Miss Oklahoma 2020: The Making of a Fairy Tale

Featured Image of Miss Oklahoma USA
Author: C.L. Harmon
Date Published: November 25, 2020

Miss Oklahoma Rags to Riches

It’s a Cin­derel­la sto­ry of sorts, a rags-to-on-her-way-to-rich­es sto­ry. The par­al­lels between this dri­ven young lady and the fabled Cin­derel­la are uncan­ny, with one excep­tion Mari­ah Jane Davis needs no Prince Charm­ing to achieve the hap­pi­ly ever after. At the ten­der age of 25, Davis has dis­cov­ered that the glass slip­per is, at the very least, always half full.

Grow­ing up in the Okla­homa City area, Davis, her sis­ter Erin and her moth­er, Sheila lived a low-income exis­tence and relied on free Indi­an Health Care as the fam­i­ly are mem­bers of the Choctaw Nation. It was a time of strug­gle, Davis recalls. But it was also some­thing else, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see what hard work and per­se­ver­ance can pro­vide. Her moth­er was that exam­ple. Davis wit­nessed the pow­er that lies in deter­mi­na­tion, grit, and faith in one’s self. 

It was a home filled with love and lessons that would be her spring­board to her suc­cess­es. After many years of strug­gles, her moth­er would take a leap of faith and leave her low-pay­ing employ­ment. She began work­ing in real estate from her home, which turned out to be a rever­sal of for­tune for this strug­gling sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­ly. She had learned that suc­cess was always pos­si­ble from her moth­er, even if not close.

Mari­ah Jane Davis, Miss Okla­homa USA 2020, on stage in fash­ion by Sher­ri Hill, an offi­cial spon­sor of the 2020 Miss USA com­pe­ti­tion, at the Miss USA Pre­lim­i­nary Com­pe­ti­tions, on Novem­ber 6, 2020, at Grace­land in Mem­phis, Tennessee.

“My mom was my exam­ple that you can start with noth­ing and build some­thing if you’re will­ing to work hard. And I was able to see what work­ing hard looks like through my mom,” she said. Soon after, the fam­i­ly finances were on the upswing with her mother’s busi­ness suc­cess and, with it, a move at the age of 13. The fam­i­ly moved to Moore, Oklahoma. 

Pivotal Moment

This was a piv­otal move for the bud­ding teen who had only known the low-income exis­tence. It forced her to start over much the same way her moth­er had done. It was a new envi­ron­ment and, although a bit fright­en­ing to start over, it was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to grow and cul­ti­vate many of the peo­ple skills that would become so valu­able when she began pur­su­ing the dream of becom­ing Miss Oklahoma.

“I start­ed dream­ing big at a very young age and believ­ing it was pos­si­ble to achieve my dreams,” she said. As most young adults do, she real­ized ear­ly that hav­ing dreams is a des­ti­na­tion and not a road map. She desired suc­cess in life but did not know what that looked like for her life. 

How­ev­er, she knew that she want­ed as much out of life as pos­si­ble and that ‘direc­tion’ was the start­ing point to get there. She admits that through most of her years in high school, she lacked that direc­tion to go along with her desire. And to make mat­ters worse, life had thrown her the curve­ball of clin­i­cal depres­sion cou­pled with anxiety. 

For dream chasers, the most dif­fi­cult part is often find­ing that start­ing point even to begin pur­su­ing those dreams. Depres­sion often wors­ens with its role of play­ing keep-away with find­ing that start­ing point. This was no dif­fer­ent for Davis. And yet, she was able to remain focused and, as a junior in high school, fought her melan­choly moods and decid­ed to go after the title of Miss Okla­homa Teen USA. She worked hard, and it paid off when she placed sec­ond run­ner up. She achieved the same hon­or the fol­low­ing year. And though she had not won the title, she won some­thing greater, that elu­sive start­ing point as to how to start pur­su­ing a dream.

Ini­tial­ly, after her sec­ond run­ner-up hon­ors, she had planned to use her momen­tum to move to the big leagues and pur­sue the title of Miss Okla­homa the fol­low­ing year. But with­in that year and her entrance into col­lege, Davis began think­ing about the awe­some respon­si­bil­i­ties of hold­ing such an impor­tant posi­tion and being a role mod­el for many oth­er young women who might want to pur­sue com­pe­ti­tion in pageants. 

She was only 19 and in her heart was aware that she knew too lit­tle about life to hold such a posi­tion. She instead decid­ed to focus on col­lege and allow time and expe­ri­ence to bring her to a place where she felt she was the best per­son for that role and poten­tial­ly for Miss USA after earn­ing that honor.

Mari­ah Jane Davis, Miss Okla­homa USA 2020, com­pet­ing on stage in a Sher­ri Hill gown, an offi­cial spon­sor of the 2020 Miss USA com­pe­ti­tion, dur­ing the Top 5 ques­tion round and final walk, at the Miss USA Com­pe­ti­tion, on Novem­ber 7, 2020, at Grace­land in Mem­phis Tennessee.


While grow­ing into that per­son, Davis con­tin­ued bat­tling her depres­sion, and much like Cinderella’s step­sis­ters who did every­thing in their pow­er to hin­der the hap­pi­ness of Cin­derel­la, depres­sion played the same role in Davis’ life. Although her ill­ness did play a role in her deci­sion to not com­pete dur­ing her years in col­lege, it also allowed her the time to con­tin­ue grow­ing as a per­son. This is some­thing she knew she need­ed to do before com­pet­ing for Miss Oklahoma. 

Depres­sion, how­ev­er, did not present such a pos­i­tive out­come on her col­lege career and would cause her sev­er­al issues, pro­long­ing her grad­u­a­tion by one year. Her men­tal bat­tles play into this mod­ern life fable because of Davis’ desire to over­come it by stay­ing true to her desire and focus­ing on achiev­ing her goals much the same way as Cin­derel­la did after her dress was destroyed by her stepsisters.

As a proud Native Amer­i­can and “Okie,” Davis has shown the spir­it of the Native peo­ples and their unwa­ver­ing desire to con­tin­ue and pros­per. She pushed through, pur­su­ing her pas­sion for film and media while in col­lege and con­tin­u­ing to grow into the per­son she felt would be the best ver­sion of her­self to be Miss Oklahoma. 

Movies had always been her men­tal escape. As such, a career in the enter­tain­ment field seemed a per­fect fit and became her third big dream to fol­low behind her sec­ond of com­pet­ing for Miss USA. But she had to achieve her first, being crowned Miss Okla­homa. That dream that had lain dor­mant for five years was about to awak­en, and awak­en it did!

After grad­u­at­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Okla­homa in 2019, she final­ly felt that she was at a point in her life where she was the per­son she need­ed to be to give the title of Miss Okla­homa with all of the wis­dom and respect the title deserves. 

In addi­tion, as is often life, her aspi­ra­tions in the enter­tain­ment indus­try were not as ini­tial­ly fruit­ful as she had hoped. And though dis­cour­aged, she believed that was a sign to fin­ish what she had start­ed with her pageant goals. With advice and sup­port from friends and fam­i­ly, she over­came her dis­cour­aged and depressed out­look and began prepar­ing to achieve her long­time goal. After much hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, she achieved that goal in Decem­ber of 2019.

Photos Submitted by Miss Davis
Mari­ah Jane Davis, Miss Okla­homa USA 2020, on stage in a Sher­ri Hill gown, an offi­cial spon­sor of the 2020 Miss USA com­pe­ti­tion, at the Miss USA Pre­lim­i­nary Com­pe­ti­tions, on Novem­ber 6, 2020, at Grace­land in Mem­phis, Tennessee.

“Final­ly win­ning Miss Okla­homa was my first time expe­ri­enc­ing a dream come true. At that moment, I could see years of hav­ing that dream, despite the obsta­cles, come to fruition,” Davis said.

Almost a year lat­er now, her reign soon comes to an end. And with that end­ing, Davis did pur­sue her sec­ond goal and recent­ly took her one shot in the Miss USA pageant. She placed sec­ond run­ner-up. Although she did not take the crown, she cer­tain­ly won the hearts of all those who have the courage and con­vic­tion to fol­low their dreams no mat­ter where they lead and how they end. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, con­tes­tants are only allowed to com­pete once, and so, with this part of her life now behind her, Davis is look­ing for­ward to pur­su­ing her lat­est dreams in the enter­tain­ment indus­try and mod­el­ing, ever hope­ful where these avenues will take her.

“I’m hope­ful and hun­gry. I’ve always had big dreams, and I plan to chase after every sin­gle one of them,” she said. Cur­rent­ly, Davis works in real­i­ty tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion in Okla­homa and con­tin­ues work­ing towards her dream of work­ing in enter­tain­ment news.

A final par­al­lel with the Cin­derel­la sto­ry, I think, is the belief that there are hap­py end­ings for those who believe in them­selves and are will­ing to accept the dis­ap­point­ments of life with grace. Like Davis, these are the peo­ple who are proud to wear worn-out sneak­ers while seek­ing glass slip­pers. And when the slip­per fits, a hap­pi­ly ever after is soon to follow.


C.L. Harmon

C.L. Harmon

C.L. is an award-winning journalist who spent many years in the newspaper and freelance fields. In addition to holding reporting and editing positions throughout his career, he also owned and operated a newspaper for several years. He was born, raised, and continues to reside in Oklahoma.


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