Miss America 2.0: Behind-the-scenes changes to competition begin at preliminaries

PHOTO: Contestants wave to the audience during introductions at the second night of preliminary competition at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, N.J, Sept. 6, 2018.PlayWayne Parry/AP
WATCH Exclusive look behind-the-scenes at this year's Miss America competition

Miss America will unveil a number of changes during Sunday's broadcast of the 97-year-old competition.

"Good Morning America" had an inside look behind Wednesday's preliminaries and, besides the controversial swimsuit ban, it's safe to say we're in for a new kind of pageant --one that gets to know the ladies on a more personal level by celebrating their talents and accomplishments.

PHOTO: Contestants enter the stage to participate in Miss America 2018, Sept. 7, 2017, in Atlantic City, N.J. Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Production
Contestants enter the stage to participate in Miss America 2018, Sept. 7, 2017, in Atlantic City, N.J.

"We want to pay tribute to tradition and we believe that physical appearance and beauty and being fit, that is empowering," chairwoman Gretchen Carlson said on "Good Morning America" in July. "We're just not going to judge women on that anymore."

Here, a reminder of what viewers can expect:

The swimsuit portion is now an interview session

The organization announced in June that it would be eliminating its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance.

In place of the swimsuits, women will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges, the organization said.

PHOTO: Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J. ABC
Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J.

"I didn't know what to expect going into it but I was extremely pleasantly surprised to see how it all came together up on stage and to be perfectly honest I don't know that I missed the swimsuit competition," Miss America 2009 Katie Stam Irk told "GMA" of the preliminaries.

The evening gown competition gets a makeover

Sayonara, sequins. While hopefuls are still welcome to wear an evening gown, they'll free to sport any attire that expresses their confidence and personal styles.

PHOTO: Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J. ABC
Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J.

In this "red carpet" portion of the competition -- formerly known as "evening gown" -- candidates will also answer rapid-fire questions in 8 seconds.

PHOTO: Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J. ABC
Behind the scenes at the Miss America competition, Sept. 6, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J.

"You have a few seconds before the next person is right behind you," said Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014. "So I think it's actually [a] very relevant phase and way to do it."

The competition will be live

For the first time in years, the "Parade of States" will air live on Sunday.

Catch the broadcast on ABC Sept. 9, at 9 p.m. EST.

PHOTO: Contestants wave to the audience during introductions at the second night of preliminary competition at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, N.J, Sept. 6, 2018. Wayne Parry/AP
Contestants wave to the audience during introductions at the second night of preliminary competition at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, N.J, Sept. 6, 2018.
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