This mother-daughter pair won Miss Alabama 33 years apart.
Winning Miss Alabama is something a select few have achieved since the pageant started nearly a century ago. But for one Shelby County family, taking home the crown has become a bit of a tradition.
Both Callie Walker and her mother, Angela Tower Walker, have won Miss Alabama, making them the only mother-daughter pair to do so. Not only that, but they were also the only mother and daughter to make the Top 10 in the Miss America competition.
“We didn’t really think about it when it happened, but we made history,” says Callie, who won in 2018.
Angela, the ballet director at Birmingham Dance Theatre, won Miss Alabama in 1985 and says it’s been a blast sharing the crown with her daughter. But before they shared the bond of being sisters within the organization, they also held the titles of student and mentor.
Angela is Callie’s ballet teacher and choreographer, and she also worked with Callie on her interview skills, current events, walk and presentation on stage. “We’ve done this [preparing for Miss Alabama] for four years, so it’s hard to say we could get any closer than we already are,” Angela says.
Having her mother in her corner throughout this process has been invaluable, Callie says. “To have a mom who is a former Miss Alabama as a mentor, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything,” Callie says. “I had an all-around support system and coach.”
But while pageants are in her blood — her sister, Scarlett, won Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen, as well — Callie’s path to the crown wasn’t always certain. After being named the first runner-up two years in a row, Callie wasn’t sure if she wanted to compete in Miss Alabama again. She decided she would make the 2018 competition her last, giving her a different mindset this time around.
“The end result would have been great no matter what. It’s truly been a special opportunity,” Callie says.
So when Callie won Miss Alabama last June, that made the moment that much more special.
“It was pure elations seeing Callie win Miss Alabama. To see the excitement, joy and somewhat relief on her face meant everything,” Angela says. “She had worked so hard for the last four years competing in the Miss Alabama pageant. To see the culmination of all of those efforts come together in that really special moment, it meant the world to me, and of course to our family.”
During her reign, this 2015 Oak Mountain High School graduate has made a variety of appearances and attended events across the state, including pageants, parades and festivals.
Callie has also visited schools where she reads books to the younger children and speaks to the higher grades about perseverance and her platform, “Let’s Talk Trash: Green Kids for a Green Planet.”
“I get to meet amazing people across the state of Alabama and visit places I never would have known existed,” Callie says.
To help Callie make the most from her reign, Angela shared her thoughts and experiences on what it means to hold the title.
“My advice to Callie was, ‘As Miss Alabama, it’s really not about you. It’s more about your service, your service to the community and making each person feel that you’ve reached out to them individually as Miss Alabama — to really focus and pay attention to each person that you have the opportunity to spend time with and speak to,” Angela says.
Callie says she’s taken that advice to heart and works to make the most of the platform she’s been given.
“She has given me the words of wisdom to soak up every moment. You only get 365 days to wear a sparkly hat,” Callie says. “My pageant world is coming to an end, and I’ll crown the next Miss Alabama soon. I’m just trying to make an impact in people’s lives every day.”
After winning Miss Alabama, Callie continued to follow in her mother’s footsteps and competed in Miss America last September. Callie says she got emotional when she thought about performing at Miss America in Atlantic City, NJ. The competition had been held in Las Vegas for several years, but it recently returned to Atlantic City, which is where her mother walked the stage three decades earlier.
“Only 33 years before, my mom got to perform a ballet en pointe on the Miss America stage,” Callie recalls. “It’s mind-blowing that we got to dance on the same stage,” Callie recalls. “To go to Miss America is amazing, but to go to Miss America where my mom danced — it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Callie finished in the Top 10 when she competed in 2018, and Angela was the fourth runner-up to Miss America and won the swim suit award.
While she has enjoyed her time as Miss Alabama and competing at Miss America, Callie says she’s looking forward to going back to school this fall at the University of Alabama. She’s studying musical theatre and plans to move to New York City to pursue her dream on Broadway, which is what her older sister is doing now.
“My sister has been a mentor, just like my mom,” Callie says. “My sister has given me insight into what the musical theatre world really is like.”
Callie also won the chance to study abroad through Miss Alabama, and she plans to go to London during the fall of 2020. “It’s been a whirlwind,” Callie says. “It’s been everything I expected and nothing I expected.”
Although her reign and pageant days are nearly behind her, Callie says she’s enjoyed all of her experiences and is excited about what’s to come.
“It’s a bittersweet ending. This year has been so rewarding, just being on my own,” Callie says. “I don’t think I’ve ever grown so much in a year.”