The . & Bailey Circus features its first female ringmaster center stage just months before announcing the iconic circus will shut down this spring after 146 years.
Ringmaster Kristen Michelle Wilson, who began with the circus in September, appeared Wednesday on First Coast Connect to talk about her journey into the industry and the closure of the show.
Wilson is the 39th ringmaster in
“It's such an honor to be able to bring a little femininity to the floor,” Wilson said.
Listen to part of her interview on Redux
A professional singer with a background in theater, Wilson told First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross she grew up loving to entertain and as a child often attended concerts, operas and plays. Wilson said she believes she was selected for the role because of the energy and passion she brings to the role of ringmaster for “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
“I remember my very first circus, and I just fell in love with the bright lights, and the colors, and I remember the ringmaster being so large and loud and proud and in charge, and I wanted to be that type of a person,” Wilson said.
WATCH | 5 Questions with Kristen Michelle Wilson
As the first female ringmaster, Wilson said there was a debate whether she should be called “
“The treatment of the animals is top notch: 24- hour veterinary care, and there is so much love, so much respect, such a bond between the veterinarians, the trainers and these animals,” Wilson said.
In 2014, won a multimillion-dollar settlement against the Humane Society and other activists over unproven claims the company was mistreating elephants. Although they won in court, they prevail in the court of public opinion, Wilson said.
“We do still have several animals on Circus
The circus is performing until Sunday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Listen to the complete interview