HBO Documentary Films Presents
Premieres on HBO Sunday, June 24th
If you’re not touched by this film, you’re not human!
Miss You Can Do It is a pageant founded in 2004 by Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa USA 2008 and the first woman with a disability (cerebral palsy) to compete at the Miss USA Pageant. The documentary follows eight girls from around the country with physical and intellectual disabilities as they participate in the pageant. The overall message the documentary is you can do it, no matter what your disabilities are – if you try.
“I got bit by the bug, I love the girls love the pageant and would still be competing today if I wasn’t too old,” Abbey tells me in a telephone interview with her and Director Ron Davis. Abbey started the MISS YOU CAN DO IT pageant on a bet. If she won her first pageant which was the County Fair Queen Pageant she would start it. She made the top ten, but didn’t win. A friend of hers asked why she needed to win to start the pageant and kept telling her she can do it and that’s how the name and the pageant came about.
As Abbey is applying her lipstick in the beginning of the documentary she talks about why she wanted to do pageants,”It’s something different for a woman with a disability. We also want to be looked at as sexy, beautiful and accomplished.” Her family was very supportive of her ventures. Many parents hold their children back from entering thinking they are going to get made fun of, that’s far from what Abbey experienced. She said the girls all treated her respectfully. With her Miss You Can Do It Pageant, it gives the parents a comfort knowing they are safe and surrounded by girls just like them.
Wondering how Abbey felt after competing all those years and finally heard her name called I had to ask her how she felt, “I was completely numb, literally that was bigger than a dream come true, “Abbey says. “I never dreamed to be Miss Iowa USA, I dreamed to be Fair Queen and that dream never became a reality, but this huge one did. My parent’s were shocked when I won; they watched me for the past seven years lose and win this one incredible huge pageant.”
After winning the Miss USA Pageant Abbey had a chance to talk to one of the judges who told her, “We win things only so we can pass a dream onto someone else.” That is exactly what Abbey has been doing for the past eight years. Her pageant may not have any sponsors and breaks her financially, but it does have a waiting list with women from all over the country wanting an opportunity to have their moment on stage.
“5 minutes after the pageant is over I am always sad that it’s over. I don’t get to plan anymore magic until at least nine months.” Abbey says. The magic continues in each of the girls that compete long after the pageant is over. The girls get experience, lifetime memories and friendships. They get to leave their disabilities behind them for those moments and allow their personalities to shine through. In the beginning of the documentary Deleny Tesk is asked at her audition, “What do you want people to know about you?” She says, “I want everyone to see me for who I am and all my friends do see that.” Deleny went on to win the pageant.
“Purity of the families and the reality is why I made the movie,” Director Ron Davis tells me. Making the movie helped Ron get past his own issues with people with disabilities. He says, “I didn’t know how to act, I was uncomfortable, I would look away or ignore. I learned how to get past what I was seeing and see the person for who they are.”
The girls are all moving forward now, their living their lives. Ron says. “People with disabilities are able to handle more than the average person; they are optimistic, more determined and have charisma.”
I asked Ron about how distribution came about with HBO, “Working with HBO was a filmmaker’s dream. I brought the project to them after working on it for 3 years. They immediately came on board and did everything in their power to ensure that the film would turn out the way it did.”
If you get the chance, watch the documentary it will open your eyes to a beautiful world you don’t get to see. These girls are excited, playful and they can’t stop smiling. See them with their families doing something that allows them to leave their challenge behind and allow their true self to be seen. “I can be anyone I want to be and I can do anything I like to do,“ says a contestant. It’s is why these girls are there. It will help you to see beneath the surface allowing you to look and treat people with disabilities the way they should be treated, just like you and me.
You can find more information on the Miss You Can Do It Pageant on their website at www.missyoucandoit.com.