The Auburn Reporter recently caught up with Cara Rudd, a 21-year-old Federal Way woman who was crowned Miss Auburn earlier this year. Rudd – a polished and well-traveled entertainer who first took the stage in musical theater at age 7 – worked as a choreographer for the Tahoma School District.
An honors student, Rudd graduated from Green River Community College and recently, from Seattle Pacific University, with a dual degree in marketing and communications. She is currently working toward obtaining her MBA and masters in organizational psychology. She hopes to become involved in event planning and management, perhaps run her own firm.
Q. What is the Miss Auburn experience like? Is it what you imagined it to be?
A. The experience is what you make it. Just like the city’s motto, it’s “More Than You Can Imagine.” With 24 young ladies vying for the title of Miss Auburn each year, you are bound to find a diverse level of expectations and dedication. For me, the unending dedication to my platform and interviewing skills is where I focused a majority of my time. Working an average of 20 hours per week in platform-related activities, while finishing my BA at SPU, helped to teach me time-management skills. I dedicated a couple of hours per day to cardio and weight lifting in preparation for the fitness portion of competition. I didn’t hire anyone to give me vocal instructions, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a portion of every day making sure my voice was conditioned to take on such a difficult piece for talent.
As I mentioned before, interview was where I spent most of my time. You can never know enough. The Miss Auburn contestants have a huge responsibility to not only know what’s going on from local to international news, but to be able to convey understanding about their platform and personal interests. Therefore, I stayed up to date on local news through the Auburn Reporter and state, national and international news through the The News Tribune and KOMO-4 news.
As Miss Auburn, the experience has changed. There are still the phases of competition I need to prepare for as I represent the City of Auburn at Miss Washington in July. But now I have several people who are working to assist me in my personal goals and as the title holder. I am able to focus more of my attention on serving the Auburn community and being a spokesperson for my platform.
I wasn’t sure what to expect or imagine, so I was pleasantly surprised. The Miss Auburn Board has been beside me 100 percent along the way. I have never felt like I have needed to do things on my own. The board has been more than willing to assist me.
Q. What are the challenges of fulfilling the role?
A. Averaging one event a day in the Auburn community, the biggest challenge I find are meeting people’s expectations. Let’s be honest. Everyone has an idea of who Miss Auburn is suppose to be, what she’s suppose to do, and how she’s suppose to act. I’ve learned very quickly that Miss Auburn is me, Cara Rudd, not the expectations others place on me. I will, and have, brought who I envision Miss Auburn to be and that has been solely based on serving the community.
Q. You ran on a pageant platform of integrating the arts into academic learning. That platform stems from the fact you have a family member with a learning disability. How inspiring, how important has it been to work for this cause?
A. Working to integrate the arts into academic learning has been life changing for me. With my family member’s learning challenge, I have been able to advocate for her on her behalf, and educate others who may be struggling with similar situations. I believe a lot of times students, regardless of their age, struggle academically and think there’s something wrong with them. I get to be their voice. My platform has helped encourage several students to understand that they have artistic talents and interests within them that need to be explored and can be used to make academic material more engaging and personally enriching.
Q. Are there more stage roles for you in the future?
A. Absolutely. Although this will probably never be my fulltime career, musical theatre will always be a hobby.
Q. Who has been the most influential actor or actress in your career?
A. Kendra Kassebaum. She most recently toured as Glinda in the musical, “Wicked,” and continued in that role on Broadway. Kendra is my big theatre sister. At the age of 13, Kendra and I were in “The Secret Garden” at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Sharing the stage with an all-Broadway cast, Kendra became my role model in musical theatre. Like any mentor, they always see more potential than you see in yourself. Kendra saw my potential even before I understood what the word meant.
Q. You are used to playing good-girl roles. What other diverse roles would you like to play?
A. To be honest, I’m really comfortable with playing “good-girl” roles. Generally speaking, those types of roles fit well with my morals and religious convictions.
Q. What is the most important lessons you have learned from performing in pressure situations, and to be able to perform with style and confidence?
A. Know what you can and can’t control. If you can’t control it, let it go. If you can, do something about it. Knowing what you can and can’t do immediately puts me in a position to feel confident and maintain my demeanor.
Q. You are a licensed open water diver. What waters have you explored, and are there other places you would like to see?
A. Let me start by saying, the only way I received my license was that I had to promise I would always dive with an instructor. I was petrified of open water diving. I remember a group of four individuals and myself who were earning licenses. We did our training by the Mukilteo ferry dock. With an instructor intended for each of us, I ended up with one instructor on each arm and another behind me to grab my legs if I started headed upward at a rapid rate. For now, I think I’ll stick to snorkeling in warmer water.
Q. Are there other goals, ambitions that you have?
A. Right now, my goal is to work toward representing the City of Auburn as best I can at Miss Washington. After my year of service, I’d like to focus on traveling. I’ve developed an interest in backpacking through Europe. Also, I’d like to go on an African safari, just to say I did it. I enjoy traveling to learn about other cultures and to experience what their lives are like. I always like to get out of my comfort zone to try something new – whether it’s visiting a new location or eating at another restaurant. Who knows, maybe my next achievement will be trying a new flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.