ve seen a many girls win & lose just being a pageant girl but I have NEVER seen a girl lose BEING HERSELF because that’s rare to find.”
What you say reaches more ears than you know. Again, thanks so much. What did you personally find as a weakness while competing that you had to overcome and how did you do that?
“Doubt! I was 19 when I competed and doubted myself at every turn and listened to the ‘experts.’ To be honest, that was my downfall. Questioning myself and not trusting my own gut cost. That’s why I never just tell my girls what to do I help them find their OWN answers. I steer the boat but they remain the captain of their ship. When a person stops doubting themselves and trust their own instincts greatness follows.”
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for someone competing?
“Comparison. Comparison kills creativity. So many times people compete with others but truly smart competitors only compete with themselves. So many times I hear people say competition motivates people but I say if it does then it the lowest form of motivation out there and it’s limiting. The people in this life that have achieved greatness (I mean history book greatness) competed only with themselves. I tell my girls ‘stay in your own lane,’ ‘don’t look to the left or right,’ ‘worry about your own self.’ It sounds so simple but it’s tough to do!”
As well as competing I’ve also coached, choreographed and judged pageants. I’ve always found the subjectiveness of competition a huge obstacle but it is part of it. Handle it or get off the stage. Be undeniable so the judges can’t get you! How do you feel about Toddlers and Tiaras and what do you think about the entire “go-go juice, sugar amp” the parents put their kids through? Do you feel it’s abusive in any way?
“I’m not a fan of little girl pageants or glitz pageants. Does it harm the kids, NO. You could really say the same about most sports for kids. I do feel like it’s more about the parents than the kids but do I think it’s scaring kids for life, no. Kids have so many other damaging things coming at them today that child beauty pageants are just a drop in the bucket.”
We watched Toddlers and Tiaras but found it just so much to deal with. The screaming children running the show. It actually gave me a headache after each episode. (laughing) We love your show. Did you pitch the concept to producers or did they find you?
“A producer that was 17-years-old found me! I’ve been doing local community TV in Atlanta for 10 years in a talk show format and decided to make a tape to send to reality production companies. He’s the only one who called back.”
Well, we’re sure glad he did. Do you watch yourself on television and what do you think when you see yourself? We think you’re fierce and you’re not afraid of painting, always in your look. Thoughts?
“I don’t love it or I don’t hate it. I keep the main thing the main thing and that is message, heart and FUN! Of course I see all my flaws, how we can improve the show and my gaudy clothes scare me but I’m grateful to have this opportunity. So at the end of every show I say “thank you God for this” and try not to be to critical because this only comes around once in a lifetime!”
As a choreographer, I enjoy Dance Moms for the dancing but can’t stand the majority of Abby’s treatment to the girls by berating them. Do you watch the show and your thoughts on her way of teaching/ coaching? She creates some amazing routines but I wonder what the children are personally going through off-screen.
“I love Dance Moms and I respect and like Abby. Everybody has their own style and finesse. I think Abby is a great leader but for me it’s not just about the pageants. It’s about developing leaders and seeing these young women dream bigger, believe in themselves and see their territory enlarged.”
There have been a few moments where you seem so invested in the kids it pulls my heartstrings. It looks incredibly organic. Are they truly able to open up in front of the camera or do you find modesty among them?
“We all forget cameras are there and to be completely transparent, there are so many great moments you never see. Some of these moms and daughters have been through so much and it comes out. That intimacy bonds us. I’m so proud of the show and the message that’s getting out there. Lifetime TV and Relativity Media have been so supportive of me, this show and its message.”
What holds most back from accomplishing their goals and dreams?
“The dream itself! Let me give you an example… I dreamed all my life for a husband who was the man of my dreams. I was so focused on the dream of a man I almost missed him! That’s what happens. We have this dream we’ve imagined what it looks like, feels like, tastes like and when the dream comes we don’t even recognize it. Don’t get attached to the dreams itself! Instead focus on the motivation, develop your skills, and work on being your best self, move forward in your gifts and the dream will find you. My favorite saying is ‘my husband, is everything I never thought, I always wanted!’ Your dream is most likely ‘everything, you never thought, you always wanted’.”
“Yes I have some regrets. There are things I wish I could change but no use crying over spilt milk. Just gotta grab a rag wipe it up and pour yourself another glass. My regrets in life are catalyst to assist in making better decisions in the future. You live and you learn.”