You will compete at the Miss Hawaii Teen USA Pageant being held this weekend. How have you been preparing for the contest?
Yes. I will be competing for the title of Miss Hawaii Teen USA 2018 in less than a week and I am very excited and very blessed to have this opportunity.
How have I prepared? This is actually a multifaceted question for me. I know most young ladies will have answers like: “Staying active and fit”, “eating healthy”, “doing volunteer work”, “keeping-up with current events”, etc.” and those are all true and necessary ways to prepare for a pageant and are definitely things I have been doing as well. But for me personally, I believe that a true pageant queen is in preparation for pageants her whole life, whether she enters one or not.
I don’t believe that you should act or be one way in your “normal” or regular life and then another way just because you are in a pageant. I believe that the life you live on a regular basis should be able to translate seamlessly onto the stage and vice versa. I feel this way because in order to be an inspiration to others and in order to make a difference, people need to see your genuineness and be able to relate to you as an individual, on and off the stage. I believe we should all live and operate with integrity whether you hold a title or not. So with that in mind, I have prepared for this pageant by doing what I have been doing all along: I give back to my community by doing volunteer work through my church and school; I stay active and fit with Raiders, Tennis and regular workouts; I stay up on current events because I want to know what is going on in the world, and most significantly, I am working on two initiatives that I have started:
One is to bring awareness to teenage suicide; and the other is a support group for teens suffering from TBI –triggered depression. So those are the things I do anyway, in my normal daily life. But here are some other ways I have been prepping for the pageant that isn’t in the scope of my normal life: First I had to enter and win my island title of Miss Maui Teen USA, so that I could then compete at the State pageant. Next I had to make twice monthly flights to Oahu for rehearsals, trainings, public appearances, photo and video shoots and this of course involved staying in hotels, eating out, packing, unpacking, renting cars or catching Ubers everywhere, missing school, etc.. So this extra little dynamic definitely added some interesting struggles and logistics that the majority of contestants who live within driving distance of their pageant do not have to deal with; and lastly this fun fact… This fresh-face, sneakers and baseball cap girl had to learn how to do stage and public appearance make-up and walk in heels.
Many Teens have said that their dream since a child was to participate in a pageant as prestigious as Miss World (or Miss Universe). Is this your case? And if so, why ?
Well like I shared earlier, about being a tomboy until just 2 short years ago, I can honestly say that “No – this was not a childhood dream of mine.” However – now that I have been exposed to the pageantry world for 2 years and seeing all the good that comes out of it, it would be such an honor to participate in a pageant such as Miss World or Miss Universe. Being part of such a prestigious event would be a positive life-changing experience with opportunities to have an even greater impact on others - and as such, I can NOW say with all sincerity that “Although this has not been a childhood dream of mine – it is most definitely a NEW one.”
Social media seem to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not?
Social Media seems to play a major role in everything nowadays and this is so very true in pageantry. I believe it can be both advantageous and not so much so. Advantageous because with just a simple click on a mouse or cursor you can communicate all around the globe in a matter of seconds sharing your message of hope and inspiring hundreds and thousands of people to do better, be better, feel better. It can also be a disadvantage especially if you publicly make a mistake or do not have a positive self-image of yourself, as the internet also opens you up to being judged, bullied, ridiculed and misunderstood. Everything you say and do can be recorded and shared, over and over again. The bottom line is, I feel like with all new developments that come along in our ever evolving world, we can either be in control of what we create, or have what we create be in control of us.
Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey? And if so, how did you overcome it?
Last year was a very hard year for me. It was more than disappointment in myself, it was extreme discouragement and depression. But now in looking back – it was also pivotal and life-changing for me not only as a person in general, but as a student, an athlete and a pageant contestant.
I overcame this disappointment by changing my attitude and taking what was meant to harm me and turned it around to be a blessing to others. By taking the focus off of what I couldn't do and placing it on what I could do, my Green Ribbon Initiative was born.
We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference?
Teenage Suicide. Depression. Just the mention of those three words will cause an entire room to go silent as people quietly talk about someone they know who suffers from depression or who tried to kill themselves (or sadly succeeded). We talk, we share stories, we cry, but then little else is done or said. Why? Well because these things are difficult and uncomfortable to talk about and therefore are kept hidden. But this is where I plan on making a difference by shinning a light into this hidden darkness of teenage suicide and depression.
How will I shine the light? I will do it with the inception of two initiatives I have created. The first one I came up with at the age of 14 as a Freshman in High School. Called the “Post-it-Up / Kick-it-Out” campaign it is geared towards the fight against teenage suicide. When this idea was presented to my principal. She loved it and approved it’s inception in our high school. My second initiative has been in the planning stages for several months as I have been consulting directly with the Brain Injury Association of America. Called the Green Ribbon Initiative, it is being set-up as a support group for Teens who are suffering from TBI-Triggered Depression, something I am now all-too familiar with.Suicide and Depression may seem like impossible mountains to tackle, especially for a young person such as myself, but you never know until you try and so this is how I plan on making a difference with the “voice” that I have been entrusted with.
What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?
I would tell every little girl out there that everything begins with a dream. That when God gives you a dream, He also gives you the ability deep down inside of you to achieve that dream. It all starts with belief. If you can believe it, then you can achieve it. I would tell her that she is no different than me I entered my 1st pageant at age 13 and I didn’t even place in the top 3. I was devastated and said I would never compete again. But I came back two years later and WON! And not only did I win the title – I won everything across the board (gown, active wear, interview and even Miss Congeniality). You see, sometimes when you get a “No” it doesn’t mean “Never”… it just means “Not Yet”. I would tell her to just keep believing in herself and never give up on her dreams. Nothing is impossible with faith, perseverance and hard work.
Who is your ideal beauty queen and how has she helped you to evolve as a beauty queen?
I struggle with naming one person as “my ideal” beauty queen because I believe that every person who represents themselves with integrity, honesty, grace, charm, wisdom, humility, generosity and wraps it up with passion and a sense of humor is an ideal beauty queen. I have only been in the pageant world for 2 years, but during that time I have personally come to know at least 2 people who fit this description and one of them is my pageant co-Director Caroline Absalom, Mrs. Hawaii 2015, and 2nd Runner-Up in the Mrs. America 2015 pageant.
The other one is our current Miss Earth United States Andreia Gibau who just placed in the Top 16 of Miss Earth.
How they have both helped me evolve as a beauty queen is that they have stayed true to who they are as a person. What you see on the stage with everyone watching is the same that you see off the stage when no one is watching. They make no apologies for being who they are, but embrace how God made them and share that gift with the world. By being comfortable in their own skin, gives me confidence and encourages me to do, and be the same.
Thanks to the beautiful Alex for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageant.