'Trophy Girl' - Former Miss Kentucky USA Maria Montgomery to deliver awards during CMAs

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Maria Montgomery says she feels a little silly calling herself a “trophy girl,” but that’s exactly what she will be Nov. 9.

The former Miss Kentucky USA, a Boyle County native, has been selected as one of two Trophy Girls for the Country Music Association Awards Show, which will be televised live at 8 p.m. on CMT). This gives central Kentucky not one but two direct connections to one of the industry’s top awards presentations. Eddie Montgomery and Montgomery Gentry have been nominated for Best Country Duo.

“I am hoping I’ll get the chance to deliver the award to him and Troy (Gentry),” said Montgomery, no relation to Eddie. “Please visit cmaawards.com.cmaworld.com/nominees to participate in the ‘fan vote’ for Duo of the Year to support our hometown star.”

As for the label of “trophy girl,” Montgomery said she can live with it.

“I feel silly calling myself a ‘trophy girl,’ but that’s what they call it!” said Montgomery, who also served as Miss Boyle County Fair, Miss Kentucky Fair and was a cheerleader at Boyle County High School. “I will be in charge of standing on stage during the CMAs along with one other girl to help present the trophies to the country music artists who win their individual divisions.”

Modeling career is expanding

Montgomery was chosen after going to an audition in Nashville.

“I was chosen by attending a casting in Nashville through my Nashville agency,” she said. “The audition consisted of me speaking to camera about my experience on stage, on television, and with celebrities. They wanted to make sure the trophy girls were comfortable around celebrities and wouldn’t freak out, which I thought was pretty funny.”

The CMA Show is just one more opportunity for Montgomery to show off in front of an audience. Since finishing as fourth runner-up in the 2009 Miss USA Pageant, the 22-year-old daughter of Garry and Susan Montgomery has been juggling life as a student, model, actress, and pageant coach and judge.

She’s currently one of 35 students attending Western Kentucky University’s Speech-Language Pathology online program after graduating with a B.A. from Eastern Kentucky University in May.

And her modeling career keeps expanding. She’s appeared in Tony Bowls dress ads in magazines such as Seventeen, PROM, and others geared toward young girls. She’s also in Sears clothing department catalogs, Dillard’s ads, Bon-Ton, and JCPenney.

“I also have worked in New York City multiple times for Pamella Roland, who is an evening gown designer whose gowns are common choices of Carrie Underwood, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and many other on the red carpet,” said Montgomery. “Two of my favorite runway shows have been for Marchesa and Isaac Mizrahi.”

Locally, Montgomery said she likes to model for area businesses that helped her climb her way up the pageant ladder.

“I love any local work I can get such as acting in commercials for Miss Priss Gowns, The Wedding Center, and I work for people who sponsored me during my year as Miss Kentucky USA, such as when I modeled for the commercial and website for KY Center for Orthodontics,” she said.

She’s been on the cover of Tops In Lex and recently did cover shoots for two upcoming fashion magazines: Gloss The Magazine and Unbridled.

On-camera interview work

Montgomery also does interview work for www.vaughtsviews.com in front of the camera.

“I have always played with the idea of being a news or sports broadcaster, so I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to put any interview skills I’ve gained through pageantry to use by interviewing the UK football and basketball players,” she said. “Additionally, I enjoy attending events such as the blue/white game and Big Blue Madness to write about my experiences for Larry’s blog. As a true UK fan, sitting in the press box of Big Blue Madness is enough to give me cold chills and to smile like a little girl.”

“Maria has been a valuable contributor to vaughtsviews.com. Her engaging personality makes it easy for athletes to talk to her and she has a way of getting them to talk about non-sports parts of their lives that fans like to know about,” said Larry Vaught, sports editor for The Advocate-Messenger. “She always takes a very professional approach to her work for us even though it’s obvious she truly enjoys what she is doing.

“It always amazes me how many folks know and recognize her from the Miss Kentucky and Miss USA pageants, and I’m just thrilled that she finds time to contribute in so many ways to vaughtsviews.com.”
She also maintains her own web site, www.modeledbymaria.com, with photos of her work and articles about her experiences as a student, model and pageant winner. Maria can be followed on Twitter at @Maria_M_KY09

Montgomery signed a modeling contract with Advantage Models and Talent of Nashville right after her year as Miss Kentucky USA, then competed in a convention called Actors, Models and Talent for Christ, which led to the discovery she likes acting.

“I discovered my love for acting and was named Overall Actress and Overall Model at AMTC,” she said. “I think sometimes it takes getting pushed out of your comfort zone to grow to your full potential. I like acting just as much as modeling now.”

Music Videos

Along with the modeling contracts, Montgomery recently appeared as Josh Groban’s love interest in a music video, chosen by Groban himself, and has had to turn down invitations to audition for videos by Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean due to scheduling conflicts.

“Almost everything in this industry is very last minute,” she said. “I often don’t know where I may be by the end of the week.”

She signed a contract with Ford Modeling of Chicago after the ANTM convention, and now drives regularly between her home in Danville and Chicago.

“Even though I moved up to Chicago the very next day after graduating college to spend the month of May living there for work, Danville is still where I live and call home,” said Montgomery. “Since I work in many cities, I don’t think it would be a good idea to pay for a Chicago apartment that I’d only be in during half the time. So, I’m staying home where I want to be and where I feel the most comfortable.”

Between hopping planes to New York, Chicago, Milwaukee and other places, Montgomery said it can be a daunting task to juggle the last-minute work calls and still fulfill her graduate school obligations.

“It gets stressful sometimes, not being able to attend the virtual classes when flight schedules or work interferes, but the classes are recorded, so I can watch them later,” she said. “I am just grateful that the material is presented via live-time lectures over the Internet. They even have a section of the screen that shows the teacher’s notes and another section for student’s comments and questions. It’s just like being in a campus class.”

Nov. 9, Maria’s friends and family in central Kentucky will get the chance to see her put her talents to work on a national stage in front of a TV audience with the CMA Awards. Has she picked out her outfit yet?

“Honestly, I’m not sure,” she said. “All I know as of now is that there are stylists in charge of the ‘trophy girls’ and that they seem to be planning a simple and short gown as opposed to a long gown, which will make moving a bit easier.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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