My heart is glittered like a period novel of poetic passages when I think about my pageant experiences:

Miss Teen Parkland County, Miss Teen Canada World, Tawnuel Phillips

Fairmont Royal York in Toronto

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel stood tall as its flags waved in the wind, celebrating the arm rests of its throne architecture which cleverly represents the Queen’s visits there. Inside as my feet carried me down the hallway towards the ballroom doors, my eyes greeted my excitement. As the doorknob turned clockwise and the latch clicked opened, my mind burst with colors of dreams to look at what was hidden inside. Chandeliers of gold and crystal hung from above. The extravagant room was made to hold the sunlight rays which shone inside the windows. O’ how my heart giggled at that precise moment, as my eyes danced with pictures of people waltzing at the ball like in the movie “Young Queen Victoria” or like an Irish dance in the movie “Titanic“. The breath of my heart flew like tiny butterflies to the smiles that I had yet to meet. I was thinking to myself, “Today is going to be good day.”

Teen World 2011 and Me in the Fairmont Ballroom

As the week continued progressing, I met all kinds of smiles, each one having something different to add. Their chorus of light-hearted laughter made people’s lips curve into an upward crescent moon. It was an awesome experience to be able to chat with these girls who are from different provinces and some who are from different countries, all talented girls with big dreams. It was my first time in Toronto and second time on a plane since I was three. What did this beautiful experience hold in store for me?

Day 1

Day one is a montage of memories: registration papers stacked in chronological order, suitcases awaiting their new home, clothes arriving on new hangers, a circle of seventy-four newcomers listening to professional advice on how to walk, dress, and make sure we present ourselves well.

My mind worked like a typewriter remembering important details that the instructor shared with us, storing it in my brain like a file. I put my gloves of confidence on, remembering to swing my hips from side to side like a broom, as the instructor guided different lines of girls to strut our stuff like models. The day summed up a whirlwind of fancy free imaginative expressing.

Day 2

Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

My Photoshoot in my Peach Cocktail Dress

Beep, beep, beep goes the alarm clock, reflecting 7:30 AM back at me: time to get the wheels in motion. Meditation and prayer are the rich vitamins that enrich my spirit to soar. Crackle, pop goes the steam presser as the color of my peach cocktail dress brightens. Tip-toeing around the room not to wake my roommate, Christina De Re, just yet. (Christina De Re: Definition by me – A bright, young woman with a heart full of passions of dreams, a good listener and a determined spirit, very well organized and a hard worker; a talented singer, songwriter, and piano player, I found out at the talent show.)

Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

Getting Makeup and Hair Done

Around 9:30, my roommate and I quickly grabbed our breakfast and headed to our room to eat and quickly change our dresses for the photo shoot and video shoot. Fifty-nine girls arrived with a no makeup and clean, unstyled hair; the other fifteen girls were chosen to partake in a modeling event. I could tell that a few of the girls at the photo shoot felt gross without their makeup on, so I spoke to them and said, “Hey, we’re bringing sexy back!” As much as possible, I tried to stay care free, even though there were a few moments when I got nervous. I had to stay calm so that my mind would be fluid in its thinking. Mind over matter.

The makeup brushes glittered my face in numerous colors and creams while the curling irons spiraled my hair into curls that covered my whole head. After my face had been beautified and my hair dolled up, my feet skipped over to the photo shoot where I gave it all my best. Flashes danced all around me like a carousel. Then my high heels found their way to the video shoot where they asked me four questions: What is my platform? What is my most embarrassing moment? Which celebrity would I invite to a dinner party and why? And, what are my hobbies? When you go into something that you think is very hard, sometimes you later find out that it wasn’t that hard at all; it was quick, fun, and easy, and you feel so much better after you’ve completed it.

Miss Teen Parkland County, Miss Teen Canada World, Tawnuel Phillips

Me in My Interview Dress with Miss Teen Manitoba

Then it was a quick change into my interview outfit and off to do a personal interview in front of the judges. I thought my interview went really well; I like to leave them laughing, and at the end, one of the judges was laughing at the way I was looking for my purse (that I was holding on to). Lol. Later that evening, we met a speaker by the name of Andrea Dana, the author of StarSitter (who knows Lindsey Lohan). She told us about some of the things she’s seen and done in her life as an actor coach on movie sets. Very cool! Then we ate dinner around 8:00. Afterwards, we each got our gold high heels and opening dress from Miss Teen Canada – World for the final show and skedaddled to our rooms.

Day 3

Hippo Tours, Toronto, Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

My Hippo Tour - I'm waving out of the second to the front seat window.

At precisely 6:30 AM, we were greeted by two Hippo Tour buses. I felt so excited that I wanted to click my heels like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music when she sang “I Have Confidence.” As we boarded the bus, we got noticed by people since we were all wearing crowns, and some of them wanted to take our picture. It was so much fun to wave at people, and see them wave back with big smiles on their faces. The wheels started rolling, and I knew then we were off. The wind sparkled my cheeks with its breeze and felt so refreshing. It was such a thrilling ride when the amphibious bus dove into Lake Ontario; my heart leaped and fluttered into tiny butterflies. When we passed by some yachts I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun to rent a boat and go fishing with my dad and little brother like we used to?”

CN Tower, Toronto, Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

View of Toronto from the CN Tower

Then the tour bus dropped us off at the CN Tower. I felt like a celebrity. We just walked right in, didn’t have to wait, went straight inside the elevator and up, up we went. It was an incredible view from the tower that was just absolutely beautiful. I would like to see the view at night with all the city lights dancing across the horizon.

Then it was off to the Ballroom Bowl & Grill . It was the first time I have ever played 10-pin bowling. I was thinking to myself, “Piece of cake,” but It’s a lot harder than it looks. After a couple of tries I got the hang of it, and thought it was really fun. E-Talk followed our story as it developed the whole day which was an interesting experience. Then we went to a Greek restaurant accompanied by Miss Teen World 2010, Anastasia Sidiropoulou, a native of Greece. The food was delicious, and overall we had a great day touring Toronto.

Day 4

Day four was a day to get our groove on. Shawn Cuffie had choreographed a dance number for the final show. We all danced to a song called “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull. The first group, which included me, got a type of salsa move. We really had to feel

Frankies Tomatto, Italian Restaurant, Toronto, Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

Frankies Tomatto Italian Restaurant

the music and “shake our groove thing”. By the time we were getting on the bus to go to Frankie Tomatto’s , I was still singing, “Give me everything tonight.” Frankie Tomatto’s is a buffet-style Italian food restaurant which has a really cool decor inside and out. The outside has a “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the inside has all kinds of ornate stations with many scrumptious foods to choose from. I was even able to find a generous selection of gluten free, dairy free foods. It’s and amazing place to eat, and I can’t wait to go back there again.

Billy Elliot, Miss Teen Parkland County, Miss Teen Canada World, Tawnuel Phillips

Me with the Young Star of "Billy Elliot"

Then we were off to “Billy Elliot,” the musical. I loved the show; it was amazing. The actors were phenomenal. Julian Elia, who played the part of Billy Elliot has so much talent. The show drew me in and had my eyes glued to the set because it felt like I was actually right in the middle of the action. Afterwards, the main actors came out, and we were able to take pictures with them and ask some questions. I love children; so, of course, I got a picture with Julian. It was a day I will never forget.

Day 5

We met Luke Bilyk from “Degrassi: The Next Generation“, who was one of our hosts for the Miss Teen Canada – World final pageant show. He read all the seventy-four girls’ names to make sure he was pronouncing them properly. As he called each girls’ name out one at a time, he came over and shook our hands. Some of the girls were getting a little carried away with screaming. Lol. But maybe it’s nice for him to know he’s liked that much. I’m not a screaming fan person. Then we did rehearsals and worked on our opening dance for the rest of the day.

Day 6

On day six, we took to a trip to Style Exchange accompanied by ET Canada. I bought a couple of items. Then we focused on preparations for the preliminary competition…..a world of adventure, make up brushes painting faces, dresses on display, the swim suit and evening gown judging beginning, and the excitement exhilarating.

Day 7

Day seven was talent night. We were busy with rehearsals for the final pageant show until we were called up to our rooms. By the time they sent me to my room, I had ten minutes to get ready for the talent show. I called my mom to tell her I had no time to practice my talent, but she insisted that I take the two minutes to

Talent Night, Miss Teen Canada World, You Still Love Me, Tawnuel Phillips

Click Here for "You Still Love Me" (Coming Soon...)

run through it one time. I was glad I did. Then I had to steam my dress. I don’t know how I got that done. I dashed around the room grabbing my stuff and managed to fall over my suitcases. I heard the ankle joint pop and felt pain in my ankle; but, thankfully, it was only a sprain. Tears stained my cheeks, and then I heard a knock at the door. It was Maram and Darren. I was so distracted with everything I still needed to do that I forgot to tell them I hurt my ankle. I didn’t want them to get the wrong impression that I was having some sort of breakdown, so I explained it later on to Michelle. Then I learned that anything that was already overcome was not necessary to mention when time was of the essence. I had picked myself up from my boot straps, touched up my makeup, combed my hair, pulling it over to the side as was, put my crown on, quickly finished putting my shoes on, put on my sash, and grabbed my purse. I told myself, “You can do this. Mind over matter.”

These are moments that make a person strong. Diving into the deep end in cold water jolts a person into action like nothing else can. This is the true value of a pageant. Being held up to a bright detective light to review the results of all one’s efforts and determine who has met the standard of completion and who has surpassed the bar of comparatives, is a great motivator for achievement. Every girl is a winner of a kind because every girl completed the pageant with style and was a candidate for a national title. Every girl who has been there knows what it takes to get there and has a better idea of anything that may still need improving.

Everybody did an amazing job with their talent, and we could see that each one had worked hard and put a lot of effort into it. When I finished my talent, I walked to a table knowing I won my personal challenge with myself. It was a great night for all the participants and an enjoyable evening for the audience.

Day 8

Miss Teen Parkland County, Miss Teen Canada World, Tawnuel Phillips

Me in My Evening Gown

The main event, the final Miss Teen Canada – World 2011 pageant show, was on day eight. The whole show was beautifully done and turned out great. Everybody’s efforts and hard work paid off and made the show a big success. We spent the whole first half of the morning getting ready for the show: hair, makeup, etc. Then on stage rehearsals were the main focus for the rest of the afternoon. During the show, when I didn’t get called for the top twenty I was disappointed, but I was happy for all the girls who won. I said to myself, “Well, this was a great learning experience, and I’m glad to have been a part of it. Somehow this pageant was part of what God has planned for me; I’ll follow His lead on where to proceed from here.” I told some of the girls who were crying backstage, “We are all winners. There is nothing we should be ashamed of. We made it this far, and we should be proud. We’re not going home empty-handed; we still have our regional titles, and we walk away with experience that will only help us to continue to grow.”

The Way Home

I loved looking out of my window on the plane at the clouds. It felt so peaceful, like I could stare at them forever and rest my head against the soft white fluff, listening to its sound. Toronto was amazing. It was refreshing to be in a different climate and see so many new things. With all the activities that Miss Teen Canada – World had arranged for us to go on, one could really see a lot of

Breakfast Television, Miss Teen Parkland County, Miss Teen Canada World, Tawnuel Phillips

Me and "Optimus Prime" Behind the Scenes at Breakfast Television

Toronto and learn about certain buildings and what the history was behind them. We had been on Breakfast Television which was a neat experience. We had worked with incredibly talented choreographers and pageant directors and learned so much from them about dance, model walking, and so much more. If you are going to enter into a pageant, don’t be surprised. It’s hard work, but it’s likely that you’ll never regret it. Every day I grew stronger and got even more efficient and organized. A pageant schedule doesn’t leave any time for goofing around or slack. Just when you think you can’t stretch time any further, you somehow do because you have to. My confidence is more alive from doing this pageant, and I am grateful. Hard work can be a tool of Love, and I”ll keep striving. I won’t give up until I realize my full potential of winning. I’ve just begun to adjust my sails and feel the extent of the angle I can balance against the wind. I feel a sense of excitement mounting as I contemplate for a moment the next starting dock. This is only the beginning.

Channing Schmendziuk, Miss Teen Canada World, Miss Teen Parkland County, Tawnuel Phillips

Me and Miss Teen Canada World 2010, Channing Smendziuk



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