Tami Farrell was born to be a beauty queen. The daughter of a former pageant director, she won her first major title in 2002 when she was crowned Miss Oregon Teen USA. Her victory earned her the right to compete at the Miss Teen USA pageant in Palm Springs, where she blew away the competition yet again, winning both Miss Congeniality and Miss Teen USA honors. Farrell made the most of her victory by going on to raise $21 million for her selected charities, easily surpassing the fund-raising highs set by her predecessors. She also branched out into modeling with appearances in a number of glossy publications including YM, Allure and Teen Vogue. “I walked the runways for New York’s Fashion Week, mastered the red carpet at premieres and parties and even became friends with celebrities,” she says. “I lived that entire year in a dream.”
Following her reign, Tami Farrell relocated to California to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an actress and singer. Although she failed to secure a recording contract at first, she did produce a demo CD of contemporary rock songs and worked closely with Christian recording artists Sonic Flood on a CD project. Farrell also remained intimately involved in the pageant scene, appearing as a celebrity judge at a number of state competitions.
Tami Farrell returned to pageant competition in 2009 when she was named Miss Malibu USA and later came second to San Diego native Carrie Prejean at the Miss California USA pageant. Our story would likely have ended there were it not for Prejean’s costly gaffe at the Miss USA pageant on April 19, 2009. Asked by celebrity judge Perez Hilton whether California should legalize gay marriage, Prejean boldly replied: “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.” Although her answer elicited a positive response from the assembled crowd, it left judges divided and they ultimately decided to award the crown to North Carolina’s Kristen Dalton.
Carrie Prejean added more fuel to the fire the following day when she told reporters that she felt as though she had been robbed of her title for expressing her true beliefs. “I feel like I won,” she told Access Hollywood. “I feel like I’m the winner. I really do. My [answer] cost me my crown.” Her comments angered many members of the liberal media including Perez Hilton himself, who called her a “dumb bitch” in a scorching video blog. She was also publicly denounced by Miss California USA Co-Chairwoman Shanna Moakler and E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, who brazenly labeled her an “ignorant disgrace.”
Just when it appeared as though Carrie Prejean would be able to resume her life, she was involved in another controversy on May 4, 2009, when a topless photo of her appeared on the website TheDirty.com. The photo, which was allegedly taken when she was 17, prompted an immediate investigation by the Miss USA pageant into whether Prejean had violated a contract clause against posing “nude or partially nude.” The issue was further complicated when other questionable photos of Prejean also began to surface. Pageant officials finally relieved Prejean of her duties for good on June 10, 2009, citing a “breach of contract” as the reason for her dismissal.
With Prejean out of the picture, pageant officials promptly rang up Tami Farrell and offered her the position of Miss California USA. “It was definitely a crazy phone call to receive,” Farrell admits, “but I’m excited to represent the state.” Now that her position is secure, Farrell has a great deal she wants to accomplish. “I have a lot of events and appearances lined up,” she says. “I also do a lot of work with this charity called Sparrow Club that helps kids with medical needs. I’m really hoping I can focus on that, as well as other charities aligned with the Miss Universe Organization.” She’s also hoping to use her notoriety to advance her career. “A couple of my favorite music groups have called, because I sing, so maybe we could record something together,” she says. If that doesn’t work out Farrell has a script she’s written for Will Ferrell. “All I can tell you is that it’s hilarious and that if Will Ferrell or (director) Adam McKay could give me a call, things would be wonderful,” she says.