An 18-year-old Salmo girl is trading in her dirt bike for high heels to compete in a national pageant.
Jackie Wilson was crowned Miss Teen Kootenays in March after her two teachers Tamara Huser and Fred Barisenkoff split the cost of nearly $1,000 to send her to the first round of the competition in Vancouver.
After competing in a preliminary round, against 41 girls who were all vying to represent B.C. regions, Wilson was one of the 18 selected to compete at Miss Teen Canada in Toronto next month.
“It’s cool to be recognized as an idol, as somebody who can make a difference,” she said of her new role. “I’ve never seen myself as a beauty queen, I kind of signed up for fun at first but then it got serious.”
Though it was her first time participating in a pageant, Wilson’s natural charm shone through.
“All the other girls were mainly dancers, I was the odd one out,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘I’m from Salmo, I don’t wear high heels and dance but I can start a fire and ride a dirt bike.’”
A panel of judges intrigued by her mom’s (Kathy Wroe from “One Wroe Back”) rocker influence, wondered whether she was a “rock baby” and asked if she could head bang.
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“I was like yeah I can head bang, it’s probably my favourite pastime, so I was in high heels and a little interview dress and I head banged for this panel of three judges,” she laughed. “It was pretty funny.”
Wilson is hoping to prove to Canada that even when you’re from a small town, you can accomplish great achievements, which is apparent in her platform to motivate youth to feel the same way.
“I’ve lived in Salmo my whole life and I’ve seen so many teens turn to drugs and alcohol and I don’t think it’s right,” she said.
The teen quit drinking in March to further prove her point.
“I’m not a big drinker anyways, I’ll have a casual drink with my friends like most teens do, but I realize that I don’t have to do that to have fun.”
Beyond acting as a role model for her peers, Wilson has already raised $3,500 to build a school in Africa through the organization Free The Children and continues to push for the cause that costs about $8,500 to complete.
“It’s kind of my goal in life,” she said. “I really want to travel and go see people in developing countries and see how they live and struggle and help them.”
Following in her mom’s shoes, it’s no surprise that she will be singing for the talent portion of the upcoming big competition.
“My mom is pretty much my greatest influence,” said Wilson. “She’s really her own person, she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do and if people don’t agree with what she says, she’ll stand up for what she believes in.”
Wilson is now preparing for the real deal, when 70 girls from across Canada will hit the stage July 14-16.
The first night, the competitors will be judged on swim suit and an interview, which will help the judges decide who the Top 20 are. The remaining girls will be critiqued on their overall behaviour and an evening gown look, prior to the Top 5 being selected and asked on-stage questions.
Though it is a pageant, Wilson isn’t in it for the beauty aspect but more for the opportunity to stand out as a positive role model for youth.
“I don’t want it to be a beauty thing,” she said. “I want people to know that you have to be real to enter this competition.”
Though already sponsored by Hall Printing in Nelson, Wilson is looking for other sponsors.
She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The teen is also asking residents to rally behind her by following her blog (www.missteenkootenays.com) and becoming a fan of her Facebook page.