When it came to losing the Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageant, this Boutte teen was fine with it.“I feel pretty great because it was my first time competing in a pageant like that,” said Monae Gordon. “I learned that you’ve got to be completely devoted to competition and it’s a lot of hard work. It’s not just about the beauty part.”
For a 14-year-old attending J.B. Martin Middle School, Gordon was jazzed about learning what it takes to wear the crown at the competition recently held at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie.
“I feel that the most interesting thing was being with so many amazing girls and being able to experience that kind of independence because you had a roommate and slept in a hotel,” Gordon said.
Competing on this level at her age was her idea.
Gordon said she’s always dreamed of competing in pageants like this one, but understood she was there for the experience.
“I just decided that one day I wanted to represent my state and this would be a great opportunity for me,” she said.
As the youngest of all 61 contestants in the pageant, her mother, JeTaime Gordon, said her daughter placed in the top 15 of 33 contestants in her category in the teen division. She competed against juniors and seniors in high school, as well as freshmen in her division.
“It’s huge,” said her mother. “No one from Boutte, let alone St. Charles Parish, has done something like this.”
Her mother added, “Everybody was surprised. She’s in eighth grade.”
Monae has been competing in pageants since she was 2 years old, she said. She’s won the Catfish Pageant at least twice, winning the Little Miss and Deb Miss titles, as well as other titles that had her considering a step up in August.
This is when she set her sights on the Miss Louisiana Teen USA Pageant.
“She wanted to do something bigger,” her mother said. “The next day, after signing up online, she got a call. We were in shock, and we said, ‘Well, let’s go for it.’”
Monae went up against polished and experienced contestants while she had only a little dance instruction.
“She just went out there and did her own thing against girls practicing for years,” said her mother. “She had practiced two months yet came up in the top 15 in her teen category.”
Monae hopes the experience opens doors for her.
“I hope it will express who I am to the state and the world so people will know who I am,” she said. “My platform at the pageant was anti-bullying and peer pressure.”
She was equally excited that her friends watched the pageant in live streaming and have been supportive of her efforts.
Although she said competing with experienced contestants was a little intimidating, she also recognized it as a good learning experience.
“I really just learned how to carry myself better and ropes behind the scenes of it all,” Monae said.
The strongest area she gained pointers in was interviewing.
“I’m definitely going to go back and try again better prepared,” she said. “I really would take from this pageant that, even though you don’t always win – you win new experiences and friends.”
Monae plans to carry these experiences over into her pursuing a career as a heart surgeon.
“My grandmother had heart failure and she was like my best friend,” she said. “I decided I wanted to help save lives, and especially with what she’s going through.”