Behind the Scenes With the Tournament's Royal Court as Princesses Prepared for Tuesday's Coronation, And the Year Ahead

Published : Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 5:35 AM

The seven 2020 Royal Court Rose Princesses named Sept. 30 have spent the last three weeks learning what it takes to master the poise and perfection they will need to go before millions in person and on television during the Rose Parade and over 100 other events.

On Tuesday, all that preparation will culminate in the coronation of one of the seven Princesses as Rose Queen.

Pasadena Now sat down with the Royal Court at Tournament House late last week to learn out about the training, fittings, and team-building the young women have undergone during their “Celebrity 101” crash course.

From the moment the members of the Royal Court are announced, life changes, Princesses on the 2020 Royal Court said.

“The announcement day was just fantastic,” said Princess Michael Wilkins, a senior at Maranatha High School, who said over the past few weeks she has bonded with her six fellow Royal Court members.

“I was able to meet the fabulous other court members, and it was so exciting and a positive atmosphere. The first three days of training were compacted with a lot of fun. So we had fittings at Macy’s, we had etiquette training, speech training, and we had leadership training.”

Since being named to the Royal Court, it’s been a whirlwind for the young women who range across many different backgrounds and personalities. and between the “getting to know you,” and the traditional retreat, and activities, the Princesses all seemed to enjoy meeting Liana Yamasaki, the 1993 Rose Queen, who gave the group etiquette lessons.

“We actually weren’t required to put books on our head and walk in a straight line,” said Princess Cole Fox, a senior at South Pasadena High School, with a smile. “But in preparation for our dinner last Thursday, we had to practice going down the stairs and not trip in our heels. We learned to bend the knees and keep your core strong and have good posture.”

The importance of the etiquette lessons did not go unappreciated. The Princesses seemed to agree that in 2019 it’s all great training they wouldn’t ordinarily receive in their everyday, social-media drive lives.

“In social media we’re trying to adhere to a different standard,” said Princess Rukan Saif, a senior at Arcadia High School.

“I think what Ms. Yamasaki said, etiquette is really about treating others with respect,” said Princess Rukan Saif, a senior at Arcadia High School.

Princess Emilie Risha agreed.

“Ms. Yamasaki particularly emphasized that etiquette and having good manners is about nuance,” she said. “At its core, it’s really about respect. If you act with the most dignified manners, it shows respect to the people that you’re with and the person or people who are hosting you.”

Working together with the other members of the Royal Court — young women who have only been together for less than a month — has also been a new journey, said Princess Camille Kennedy, a senior at La Salle College Prep.

“One of the challenges is learning how to work as a new unit,” she said. “Beforehand, we were 25 finalists. We weren’t competing against each other but there was no sense of camaraderie. It has been interesting learning how to navigate and build new relationships to sustain and thrive in for the next few months.”

In addition to learning hair and makeup techniques, there was training in the interview process and there was also media training so the Royal Court members could learn to polish up their media presence.

“From the second you are announced as a Royal Court member you become an ambassador to the city and you become a symbol of what makes Pasadena special,” said Princess Mia Thorsen, a senior at Marshall Fundamental School.

“It really is ‘Celebrity 101.’ You learn how to pose with people. or what side of your face works best on camera. One of my favorite things we learned was that sarcasm doesn’t [work] everywhere, which was difficult for me because sarcasm is a vital part of my diction and I had to abandon that.”

But overall, Princess Mia said, “it’s been a positive experience for all of us so far.”

For Princess Reese Rosental Saporito, a senior at Marshall Fundamental School and varsity athlete, learning hair and makeup techniques for the camera was important.

“There have been various hair consultations, and we got our hair cut and dyed if it needed to be,” she said. “We also met with makeup people. The first time they were just talking to us and getting a feel for what we knew, and what we needed to learn. Everybody we’ve worked with [on] makeup and hair, they’re really good at what they do. Not all of us have done that kind of makeup before so it was a really important part.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy senior Princess Emilie Risha said meeting the President of the Tournament of Roses Laura Farber was a great experience.

“President Farber came and spoke to us, and those lessons touched me a lot,” she said. “Obviously, I had seen the Rose Parade and I’m familiar with the Tournament — but I didn’t know so much incredible work went into it. Having President Farber speak to us was meaningful.”

Princess Camille Kennedy, a senior at La Salle College Preparatory, said the experience so far has been enlightening on several levels.

“Going into this process I didn’t have a good grasp of what went on behind closed doors with the Tournament,” she said. “But learning about the dedication of the staff and volunteers has given me more respect for them and the process. It’s been very informative.”

The training was not designed to change the court members, Fox said, but rather to lift them up.

“I don’t think this training is a way to change us,” she said. “But I do believe the training is helping elevate who I am as a person. This experience has given me confidence in myself. Not only was I chosen one of seven girls out of 700, but being around such supportive people and the Court and the Committee has lifted my spirit.”

The Announcement and Coronation of the 102nd Rose Queen and presentation of the Royal Court are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S El Molino Ave., Pasadena. To get tickets, click here

Special thanks to Candy Carlson, Senior Manager, Communications, Pasadena Tournament of Roses

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