When teenager Madison Shead wanted to get into pageants, her mom wasn’t so sure.
“I’m not really a pageant mom,” said Deirdre Shead of Kirkwood. “I wasn’t real thrilled with it. I said, ‘No Toddlers and Tiaras.’"
But then she and Madison discovered the National American Miss Pageant and were sold. The pageant bills itself as a way to encourage leadership and boost confidence in girls from age 4 to 18.
“It’s really just to increase those girls’ self esteem,” Shead said. “It’s just a real positive experience for the girls.”
It definitely was positive for Madison this year. She came home from the statewide pageant in Columbia last month with a crown on her head and about $1,500 extra in her pocket.
Madison, 13, was crowned Miss Missouri Pre-Teen, beating out 130 other girls in her age group from across the state. The title means she will go to Los Angeles in November to compete in the national contest.
In the meantime, she has duties to perform at home, such as traveling to Joplin with her “sister queens” from the five other age groups to deliver teddy bears and books collected by pageant contestants to children affected by last spring’s tornado.
Madison also plans to share some of her winnings with a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. The friend, , is raising money to keep a toy basket stocked at Children’s Hospital for patients going through chemotherapy.
Madison, who attends said she wanted to get involved in pageants because she likes acting and hopes to have a career on Broadway or in Hollywood. She also plans to be a pediatrician because she likes working with children.
This was her third trip to the statewide pageant. Each year she has finished in the top five. The competitors are judged in four categories: formal wear, personal introduction, interview and community service project.
Taking part in the National American Miss Pageant has brought Madison added confidence being in front of a crowd, she said. She got a little nervous at first, but the jitters went away once she hit the stage.
“It’s kind of easy because I don’t really know the people,” she said. “I think it’s fun. I like being on stage.”
In addition to winning the overall competition, Madison also won two optional categories: spokes model and talent. In the spokes model competition, Madison had to write and deliver a speech. Her speech was about making your own luck.
“When opportunity meets action, that’s when luck happens,” she said.
For her talent, she performed ventriloquism while singing, “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” with her puppet, Savannah.
Ventriloquism is something she picked up recently after seeing Miss Arkansas perform with two puppets in the Miss America Pageant.