Newly-crowned Miss Hawaii 2023 Star Dahl-Thurston was poised but obviously excited as she did her first interview as Miss Hawaii 2023 Saturday evening on stage at the Hawaii Theatre. Competing as Miss Chinatown Hawaii, Dahl-Thurston beat 20 other candidates to become the 78th woman to hold the title of Miss Hawaii.
For her performance in the talent round Dahl-Thurston delivered a poem she had written about her struggle to deal with her mother’s death from stage four ovarian cancer two years ago.
“One of the things I learned when I was healing from that loss was that my pain wasn’t just that, (but) there was so much more under (the pain),” Dahl-Thurston said. “I hope that by sharing my story it would encourage more people to be courageous and dive into their pain because there’s actually healing there. So many people keep it locked in — and I did for many years — but I finally found liberation through journaling, which is really why I chose poetry as my talent because it’s just pages from my journal. I can’t believe it resonated with people but that was the whole goal.”
Dahl-Thurston is the fourth Miss Hawaii to receive the title under the new rules that have contestants display their health and fitness wearing sports bras and skintight leggings in place of a traditional pageant swimsuit.
Dahl-Thurston won the separate category award for lifestyle and fitness, the Candes Meijide Gentry talent award for her spoken word performance, and, of course, the opportunity to represent Hawaii at the 2004 Miss America Pageant later this year.
Miss Kailua Hayley Cheyney-Kane was first runner-up. The second runner-up spot went to Miss Hilo Sarah Barry. Miss Ko’olina Maka‘ala Perry was third runner-up. Fourth runner-up was Miss West O’ahu Brittni Friedlander.
The contestants were judged on their ability to stay on subject while answering a random question on stage, and their performance in the talent, lifestyle and fitness, and evening gown competitions
They were also scored on their performance in private interviews with the judges earlier in the week
Looking forward into her reign as Miss Hawaii, Dahl-Thurston is launching her non-profit Kahua Collective as an after school program where the life lessons she’s learned will inspire others.
“The whole idea is translate this incredible experience of pageantry where women are being uncomfortable, and being pushed outside of their (comfort) zones, and they’re discovering new versions of themselves — even better versions. I want to translate that into an accessible space for young girls so that they can start their life — in the world and in college and anything that they go to — knowing that they are capable of more than they ever dreamed that they were.”