Some say it was beginner’s luck for Georgina Paez, as she walked away from her first-ever pageant in January, crowned as 2018 USA National Miss Sun Coast Pre-Teen.
But that would suggest such a feat could ever happen without months and months of hard work, determination, and a lot of natural talent to begin with.
So was it luck?
“I don’t know,” says Paez, “Maybe just a little luck. But I do know it’s been a dream come true!”
Achieving that state title last January in Melbourne, Fla., earned her the honor of moving on to represent Florida National Crown in Orlando, July 1-10. Here, six prestigious national titles will be awarded, including in the USA National Pre-Teen category – in which Paez will compete against peers from all around the United States.
“This entire experience has been magical,” said 12-year-old Paez, at her National Pageant Send-Off Party earlier this month hosted by her mom, Barbara Munoz, of Kendall.
A Fashionable Send-Off
It was at the June 6 gathering it became evident that, at this level in the national pageantry system, it truly takes an entire team of supporters and professionals to make “magic” happen.
In the private ballroom at the Pullman Miami Airport Hotel, complete with balloons, music, and festive foods – including gourmet peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich squares – dozens of friends, family, coaches, photographers, and journalists all came together to usher Paez off to success in Orlando.
Mingling about were Damaris Aguiar from DAMA School of Modeling, Paez’s fashion designers Venecia Villalona and YDC Collection’s Yereny Espinoza, as well as crowned queens from other pageant systems.
But perhaps most pleasing to Paez was the fact that her pageantry coaches came out to support her at the affair. Among them, major names in the field including internationally-acclaimed interview consultant Jorge Esteban of Coral Gables-based Pageant Smart, who’s firm has helped over 80 state winners in the past seven years and who owns the franchise for Miss Universe Iceland. Also on hand was Dailin Barca of Model Perfect Group, a stunning force on the Miami modeling- and etiquette-coaching scene
Getting Pageant Smart
“Pageant delegates like Georgina develop lifelong skills that will enable them to be successful long into the future,” said Esteban. He specializes on helping beauty-pageant clients develop communications skills that are essential to successfully answering questions offstage and in personal interviews, as well as in working with the news media and in red carpet interviews.
“One thing I tell my girls is that they should always make sure they trust themselves in this process,” says Esteban.
“Contestants think that judges want to hear a politically correct answer. But you can’t stand there and say things you don’t truly mean in your heart, be yourself, own your opinions.
Esteban teaches his clients how to control the interview, how to get their point across, and to be comfortable talking about themselves without coming across as cocky or insincere, he says.
He typically doesn’t work with girls under the age of 13, but Esteban made an exception to work with 12-year-old Paez, because, he says, “it was clear she is already a rock star.
“What’s really fresh is that Georgina is unfiltered, innocent, and has a charming way about her. She doesn’t try to sugar coat, or be someone she is not. She is proud of who she is and what she brings to the table – and that it is everything in this world.”
Time to Model Perfect
Another key player on the pageantry dream team is Dailin Barca, whose job is to make Paez feel confident and comfortable on stage. Barca’s coaching firm, Model Perfect Group, is geared primarily for modeling and personal development, but also offers private coaching for girls going into beauty pageants.
With Paez since in late 2017, Barca says she has focused on perfecting Paez’s walk and stage presence, “getting Georgina to a point where she’s supposed to be for a beauty pageant of this caliber.” And Barca should know – she’s experienced great success in modeling and pageantry, having won a number of titles herself over the years.
“And so I am happy to report she’s there. Georgina is right on point,” says Barca. “She is now able to hold her own among her fellow competitors,” many of whom have had many more years of practice and coaching, and some with as 10 more pageants under their belts.
“Georgina is proof that tenacity and attention to detail pay off – even after just six months of professional training. That’s because she has the willingness and drive to do exactly what must be done to excel.
“Of course it helps that Georgina is very talented naturally,” Barca added.
Pageant judges are very critical of hand movement, head movement, posture, the smile, the eyes, the face, the expression, the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, the movement, and the turns, says Barca.
“Delivery is what changes everything. So I tell my girls that if they sound interesting and look informed and confident, then people will listen.
“You need to get up there on stage and feel that you’re the queen already!”
With just a couple weeks to go before the national pageant, Barca is at “happy place” with Paez. “At this point, we are just polishing, perfecting, and knit-picking. But I am totally confidant she can do it.
“Georgina is up there with the best.”
After the Runway
Paez is thrilled not only with the prospect of being crowned and winning scholarship funding that will help her throughout college, but she is genuinely looking forward to fulfilling the responsibilities that come with the honor.
“If I win in the Orlando competition in July, I will have the opportunity to represent my entire country and serve communities, elderly, and children in as many ways as possible,” she said.
The USA National Miss Scholarship Organization is a national scholarship program that recognizes the personal achievement, community involvement, and academic excellence of young women all across the USA. The program is designed to award young women and to mentor them to reach their goals and unleash their true potential.
Before the Runway
Leading up to last January’s pageant in Melbourne, Paez was busy making big news in many other ways, including serving alongside Channel 10 Anchor Jenise Fernandez, MC of the “Heart of Gold” Fashion Show in April at the Coral Gables Woman’s Club.
Before that, she was selected for a major photo shoot in late November 2017 at the Faena Miami Beach Hotel in support of Miami’s Art Basil; and for the DAMA Fashion Show hosted by Macy’s in December where she not only won the Modeling School Magazine’s Cover Girl Award, but nabbed the Ms. Popularity title, as well.
And if that’s not enough, in recent months, the limelight has also been shining brightly upon Paez, as a result of key roles she landed in several independent films including “Vow: No Way Out” , “Clean Up on Aisle Nine,” and in a local indie called “Stillborn,” which premiered in December at the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
This rising star from West Kendall is not only on the fast track in the world of beauty pageants, modeling, and film, but she’s academically gifted, as well. Paez attends Kingdom Academy in Kendall where she is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, Future Business Leaders, and Ambassador Leadership Program.
“This is all so new and exciting for me,” says a beaming Paez. “I’ve been working so hard to achieve so many different things, but you just never expect it all to happen so fast.
“It’s just all just been so magical.”
For information about the National Miss Pageant in Orlando, visit http://usanationalmiss.com/nationals/