You've seen a beauty pageant or two: There are swimsuits, evening gowns, and questions about current events and dreams for the future. But what happens after the winner receives her crown? What are these girls really like? With MTV's newest reality show, Pageant Place (premiering tonight at 10:30 pm/ET), Miss Universe Organization co-owner Donald Trump decided to give you a peek into the lives of several 2007 titleholders during their year of glory. TVGuide.com talked to three of them — Miss USA Rachel Smith, Miss Universe Riyo Mori and Miss Teen USA Hilary Cruz — about the drama, the stereotypes and what they want to prove to America.
TVGuide.com: Why did you want to do this show?
Rachel Smith: It was actually something that was introduced to us after we won, so it's not something that we really knew going into it. We were shooting the pilot when I won. After Riyo won, we started shooting this show. And the premise of it is to show America who we really are and what our job entails, because it's not just one competition and [leading] glamorous lives. There's work that's involved. We each have our own platforms and are spokeswomen for the year.
TVGuide.com: What will we see that might shock us?
Hilary Cruz: As far as drama, I haven't seen a whole lot. But when you get girls living together, there's going to be controversy, so you have to stay tuned.
Rachel: Hello, it's a reality show. You're not going to have a reality show without a little bit of drama, whether it's natural or not.
TVGuide.com: Are there any guys in the picture?
Hilary: Josh is Katie's boyfriend and he's very involved. There are some models and friends. We're not even really sure what's on the show yet. We'll see it the day it premieres.
TVGuide.com: Riyo, how are you dealing with being so far from home? What's the biggest culture shock?
Riyo Mori: I lived in Canada for three years, so I'm used to being away from my family, but this is definitely a different situation. I have more pressure and more work to do, so I miss them but I can't go home right away. I'm having so much fun. Meeting these wonderful girls, it's OK. I'm homesick, but they're like my family in New York.
Rachel: We are. We're like a family.
TVGuide.com: Rachel, how do you think Tara Conner's drinking controversy will affect your reign as Miss USA?
Rachel: The beauty of the whole Miss Universe organization is that when it's the end of one woman's reign, she embarks on her new career and the new titleholder embarks on hers. So this is my year to show the USA what I'm made of and how I’m going to leave my mark on the organization. So I don't dwell on it. Of course, Tara is a part of this show, so she does come back and she adds to the drama. I just have to think about being me and giving this job my all. By doing that, I'll get so much back in return.
TVGuide.com: What is Tara's role on the show? Does she mentor you?
Hilary: Tara has a different relationship with all of us. She's a mentor to me, she's older, so I would go to her for advice. She went through a lot, so it's helpful.
Rachel: She's supposed to be a peer advisor on the show.
TVGuide.com: Hilary, being the youngest of the bunch, did you struggle at all living with older girls, especially moving in midseason?
Hilary: I've never lived away from home before, and I'm very close to my family. I'm an only child. I've never had sisters, so it's exciting for me. We're not only friends and coworkers who have gone through the same things, but we're close and have a good relationship. If the girls weren't in the house, my year would be very different. I do miss home, but I'm surprised how much I love New York.
TVGuide.com: Do you think people have a preconceived notion about what pageant winners do with their titles?
Rachel: Of course. There's that stereotype that there's no substance, it's all about the hair, the makeup, the crown, the sash. There's so much more to us, and hopefully the reality show will do that part of us justice and we'll give you guys an inside look into what life is really like for us.
TVGuide.com: Will we see Donald Trump every now and then? Does he intimidate any of you?
Rachel: I like to say he's our Charlie and we're his Angels. He's our boss. Surprisingly, he plays a big part not only in the show but in our year as titleholders, because we are one of his business endeavors, and he's very interested in knowing what our passions and dreams are.
TVGuide.com: Who are your role models?
Hilary: One of them was my grandmother. She was really successful in her career, she had a wonderful family, she always stayed grounded and she passed that on to her kids, and my dad passed that on to me.
Riyo: It's my mother. She showed me women can have both career and kids.
Rachel: My mom has been a huge, huge part of my life and someone who I look up to greatly just because she's a hardworking woman and had to go through a lot to get where she is today. She's so passionate about helping people and I think that's why I have a passion for helping people. You're a product of your environment.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think people should watch Pageant Place?
Hilary: I think we're all pretty cool girls!
Rachel: The show's going to give a perspective of the pageant industry that no one's ever really seen before. It's intriguing to see what the life is like of three beauty queens who worked really hard to get where they are. Now they're living together — they didn't choose to live with one another — and there are different elements and dynamics to this show. It's going to be unlike any other reality show that's out there.
Meet the various Misses USA in our Online Video Guide!
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