Becoming Mr. ASO: UNT students gear up for annual pageant

Becoming Mr. ASO: UNT students gear up for annual pageant

Becoming Mr. ASO: UNT students gear up for annual pageant
January 26
13:48 2019

A group of young men at UNT are about to begin the nearly two-month-long process to compete for the title of this year’s Mr. ASO, who is crowned through a lengthy pageant.

It all starts when the students submit their applications to the African Student Organization’s panel of officers for review. Chosen contestants will meet as a group and practice two to three times a week for the next month to focus on the different aspects of the pageant including dance, interview skills and public speaking.

“It’s kind of like a female’s pageant,” ASO vice president and pageant co-chair Bemnet Abera said. “We are using the same template but for males. It shows them that it’s not that easy to go on stage and to commit to all of these steps.”

The event is broken down into seven categories: the interview, a group dance and introductory speech, the talent portion, swimwear, formal wear, their country speech and the Q&A section. The most heavily weighted of these being the interview, which gives them the opportunity to showcase their personality and maturity to the panel.

Because this process can be time-consuming, it brings the men who are competing closer, forming what the group refers to as a brotherhood.

“I like this pageant because it’s not the normal female pageant,” pageant ambassador Jazmyne Watson said. “I like the idea of switching the gender roles and [getting] to emphasize your kings instead of just your queens. Our kings don’t get a lot of recognition most times. I like the idea of giving our boys something fun to do where they can feel appreciated.”

This pageant process can be a great time commitment for everyone involved, but ambassadors from last year said they could see the men’s transformation as the month went on.

“I saw them gain critical thinking skills,” Abera said. “They gain knowledgeable facts about their country, and overall you see them start to become more confident young men.”

Pageant contestants work on more than just self-presentation. They also dive deeper into their culture.

Each competitor is assigned a country in Africa to research, and on the day of the pageant, they present a speech which represents their country in a creative way. Last year’s winner even choreographed visuals to complement the spoken word he composed for his country.

Though this pageant is for the men, they have very little to do with the planning and the execution of the pageant. The women of the African Student Organization are actually the coordinators of the event.

“We train these guys,” Abera said. “The committee meets with the contestants about two times a week up until the actual pageant. It’s a very extensive process, but I think it’s very rewarding for everyone involved.”

Participants said being Mr. ASO is about more than getting the crown. This pageant gives them applicable interview experience, practice handling critical thinking questions and the opportunity to represent their organizations on campus.

ASO Man of the Year consists of four categories judged by a panel. Last year, marketing junior Daniel Ebomwonyi took the crown. Image by Dimaggio Escobedo.

“Something I always talk about is how usually when people come to university, the one thing that’s on their mind is, ‘How am I going to be able to fully show my personality and become a more confident person?’” marketing junior and 2018 Mr. ASO Daniel Ebomwonyi said. “The process of this pageant almost forces you to become the best version of yourself and really get yourself out there.”

The pageant started four years ago and has since become a very popular social event for the organization. But for the committee and ambassadors, this means they have their work cut out for them.

“It’s kind of like an actual job,” Watson said. “Everyone has their own duties and schedules, but it’s actually quite beneficial. Meeting everybody I have through this organization, my skills have been enhanced.”

The panel of women is responsible for coordinating the competitors’ different schedules, reserving rooms for meetings and practices, and attending practices to ensure all the boys are totally groomed for the event.

“[The pageant] has been pretty popular among young men who are members of African Student Organization,” Abera said. “It’s for those who really want to gain that professionalism and experience of public speaking and who are interested in getting challenged in that way. I think it’s a good way for them to practice and showcase their talents.”

Chosen participants begin practice on Feb. 3, after the committee makes its selections and posts the results. This gives everyone involved over a month to prepare for the pageant on March 27.

“The most rewarding thing about the pageant is you being able to fully express yourself and your personality,” Ebomwonyi said. “If you’re an introvert, you’re going to be an extrovert at the end of this pageant.”

Featured Image: Marketing junior Daniel Ebomwonyi is the reigning 2018 Mr. ASO. Image by Dimaggio Escobedo. 

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Talia Snow

Talia Snow

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