The 2012 Miss America Pageant promises to be a vibrant, colorful and exciting event, and the esteemed panel of national judges provides a diverse team from the worlds of entertainment, beauty, fitness and journalism. Lara Spencer, Lifestyle Anchor for Good Morning America revealed the panel of judges on this morning’s show. This year’s group of seven judges includes an accomplished dancer and musician, an international journalist, a talented reality TV producer, the matriarch of one of the most recognized families in Hollywood, a successful actress, a fitness pioneer, and a popular journalist. Each judge will evaluate the contestants from the preliminaries through the final night of competition, which will broadcast live from Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT) on ABC.
The contestants vying for the title of Miss America exemplify all that is best in today’s modern woman. Miss America must be talented, intelligent and well-spoken, she is a leader with a strong commitment to her community, she understands the importance of health and fitness, and she is a role model for millions of women not only for her spot-on sense of style and fashion, but also because she has become a relatable “it girl” who can connect with today’s contemporary woman. This year’s panel of judges is comprised of experts who focus on all of the categories in which each of the young women must excel to be named Miss America.
From the Field of Performing Arts- Mark Ballas – A lifelong dancer and musician, Emmy nominated Mark has wowed viewers on ABC’s, Dancing with the Stars, for nine seasons, winning two mirror ball trophies (Season 6 with Kristi Yamaguchi and Season 8 with Shawn Johnson). Mark’s debut solo album HurtLoveBox was released by Hit Play Records – Sony Red. His first single “Hotwire” won Best Freshman Video on MTV and has been put in rotation on the network. Born in Houston to a family of international dance stars, Mark moved to London as a child; he attended the world-renowned Italia Conti Performing Arts School. Here, he not only danced, but also was required to sing, act and play an instrument. By age 12 he was writing and performing his own music, playing guitar, drums and bass. As an actor, Mark has played the lead in the musical Copacabana and took on roles in the UK tour of Maria de Buenos Aires, and The Buddy Holly Musical. In television, he has guest starred on Melissa and Joey and Samantha Who? When Mark isn’t performing, he is passionate about speaking to school-age kids about acceptance, sparked by his Uncle David’s suicide nine years ago. Through the grieving process, Mark and his mother Shirley began to align themselves with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They formed The Ballas Foundation and are committed to removing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.
From the Field of Communications – Raúl de Molina - Raúl is the multiple Emmy award-winning co-host of Univision networks #1 rated entertainment news show El Gordo y La Flaca, which has more viewers on its time slot than ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX combined. He is the author of the bestselling La Dieta del Gordo and one of the original contributors to the Huffington Post’s Food and Latino Voices sections. Raul continues to write regular columns. Raúl was born in Cuba, grew up in Spain, and arrived in the United States at the age of 16. After graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Raúl worked for the Associated Press as a freelance photographer during the 1980’s. His photographs have been published in Time, Life, Newsweek and Paris Match, among others. In 2008, he was chosen by People en Espanol as one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States.
From the Field of Star Power – Mike Fleiss - Mike is founder of Next Entertainment and executive producer of The Bachelor franchise, which also includes The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad, and will serve as executive producer of H8R. His credits include High School Reunion, The Cougar, There Goes the Neighborhood, Hitched or Ditched, More to Love and Leave it to Lamas. With a multi-year deal with Warner Horizon Television to create original series for network, syndication and cable, Mike is a leading producer of reality programming. He has created over three dozen series and produced over 300 hours of primetime television. In addition to his work in TV, he co-directed the documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, and received a Best New Director nomination. Mike shares a producing credit on the upcoming feature Shark Night 3D. He also produced the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, as well as Poseidon for Warner Bros. and the Hostel movies. He was recently awarded the Reality Rocks Humanitarian Award for his contributions and charitable efforts, including “Bachelor Gives Back,” which supports various nonprofit organizations that enrich and empower communities around the world. He actively supports the Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Mike has authored Sports with an Attitude: The World’s Most Irreverent Sports Quiz Book and Show Biz with an Attitude: The World’s Most Irreverent Entertainment Quiz Book.
From the Field of Beauty – Kris Jenner - Kris is the Star, Creator, and Executive Producer, along with Ryan Seacrest, of Keeping Up With the Kardashians for E!. The show wrapped its sixth season, and enjoys the title of, “Highest Rated and Most Watched Telecast ever on E!.” Kris also produces Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Khloé and Lamar. In her new memoir, Kris Jenner…And All Things Kardashian, she writes about her relationships, her kids, and her intimate connection to the O.J. Simpson trial. She is the president of her own Production Company, Jenner Communications, and for the last 20 years she has been manager for her husband and Olympic Gold medalist, Bruce Jenner’s motivational speaking tour. Kris also manages the careers of her six children. Kris has enjoyed success as a host and correspondent on The Insider, and has appeared on numerous television shows. She is an avid spokesperson and supporter of numerous charities including the Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Awareness, Make-A-Wish, and serves on the board of The Dream Foundation. Kris owns and operates numerous businesses including PerfectSkin and QuickTrim, and develops many successful brands for her daughters, such as the Kim Kardashian Fragrance, Unbreakable by Khloe and Lamar, and a Global Lifestyle Line for Sears. Kim and Kris are the spokespersons for Skechers Shape-Ups. Kris and all of her daughters have their own line of nail polish for Nicole by OPI called Kardashian Kolor. The widely successful line has sold out in several major retailers. For Kris, her favorite role will always be wife and mother. Along with her six children, Kris also enjoys spending time with her grandson, Mason. Kris lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and two youngest daughters Kendall and Kylie.
From the Field of Talent – Teri Polo - Teri currently stars as Theresa Hayden Keen on ABC’s Man Up! She is best known for her role as Pam in the Meet the Parents theatricals. She recently starred in The Little Fockers, the third installment of the movie franchise, and has completed production on Beyond to be released in 2012. Currently she is shooting the Lifetime movie Jayne’s Story, which will air in early 2012. Teri was seen in the Hallmark movie, Taste of Romance, and has been recurring on Law & Order: Los Angeles. Other film credits include, The Hole, and the miniseries, The Storm, both released in 2010. Earlier credits include Beyond Borders, The Unsaid, and Domestic Disturbance. She also co-starred in Meet the Parents, for which she won a People’s Choice Award, and its sequel, Meet the Fockers. Originally from Dover, DE, Teri began her performing career as a dancer. By age 13 she was attending New York’s School of Ballet. The summer before her senior year, she was signed to a modeling contract, which led to a role on Loving. Teri made her primetime debut in the series TV 101. Television audiences may remember her as Michelle Capra in Northern Exposure. She also starred in the comedy series I’m with Her, as well as David E. Kelley’s The Wedding Bells. Other TV credits include Hallmark’s Love Is a Four-Letter Word, the original film Second String, and the television movie Straight from the Heart. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role opposite Jimmy Smits on The West Wing. Teri currently lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her family.