Ward, 66, the reigning Ms. Senior D.C., will pass on the crown at the 2012 Ms. Senior D.C. Pageant on Sunday, June 24. Nine District women age 60 and older will compete. The event is at 2:30 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia.
Have you ever been in a pageant before?
I'd never been in a pageant in my life. I backed out 10 times. I kept a journal. "Today I'm quitting." But I was too scared to tell anybody. During rehearsals, you have people tell you what to do. I had a little problem at first with criticism, but never talked about it in the open. I saw, later on, that they were helping me to try to strive for perfection. And it made me a better person.
Did you have a talent?
That was the part that made me say, "I'm not going to do it." My mentor said, "You have a talent. Think about it." I remembered that I once was at an event in the Dominican Republic when the emcee told me to come up on the stage. He throws me a Michael Jackson jacket and a hat and said, "Now you have to dance." I knew how to do the moonwalk [and some other moves] and I went across the stage skipping. The audience laughed and picked me as the winner.
My mentor said, "Well, do Michael Jackson." I practiced day and night. I leave Emma P. Ward behind and I become Michael Jackson.
What's the best thing about being Ms. Senior D.C.?
One of the greatest highlights was meeting the people who are 100 years old and better. People who are still very active. Some had 100 grandchildren, some were married 75 years. Those are some high rollers. I've had chance to meet people who I know I would've never met otherwise. I have grown so much.