Nicole Rhonda-Korin Gerry not only has two middle names; she has two pageant titles. Her most recent is Miss Northern California Jr. Teen 2006. She's hoping to garner her third title this fall.
According to Nicole, it's not about the stereotypical brainless beauties and girls fighting one another. It's about girls evolving into confident young women.
"We learn poise and presentation, and how to get over stage fright," said Nicole, a Discovery Bay resident and sophomore at Liberty High School. At age 14, she stands 5'8' and has blossomed competitively in the last two years, even though she's always had a flair for center stage. Modeling since age 4, she also sings, acts, water skis, plays piano and dances at Expressions Dance Company in Brentwood.
Last year, Nicole earned the Miss Northern California Jr. Teen Model 2005 title by competing with 98 girls. She walked away with $1,900 in cash prizes, seven trophies, and made first place in the Most Photogenic, Most Promising Model, and Sportswear Modeling competitions.
The answer to this year's pageant question described her in one Italian dish.
"They asked me what food best describes me, and I said 'lasagna.' It's my favorite dish and it has lots of layers. I can be fun and outgoing and I can be serious. I can be a little cheesy at times, too!"
Her dream college is Julliard or NYU, "but my mom would never let me go, because she'd cry! I want to go to any college that has a big performing arts program."
Mom, Jillene Sutak, doesn't take any credit for Nicole's accomplishments.
"She did it all by herself; I'm just the chauffeur," she said. "I'm so excited for her and very proud."
As reigning state queen, Nicole must represent her title and the pageant wherever she goes. She plans to visit Oakland Children's Hospital to make tiaras and crowns for the children. She will also visit Governor Schwarzenegger, Brentwood Mayor Swisher, and participate in the Brentwood Homecoming Parade.
"I have to meet with other state queens and do charity work with them, crown my successor, and compete in the Nationals this year in Orlando, Florida for a week," said Nicole, who is inseparable from her Yorkshire terrier, Sadie.
She'll fly to Orlando with mother and best friend Jennelle Metrick, also a sophomore at Liberty. Her father, Mark Gerry, stepfather Andy Sutak and siblings Nick and Ashlee will attend the final day of competition.
"It's a lot of work. It involves a lot of packing, interviews, deadlines and practice questions," said Nicole, who loves kids and visiting the elderly.
"The most challenging is the interview. You're in a room with five judges and you get one minute with each one. One year a judge asked me to tell him a joke. They judge you on how quickly you respond. I sum up pageants with one word - fun!"