Published : Monday, July 2, 2018 | 5:29 AM
Pasadena radio station KPCC’s production manager and Pasadena resident Rita Pardue was selected as this year’s Ms. Senior California during the annual pageant at the University of San Diego’s Joan Croc Institute for Peace and Justice Theater.
The annual pageant shows off singing and dancing talents, evening gown modeling and the wisdom of women ages 60 and older. Five judges evaluate the contestants on talent, a statement on their philosophy of life and other criteria.
Pardue, 66, was chosen out of eight talented women who competed during the pageant June 10, where she sang “I’ve Got the Music in Me.”
Recalling how she got to decide the join the competition, Pardue said she learned about the senior pageant from a friend in New Jersey whose daughter, a regular pageant participant, visited her in Pasadena.
“She actually landed a Disney show and she was cast in a Nickelodeon show and as they were finishing up, she was preparing for her next pageant,” Pardue said.
Her friend’s daughter encouraged to finally try out for the California senior pageant in 2017, where Pardue came out Ms. Senior California first runner-up.
She came back to the pageant this year and took the Ms. Senior Ventura County title in April before going on to the state competition.
“I’m just so thrilled. I’m here to encourage other seniors and veterans and I hope you can help me to be able to reach more people and give them words of encouragement and help,” Pardue said. “I think in these times, people really can use that.”
Pardue has over 20 years experience in radio and has expertise in fundraising, writing, presentation, production and media campaign expertise. Before coming to KPCC, she was KKLA’s “Midday LA” host from 1998 to 2004. Her assignments have taken her to China, Indonesia, Japan and North Korea, where she was a guest of the state.
She also does freelance work doing voice-overs, teaching audio production and vocal coaching. As s community volunteer, she has been working with the Lake Avenue Community Foundation for six years, helping in a mentoring program where she’s paired with a young Latina girl who had just completed her first year of college.
As Ms. Senior California, Pardue plans to travel to senior centers and hospitals throughout the state to help fellow seniors. Pardue is also part of Classis Divas, whose members have been title holders in the Ms. Senior California pageant system.
“We are invited to perform at different places. Last year, we sang at the San Diego Fair and we sang at the Orange County fair and then we sing at different retirement communities,” she said. “So I’m just hoping that we can get the Classic Divas up here in Pasadena or wherever anyone would like us to bring some entertainment.”
She has also committed to reading before school children and is doing Saturday morning sessions in Pasadena and Altadena, telling the children her story of growing up in the Midwest and moving to California later in life.
Pardue is also an actor, musician, and vocalist. Her credits include the CBS film “When The Circus Came to Town,” PBS “Math Facts,” and WB’s “Unhappily Ever After,” to mention a few. In the 1990s, she was the voice of Mrs. Aahs and a host of other characters on Children’s Broadcasting Corporation’s “Radio Aahs.”
Pardue is the author of the children’s book “The Nothing-To-Do Funshop,” and a narrator for several of the popular “Hello Kitty” children’s books. A few highlights from her career include singing with the original cast of “Jubilee” in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel and performing with the Hollywood Bowl Easter Choir from 2008 to 2011.
Her volunteer work has included 16 years PTA, five years as a Second Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol, seven years as a Little League team mom, a worship leader and praise band singer at her church, a beach clean-up worker, Operation Gratitude worker, and spokesperson for World Vision and Food For The Poor ministries.
The Ms. Senior California pageant is administered by Ms. Senior America California Inc., whose CEO, Elvia Harris, was herself a pageant competitor. Harris is into her fifth year as CEO.
“It’s a fabulous thing, because senior women bring so much to the table,” Harris said. “We have lived a great life – we have raised a family and we have run businesses, we’ve done many things. For instance, we were singers or dancers or artists or authors. Now that we have the time. I call it my time, it’s my turn, and you could pursue all of those fun, wonderful things that you put away maybe in the closet until maybe all of your big responsibilities were over. It’s a wonderful time.”
Pardue will be taking part in the Ms. Senior America national competition in Atlantic City this October.
“I just would love to encourage any woman that would like to get involved over the age of 60,” she said. “Years ago, I was a professional singer. I hadn’t been actively doing that and to get back into it and give dance routines and sing and bring joy to people at these retirement communities and hospitals and singing in the O.C. fair, I mean that was awesome.”
To learn more about Rita Pardue, visit her website, www.ritapardue.com.