Orange County native Autumn McAlpin got the inspiration for her feature-film debut from the time she worked with residents of a San Clemente women’s shelter. Miss Arizona follows former pageant queen Rose Raynes (played by Johanna Braddy), now a bored mother and housewife, after she is asked to become a life-skills coach at a local women’s shelter. Just as happened to McAlpin, Rose finds she has much to learn from the women she’s supposed to be teaching.
“These women changed me, and I wanted to bring their stories and the stories of millions of women like them to a broader audience,” said McAlpin.
The film takes a slightly darker turn when Rose and some women from the shelter fall into trouble on the dark streets of Los Angeles. As they fight to survive, the women form an unbreakable friendship. “In our story, our women—our team—come together to fight important battles, to forge unlikely friendships, to give and realize love,” McAlpin said.
As a former pageant queen herself, McAlpin experienced firsthand the rigid rules of beauty pageants, as well as how women based their own self-worth on others’ perceptions. “I wanted to make a film that showed one such trophy wife finding empowerment through the examples of other women she meets—who are suffering from other forms of abuse—as they all band together to find what they need most,” McAlpin said.
Throughout the creative process, McAlpin worked with her co-producers, DeAnna Cooper and Michael McAlpin, to integrate a theme of empowerment into the film. “It is my honor to share this story with the world, with the hopes that Miss Arizona will empower those who need it most,” said McAlpin, who is currently developing a medieval television series as well as several comedy dramas.
Since its premiere in 2018, the film has won awards at such prestigious film festivals as the Bentonville Film Festival, Naples International Film Festival and the Rome International Film Festival.
In addition to being available via On Demand and streaming services, Miss Arizona will screen in select theaters nationwide on July 12. To celebrate, McAlpin and the cast and crew will appear that night at a meet-up at the AMC Block at Orange.
Miss Arizona was written and directed by Autumn McAlpin; and stars Johanna Braddy, Robyn Lively, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Shoniqua Shandai and Otmara Marrero.
Boston University ’22 | Journalism