Kelley Johnson, the Miss America contestant representing Colorado, has made headlines this week for her very different approach to the pageant’s talent contest. Johnson decided not to sing or dance, as is traditional, but performed a monologue. Dressed in scrubs, Johnson explained how her talent is nursing and how she had encountered one patient, Joe, who was very special to her.
Ellen Degeneres at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards in January 2015.
"Although you say it all the time, you are not just a nurse,'' Johnson recalled Joe saying to her (via Today). "'You are my nurse, and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.' That's when it hit me. Patients are people with family and friends, and I don't want to be a nurse that ever pretends. Joe reminded me that day that I'm a lifesaver. I'm never going to be just a nurse."
Johnson’s monologue attracted plenty of attention, particularly on social media. However, although many praised her, there were others who were more critical. The View’s Joy Behar mocked Johnson for wearing a stethoscope during her monologue. Behar’s comments provoked outrage and a social media campaign, using #NursesUnite, began trending. Behar later apologised, claiming she didn’t even realise Johnson was a nurse and was “just not paying attention”.
Watch Johnson’s Miss America ‘Just A Nurse’ Monologue:
Johnson also attracted the attention of Ellen DeGeneres after Johnson announced DeGeneres would be the woman she would choose to appear on a U.S. bank note. Johnson made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday (17th September) and, in addition to complimenting DeGeneres, she took the opportunity to defend her monologue.
"I am a nurse and that's my talent – taking care of people, caring about other people, and so I wanted to give the nurses that don't have that voice that voice and that recognition of just somebody going up there and being a little bit different and unique,” Johnson told DeGeneres.
"I talked about a patient that I took care of that has Alzheimer's and I know that that hits home for a lot of people and it's not something that's really easy for people to talk about. And I just thought, you know, I want to go up there and I want to be authentic and I want to be Kelley, and if I'm ever going to win Miss America or win Miss Colorado I want to do it being myself, and I'm a nurse."
Watch Miss Colorado On The Ellen DeGeneres Show: