As the lights dimmed, 12 men held their breath, their friends and families waiting eagerly for the big announcement that would catapult one of their careers and launch a year-long commitment to representing the title of Mr. Earth USA 2007. The top five finalists dwindled down to two and finally, one man, Damian Raven emerged as the winner.
“I really wanted this!” Raven, 33, exclaimed just moments after being crowned. Along with the title, he’s also the recipient of a $1,000.00 prize.
He was joined on stage by his teenaged son who reacted to his father’s victory with a simple “It’s cool.”
Perhaps it’s his bond with his son that made Raven sensitive to the issues facing children today. When asked onstage what is the number one conflict in American society that he wants to change and why, Raven replied that he knows the obvious choice is war, but made it clear that what our youth is experiencing is very difficult. Claiming that it takes a village to raise a child, he went on to say that he’d like to change the conflict with kids because they’re fighting for their own place in this world.
An actor in TV commercials since the age of six and currently a writer and actor on the Here TV series, “The D.L. Chronicles,” Raven chose to showcase his singing and songwriting abilities for the talent portion of the competition. Letting his sentimental side shine through, he performed an original song he wrote for his best friend’s wedding. The ballad moved the audience and wowed the judges enough to vote him the winner of the talent portion of the competition before the question and answer portion eventually cinched him the title. Raven is now set to start production on “The Cash Collectors”, produced by Nevada Films.
First runner-up, Michael Wade, also impressed the audience with his talent for acting, which he demonstrated in an emotional monologue from the play “Closer.” He may not have won the talent award, but he impressed the judges in just about every other aspect of the competition, winning the awards for Best in Casual Wear, Best in Beachwear, and eventually, the second place prize. Wade also secured the audience vote and was named Mr. Popularity during the pageant.
The award for Best in Formal wear went to the second runner-up, M. Christopher Lee, a former Iraq War veteran who admitted that his proudest achievement is surviving Iraq.
The award for Most Photogenic went to Korken Alexander.
Celebrating ethnic diversity and showing the flexibility of man towards the many issues of life, this marked the first annual Mr. Earth USA competition, though franchise pageants are held in other countries, including China, Australia, and Malaysia.
The twelve contestants vying for the USA title, competed in Casual Wear, Beach Wear, Formal Wear and Talent while the top five finalists were also judged in an on-stage question and answer session.
The pageant took place at the Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood and was hosted by Glenn J. Paigemon and Marianne Fritz. Celebrity judges included Golden Globe nominee and acting coach John Sarno, star of “General Hospital” Sonya Eddy, radio personality/host of The Steve Harvey Show 93.5 KDAY Nautica de la Cruz, actor Renzo Lewis (“Elf Academy” and “Little Bruno”) and the owner and executive director of the Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA pageants, as well as owner of The Morgan Talent Agency, Keith Lewis.
For more pictures of the winner, as well as the 11 other contestants, visit www.Hollywoodflip.com.