Isabella Llanos loves performing and being on stage. (Special to the Langley Advance)

TONIGHT: Inner beauty message paramount for Langley pageant contestants

Three young Langley women are part of this weekendโ€™s Miss BC contest Monday, July 3.

A trio of young Langley women are competing to be Miss BC this weekend, including an 11-year-old who sees it as a way to help end bullying and a 28-year-old who wants to prove to the world – and herself – that self-proclaimed nerds and freaks like her should be themselves and shoot for their dreams without apology.

For 12 of its 15 years, Fort Langley has played host to the Miss BC program, where contestants from across the province seek to be crowned Miss, Mrs., or Miss Teen, and now Junior Miss BC.

While part of the event has outgrown the Chief Sepass Theatre for some of it’s events, the pageant stills holds strong Langley roots said producer and founder Darren Storsley.

While the presentation and talent night festivities were held at Sepass on Saturday, the final pageant tonight – with the live competition and crowning of Miss, Mrs, and Miss Teen BC – is happening at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium in Surrey, starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are still available online at www.missbc.ca.

“The public is welcome to attend this event, and cheer on the contestants presenting Langley,” Storsley said.

All about personal development

The program is a competition, but more over it is an organization aimed at encouraging women of all ages – regardless of height or weight – to rejoice in their inner beauties.

“This is a unique pageant in that there is no score for beauty and no swim wear event,” said Storsley.

“Instead, this program focuses on personal development and leadership, and provides all 43 contestants with professional training in genres such as public speaking, media relations, health, self-esteem, stage choreography, interview skills and they even receive a self-defence course.”

This time, Langley’s own Isabella Llanos, Sammy Shikaze, and Alexia Dickson are all pursuing a crown.

Dickson is a Grade 6 Yorkson Creek Middle School student and among the first-ever contestants for the new BC Junior Miss category (open to girls ages nine to 12).

Miss BC is not the traditional pageant, as Grade 6 student tells it.

“I am so excited to be able to be a part of this pageant… with pageants, beauty and body style plays a big part,” Dickson said.

“But this one is different. It’s about the person and how they carry themselves… I try to be a leader and a good role model for the little kids at my school and [dance] studio .. this is my chance to expand and be a bigger role model for other kids, too.”

Likewise, Sammy Shikaze has never participated in a pageant, and admittedly never had any ambition to be Miss BC.

However, the 28-year-old Langley City woman wants to be a leader in her community, and felt this program offered her a good jumping off point.

“I totally had a preconceived notion of what pageants were about, and Miss BC is much more than that,” Shikaze said.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m a stereotypical pageant girl’s worst nightmare – in the best way possible of course. When I think of a stereotypical pageant girl, I think of a tall, slender, proper, constantly smiling and soft spoken beautiful woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that type of woman, that’s just not who I am. I’m a 5’2” loud-mouthed girl who reads comics, and enjoys the occasional McDonald’s trip. This isn’t to say I’m uncomfortable with who I am, I’m a confident woman, which I think is part of why I was interested in Miss BC in the first place,” Shikaze said.

“Growing up as one of the few kids of mixed ethnicity in my community, I know it would have been a big deal to see someone like me that I could look up to. Someone with real imperfections (and possibly a little dorky), who was unapologetic in their authenticity and let their freak flag fly,” said Shikaze, who is training to become a teacher and hoping to win a crown if for nothing else that to have another means of serving as a role model for younger girls.

Llanos wants to use the platform as a way to encourage people – despite growing older, to never grow up and stop playing.

“When you’re a child, you run and play, but when you reach a certain age you stop playing. I refuse to believe my age is a barrier to being able to continue to do that. I play on the playground, I believe in magic, and I watch kids show. When I need to be mature and serious, I am, but I’m still me.

“I don’t lose the wonder that the world holds, as so many others do.”

It’s also about giving back

Like most pageants, the Miss BC program also has a charity element, each contestant having to help raise money and awareness for Cops for Cancer.

It’s through a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and police officers, RCMP and emergency services personnel from across British Columbia, and to date, contestants for Miss BC have raised more than $300,000 for the cause, boasted Storsley.

Continuing the legacy

Langley has won the event more than any other city in the province, with a record of six wins, Storsley said.

Reflecting back, for instance, Langley’s Margaret Onedo was crowned Miss Fraser Valley and won the Miss Congeniality award during last year’s Miss BC pageant.

This year’s program, included a weekend of workshops and training that ran July 1 to 3.

Again, it culminates with the awards presentations and crowning in a new, larger venue at the Chandos Pattison Theatre (10238 168th St. in Surrey) at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday, July 3).

• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance for more on this event

Question and Answer

Each of the Langley contestants was given a chance to answer a series of questions about themselves and the pageant.

Here are the answers the Langley Advance received.

• Sammy Shikaze

(nicknamed Sammy Slay)

1. Have you ever participated in any other pageant?

No, never. I never even had any ambitions to be in a pageant before Miss BC.

2. How did you learn about this one?

I’m part of a dance group called Army of Sass, and we were performing at a wedding show where one of the pageant organizers was an emcee. Like Army of Sass, Miss BC is about being comfortable with yourself, and being a leader in your community, which is why I even considered it.

3. What made you decide to participate in this contest, in particular?

I decided to participate in Miss BC when I thought about what it would have meant for a younger me to have seen someone I could identify with in a contest like this. Even what it would mean for me now to see a nerdy chick with curves just be herself, and isn’t a typical “pageant girl”. Miss BC also is really unique in the sense that it doesn’t have weight or height requirements to participate, and it focuses more on inner beauty. The more I thought about it, the more I thought ‘why not me?’. So I signed up, and here we are!

4. Can you explain a little bit of the process you’ve gone through, thus far, to prepare for the upcoming competition and awards?

So far it’s been a lot of emails, answering questions about myself. Fortunately for me, I love surveys (haha). I think the real process begins when we meet on the weekend of and go through all the workshops.

5. What have you learned from this experience, thus far?

The biggest lesson I learned was in my own judgment about pageants, and about myself. Initially I was really afraid to tell my friends and family I was considering joining. Even after I signed up, I very slowly told people (which is very unlike me – I share everything). I think I was afraid that others would judge me or think I had changed who I was, like I was looking for validation or something, but that’s not at all why I’m here. I’ve never really been one to care what people thought about me, so I’m not quite sure why I did this time. Eventually I got over my fears and got comfortable, and re-excited for the upcoming weekend. Anyways, long story short, I learned not to be so judgmental of myself, and to keep not caring what people think of me.

6. What makes you think you can win this competition?

Honestly, this may sound tacky, but I’ve really given winning much thought. I think this will be a really fun experience, and why not participate now when I have the opportunity. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

7. What do you bring to the table that is different, better, or just more worthy of recognition than the other girls?

Well I definitely wouldn’t say I’m better or more worthy of recognition than anyone. I’m probably different though. Aside from the huge nerd thing (I love video games and comic books, Batman is my favorite), I’m an outspoken, loud-mouthed, take-no-crap kind of gal. That being said, I have yet to meet any of the other participants, so maybe they’re just as out there as I am.

8. What are your favourite things to do?

I love being busy. My parents had this rule for me growing up that I could only participate in 3 after school activities because I always wanted to do all the things. Now that I’m an “adult” (I use that term loosely), I pretty much load myself up with new things to try. Aside from dancing in Army of Sass, I love playing drums (traditional Japanese drums or Taiko, and kit drums), kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, snowboarding, I’ll pretty much try anything once.

9. Do you have other siblings?

I have an older brother who is one of my best friends. We’re different in a lot of ways, he’s shy and a bit of a homebody, but he’s hilarious and is the only one who can relate to the craziness that is our family. Plus, he puts up with all my crap, he’s such a good sport!

10. Who will be in the audience on awards night, cheering you on?

Probably my parents, who are crazy supportive in pretty much everything I do. My mom never missed a skating practice, and came to every performance of my high school plays (my high school drama teacher actually created the “parent pass”, which was a discounted rate to see all the shows specifically for my mom).

11. Has anyone teased, ridiculed, or chided you for participating in a pageant? And if so, what did or would you tell them?

No, not at all! Everyone has been very supportive, which has been really awesome. As I mentioned before, the most judgment I’ve had in this whole process has been internal.

12. What do you hope to take away from this experience?

I hope to feel like I’ve represented my community and women who identify with me well. Also, I’d love opportunities to support causes I’m passionate about, like equal rights, mental illness, and bullying prevention.

13. Who is your favourite musician, and why?

There is no way I could pick a favourite! Basically, I like a little bit of everything except country and Techno/EDM stuff. I like to play this game when I’m meeting someone new where I ask them to pick their top five musical artists, and mine usually include a mixture of Elvis, Queen, Bruno Mars, Spice Girls, Eminem, Missy Elliot, Michael Buble, Britney Spears. I also am really into a couple cover groups; like Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, and Post Modern Jukebox.

14. What is your favourite food, and why?

Sushi is my favourite because it’s delicious.

15. I’m not sure if there’s still a talent component to the show, but if so, what is your talent?

The talent portion now is more of a volunteer show with all proceeds going to cops for cancer (which is so amazing!), but with my Army of Sass show coming up shortly, I probably won’t be able to participate. I did organize a fundraiser/talent show earlier this year with Army of Sass, where I danced. If I had enough time, I’d probably do a dance piece or a play a song on the taiko drums.

16. Is there anything else about the competition, yourself, or why you are participating – that hasn’t been covered in the answers above – that you feel is important to share to help convince our readers to vote for you for the People’s Choice Award?

I encourage anyone who is interested in the Miss BC pageant and its mission to check out the website and read more about the program! I totally had a preconceived notion of what pageants were about, and Miss BC is much more than that. I would also encourage the readers to review all the contestants and vote for who they feel compelled to! There lots of amazing women and girls in this program, all of which are worthy of your support!

• Alexia Dickson

1. Have you ever participated in any other pageant?

This is my first one.

2. How did you learn about this one?

My mom signed me up for this and then told me about it when I was accepted ๐Ÿ™‚

3. What made you decide to participate in this contest, in particular?

I love being on stage ๐Ÿ™‚ it is something different for me to experience. My mom said that it was also about awareness for bullying and because I have been bullied, I wanted to be a part of something that can help stop it.

4. Can you explain a little bit of the process you’ve gone through, thus far, to prepare for the upcoming competition and awards?

My mom bought me the prettiest dress to wear ๐Ÿ™‚ My parents have been helping me with confidence that I can do this. I watched previous years competition with my mom on YouTube and I have been practising what I would do for an entrance for introduction and the workout clothing.

5. What have you learned from this experience, thus far?

I’ve learned that there is a lot of planning that goes into participating in something like this – especially when there are two events at the same time.

6. What makes you think you can win this competition?

I think I can win this competition because for the past five year I have been training on how to be a better role model everyday with the help of my coaches at Xtreme – thru dance I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you look like – it’s what you can do when you put your mind to it. I was bullied in grade 4 & 5 by girls I believed were my friends – they started to call me fat and stupid – I believed that friends told the truth so I believed it – my dancing & school work suffered because I thought that it was true — one day my coaches took me aside and told me that I wasn’t fat and no where near stupid – I had muscle to which allowed me to be a strong dancer – I worked hard and in July 2016 I received Dancer of the Year 12 & under at Nationals in Montreal. My grades improved and currently I have been receiving straight A’s in school – fat & stupid can’t accomplish that – but a strong & smart girl can – and that is ME!

7. What do you bring to the table that is different, better, or just more worthy of recognition than the other girls?

My Yiayia (grandma) has always taught me that no matter what – be polite and never forget your ‘Please’ & ‘Thank You’ – no one is ever better than the other – we are just all different which allows each of us to show who we really are. What I bring to the table is “ME” ๐Ÿ™‚

8. What are your favourite things to do?

Dancing! I love dancing … cheerleading, swimming, rollerblading, crafting with my mom, playing video games with my dad, hanging out with my best friends, sleepovers are the best!

9. Do you have other siblings?

I have one younger brother, Alex.

10. Who will be in the audience on awards night, cheering you on?

My mom, dad, Alex & both sets of grandparents – and a whole lot people from my studio cheering me on from Whistler.

11. Has anyone teased, ridiculed, or chided you for participating in a pageant? And if so, what did or would you tell them?

I am lucky that everyone I have told that I am doing this has been happy for me and supportive. I have been dancing in competitions for five years, so everyone knows how much I love being on stage – so doing this pageant isn’t a surprise.

12. What do you hope to take away from this experience?

Other than the title? ๐Ÿ™‚ I am hoping that by going through this process I can open new doors to opportunities that would never have known I existed. I am hoping that I can make new friends with others that share the same interests as me. I hope that I can take what I learn from this and become a better person. At the end of the day I want to be able to say “I did it!”

13. Who is your favourite musician, and why?

Ariana Grande & Katy Perry because they just make me feel happy!

14. What is your favourite food, and why?

Pasta because it just tastes sooooo good!

15. I’m not sure if there’s still a talent component to the show, but if so, what is your talent?

There is a talent show, but I won’t be able to participate – I am dancing in Whistler all weekend for Nationals / Dance World Cup – my mom will be driving me back and forth between the two events all weekend so I can do both events – if I was able to do a talent – it would be dancing.

16. Is there anything else about the competition, yourself, or why you are participating – that hasn’t been covered in the answers above – that you feel is important to share to help convince our readers to vote for you for the People’s Choice Award?

“I am so excited to be able to be a part of this pageant… with pageants – beauty and body style plays a big part. But this one is different. It’s about the person and how they carry themselves… I try to be a leader and a good role model for the little kids at my school and [dance] studio .. this is my chance to expand and be a bigger role model for other kids, too.”