Miss Teen Bermuda is about more than just a pretty face
The Miss Teen Bermuda Islands Pageant is not just about having a pretty face, it is also about having a sharp mind.
So says Terry Smith, who has been running the competition to find Bermuda’s most talented teenage girls for the last ten years.
The talent and supermodel segment of the Miss Teen Bermuda Islands Pageant kicks off tonight at Willowbank hotel. The contest concludes Sunday at the Fairmont Southampton.
“I think our pageant is very consistent about picking the right people,” said Mr Smith. “Just because you have the prettiest face doesn’t mean you are going to win the pageant.”
Interviews conducted during the competition weigh very heavily in the girls’ overall scores. The girls are expected to not only perform a talent, dance and model outfits, they are also expected to have a “platform” to talk about confidently for three minutes.
Nine girls, ages 13 to 17 years old, have been rehearsing for the pageant for three nights a week for the last five weeks. Kayla Simons, 17, said she joined the pageant to expand her horizons.
“I wanted to gain more experience with public speaking, and gain more self-confidence,” she said. She has just graduated from the Berkeley Institute and will be entering Bermuda College this autumn to study business finance.
“It is a little tougher than I expected,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting all the practices and the long hours. One of the hardest things has been making sure to follow proper etiquette at all times. You never know who is watching. What I have learned is definitely carrying over into the rest of my life. I have to dress a little more professionally, for example.”
She said one of the best things from the competition was all the new friendships between the competitors.
“I think that my favourite part has probably been the supermodel part and the talent night,” said Miss Simons. “I haven’t full decided what my talent will be, but it will either be a monologue or a piano piece.”
Miss Simons said her mother, Sonja Furbert, has been strongly encouraging her during practices, because she feels it will be a good experience in the long run.
“Actually, I was inspired by my cousin who won some years back, Keisha Smith,” said Miss Simons. “She now works at [Butterfield Bank] in the human resources department. I saw how it impacted her life and the way she carries herself now.”
Miss Simons said she was very excited to meet Miss Bermuda 2011, Jana-Lyn Outerbridge, when she came to visit the teen contestants. Miss Bermuda gave the girls advice about being confident and not worrying about the outcome.
“She said even if we don’t take the crown away, take something away like more confidence or something like that and self-respect,” said Miss Simons.
Dennishia Roberts, 17, said she decided to join the competition because she wanted to encourage plus-size girls like herself to feel good about themselves.
“I am the only plus-size teen in the pageant,” she said. “I decided to enter it to encourage more plus-size girls to go into the pageant. They don’t have to think that only skinny girls can join. You can be any size to join. Also it looks good on your resume.”
Miss Roberts is going into her final year at CedarBridge Academy; she then wants to enter the hospitality industry.
“I am very outgoing and I am a people person,” she said. “I just like to entertain people. The hardest part about the pageant is you do have a lot of competition. A lot of the girls are very good at what we are doing.
“Since I haven’t really walked in heels before, that is the difficult part. Other than that it is fun. The fun thing about the pageant is that we have done a lot of different things. On Sunday we had a photo shoot.
“That is the first photo shoot I have ever been on. The photographers were very nice. The experience of getting my hair and make-up done was great. There was a bathing suit part. I liked the experience. We met a lot of people like the Mayor of Hamilton [Charles Gosling] and the Premier [Paula Cox].”
For the talent segment she hopes to sing ‘The Greatest Love of All’ by Whitney Houston. It will be her first time singing in public.
“Everyone always says I have a beautiful voice, but I am shy,” she said. “But on Thursday at the talent show it is going to come out.”
Her parents are Cindy and Dennis Roberts.
The youngest contestant, Zanabi Suluki, 13, said she was one of the first to join the pageant, back when there was one of two girls involved.
“For awhile it was just us and then one day I came in and there were all these girls there,” she said. “It has been difficult because I am the youngest. The hard part is making sure that I act right at all times. It has been fun though, and I have been encouraging all my friends to join. They have said that they might do it next year.”
Mr Smith said this was the eighth pageant production. He took a two year break while he got his clothing store, Clara-Bows Boutique, off the ground.
“The girls have to apply for the job as Miss Teen Bermuda,” said Mr Smith. “They go into a boardroom in front of a panel of five judges and have to answer questions. During the show they have five minutes to put a platform out there. Sometimes they talk about gang violence, teen pregnancy, latchkey kids, or some other relevant topic.”
Last year the winner was Alyssa Rose. Former winners and participants including Whitney Morfitt and Alexa Lightbourne, will also take part.
“We try to keep the girls involved,” said Mr Smith. “Now they are older, they can encourage the young ladies to be a part of it, and they know what they are looking for as a past participant.”
The contestants are judged, with their age taken into account. The winner goes on to compete in the International Digicel Haynes Smith Talented Teen Pageant in St Kitts in December against girls from all over the Caribbean. Alexa Lightbourne was the first to represent Bermuda; she placed third. Alyssa Rose was the second person to go.
“I think the girls get much more out of the pageant than the ability to learn how to walk and talk,” said Mr Smith. “They get the inner strength and the experience of how to do certain things. It can be as basic as how to eat at a cocktail party and how to break your bread and not put the whole finger sandwich in your mouth. It can be about how to shake hands and say ‘good afternoon, Madame Premier’.”
“Clara-Bows Boutique is providing the official wardrobe of Miss Teen Bermuda Islands. We will be dressing the contestants for their opening scene and the dance scene. We will also be dressing Miss Teen Bermuda for her whole year.”
Tonight’s segments at Willowbank start at 8pm. Tickets are $25. Sunday’s finale is in the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre at the Fairmont Southampton at 7pm. Tickets are $100, $65 and $45.
Tickets are available at Secrets and Clara-Bows Boutique on Court Street, or at the door.
For more information e-mail tlp[AT]logic.bm or telephone 337-5552. Result and clips will be shown later on the Bermuda Sports Network at www.bermudasportsnetwork.com .