Amanda Peacock’s journey through the world of pageantry has been nothing short of transformative. Motivated by the doors that have opened for her, she is now participating in her fourth Miss New Jersey competition, representing Miss Harbor Shores 2023.
This year’s competition takes place at the renowned Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City over the weekend, with preliminary events scheduled for June 15 and 16, and the finals set to occur on June 17.
Peacock’s initial foray into pageantry occurred over a decade ago when she was just 13 years old. As a theater enthusiast who reveled in singing and dancing, she took a suggestion to enter a pageant competition to heart, despite her lack of familiarity with the world of pageantry at the time.
Recalling her early experience, Peacock said, “I did not know anything about pageants at the time.”
Since then, Peacock has accumulated an impressive list of titles, including Miss Gloucester County’s Teen in 2014 and 2015, Miss Atlantic Shores’ Teen in 2016, Miss Veterans Day in 2018, Miss Northern Lakes in 2019, and Miss South Jersey in 2022.
Now 24 years old, Peacock cherishes the opportunities that pageantry has presented to her and the valuable life skills she has acquired along the way. Most importantly, she emphasizes that pageants have given her a platform to advocate for a cause close to her heart, through her affiliation with the Toni and RJ Foundation.
A lifelong resident of Williamstown, with a brief stint in North Jersey during her time at Montclair State University, Peacock was moved by the tragic story of Toni Donato Bolis and the foundation established in her and her son’s memory. In 2011, Bolis, who was pregnant at the time, and her unborn son lost their lives in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver using a cell phone. The crash occurred on Pitman-Downer Road in Washington Township when the distracted driver veered into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with Bolis’ SUV.
At the age of 13, Peacock embraced her pageant platform to raise awareness about the perils of distracted driving. She joined forces with the Toni and RJ Foundation, which aims to educate drivers about the dangers of driving while distracted. Peacock actively shares Toni and RJ’s story in schools and other public forums to highlight the devastating consequences of distracted driving.
Peacock remains dedicated to her involvement with the Toni and RJ Foundation and collaborates with End Distracted Driving, a project initiated by the Casey Feldman Foundation. She particularly enjoys speaking to students enrolled in driver education classes, as she believes that instilling safe driving habits from the beginning is crucial in combatting the epidemic of distracted driving. According to Peacock, education plays a pivotal role in ending distracted driving, as approximately 3,000 lives are lost each year due to this preventable cause. She stresses that these incidents are not mere accidents but rather the result of distracted driving crashes.
In the upcoming Miss New Jersey competition, Peacock has chosen advocacy for distracted driving as her community service initiative. The competition encompasses various segments, including interviews, talent demonstrations, on-stage questions, fitness and wellness evaluations, and evening wear presentations.
Peacock’s ultimate aspiration is to become Miss New Jersey and, in the long run, to compete for the title of Miss America. Balancing her pursuit of these lofty goals with a full-time position at Princeton University, Peacock acknowledges that the journey requires a year-round mindset. Preparing for pageants helps keep her grounded while maintaining an active lifestyle that contributes to her mental and physical well-being.
For additional information on the Miss New Jersey competition, please visit www.missnj.org.