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A beauty pageant judge and mother of a pageant winner is passing on her knowledge at the newly opened MJ Beauty/Modeling in Locust Grove.
Juanita Scott's daughter, Maria, has won numerous crowns
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Still, the little girl was able to put her hands on her hips correctly when she had to stop, and looked charming when she cocked her head to one side and placed it on her folded hands.
"The judges are going to love her," said Scott.
Scott learned what it takes to win beauty pageants when a friend, Colleen Star of New Star Discovery, asked her to judge a pageant in 1990.
"I said, 'Sure. What do I have to do?'" she said. "Once I started, I found I liked it."
Several years later Scott and Maria, who was 3 at the time, were in Spotsylvania Mall when Scott spotted posters for a beauty pageant. People began urging her to enter Maria because they said she was so cute.
"I thought, 'Why not? I'll just try it,'" she said. "I liked it. She liked it. After she got to be 10, she liked the trophies she got a lot and she got interested in the money. She wanted to win to get all the money and then she just stayed in it."
Scott supported her daughter's interest, but her rule was no competition if Maria got bad grades at school. Maria only had to drop out of the pageant circuit once when she got a C in a science class. She's now a scholarship student at Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina.
Competing in pageants can be expensive: One gown Maria wore cost $750. So Scott advises her students' parents to stick with licensed pageants because they offer savings bonds, and to line up sponsors to help cover such things as entry fees, program ads and transportation.
She also warned that pageant world isn't all smiles and pretty dresses. She said she's seen parents steal other contestants' shoes or grab their child by the arm and tell her that she's going to compete no matter what.
But there are rewards. Girls--and boys--who compete in pageants learn poise, motivation and how to perform in front of a crowd, Scott said. Some, such as All American Girl & Boy winner Joseph "CJ" Foster, go on to roles in the movies. He has been in three, including "Doubt" with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.
"It's a lot of work," Scott said of pageants. "If you want to be in them, be in them. Don't do it halfway."
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407