CC-P, Christie Cole, is being interviewed for The Texas Beauty Shop, The Unofficial Miss Texas USA board. Talk about perfect timing. With Miss Texas Teen USA coming up, we have a celebrated titleholder who is willing to share her experience with all of us!
*ALL PHOTOS ARE THE PROPERTY OF CHRISTIE COLE AND THE UNOFFICIAL THE TEXAS BEAUTY SHOP AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT THE EXPRESSED PERMISSION OF THE OWNERS!*
Q. Hi Christie. How are you? Tell me about your earliest memory about pageantry, and what piqued your interest?
First, I just want to say that I appreciate you asking me to be interviewed for the Beauty Shop! I am doing quite well, thanks...just getting ready to be thrown into the Holidays. The Holidays for me be begin in October, and don't stop until the New Year! In between, we have Halloween, our Little-Man's Birthday, the Blood Drive for the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Thanksgiving, Miss Texas Teen USA (my 10-year anniversary!!!), then the Mr.'s Birthday, a Christmas Eve Dinner Party (that I am hosting) w/ Santa, Christmas Day, New Years Eve/Day......By the New Year, I am spent! LOL
Okay, to get back on track...My earliest memory of pageantry was in the late 80's. Texas was THE Powerhouse, Christie Brinkley was THE FACE of the 80's and I wanted to be JUST like her! We also had the same name, so in my little world, that was a great omen!
My Mother was given some information on a few local pageants in Savannah, GA, and she asked me if I wanted to try them out. Being the attention hound, err, I mean "Only Child" I am (ya, I know...some things never change...), I jumped at the opportunity to "get noticed"!
Q. Tell me about your earliest pageant experiences? Did you win titles? What was it like getting used to being on stage?
When I was little, I entered the All American Miss Pageants (2nd Alternate, Prettiest Eyes, Prettiest Face), Fall Festival (Winner), Easter Dreams and Best Wishes (Winner).
We were always in ballroom without a stage. There was the "T" that was taped off with masking tape where the girls were to model and an "X" where we were to stop and pose for the judges.
My Mother had hand gestures that she and I would use to communicate with each other while I was competing...She would take her index finger and point right under her chin when she wanted me to stop looking down. She would point to her lips when she wanted me to smile, and when my smile began looking forced, she would take her fingers and pull her lips apart (to make a funny face), and make me laugh...She continued doing this throughout the years...even during the last pageant that she and I competed with each other at! She is the BEST!
Q. When you were younger, how did you prepare for a pageant?
As a child competing, my Mother and I would go and look for my dresses together. I remember my favorite was a red, short dress with white lace trim, and it had bells that jingled lightly when I walked! It was too cute!
I also practiced walking while balancing a book on my head, and singing "How Much is that Doggie in the Window", my talent song. Other than that, I was just told to play lightly a few weeks before the pageant so I would not have scabbed knees, and to make sure that I did not pull any lose teeth I may have had before the pageants!
Q. You entered Texas Teen USA the year that Christie Lee Woods competed. Tell me about your experience as Miss Houston Teen.
Actually, Christie was already Miss Teen USA when I began competing in the USA System in 1996. I remember being so enamored by her. During Orientation, I remember sitting in my chair just staring at her, thinking that she was just so beautiful! I was 14 years old, and about as green as they come! Then came the time to meet her, and I was afraid to go and say Hello. I know it sounds silly, but I remember her sitting there with her Miss Teen USA crown and sash on. She was so regal looking. I'll be honest, I was scared to meet her. When I finally did get enough nerve to meet her, I was star-struck! I still have the photo she signed for me!
My first experience at Miss Houston Teen USA was a bit overwhelming. It had been years since I competed as a child, and this was on a totally different playing field!
I got my competition wardrobe at T. Carolyn's. I remember trying on this beautiful teal green strapless evening gown with my Mom. I told her that I thought I needed a bigger size, that I couldn't get it zipped in the back by myself...This lady comes up to me and yanks my zipper up and says to me, "This is pageant's honey...it'll fit!" I swear I couldn't breathe, and when my Mother finally managed to unzip me, I almost fell out! We also bought a teal chiffon and sequin off the shoulder cocktail dress (that I also wore to my 8th grade dance. Oh yes, we got our money out of these dresses, that's for sure!). I wore a black one-piece swimsuit...sans "boob-pads" because we thought that would be inappropriate for a teen!
I had my hair stylist come to my Aunts hotel room, and he did my hair...TEXAS STYLE! You know the style..."The higher the hair, the closer to God". I totally rocked it!
This was when there was only a Top 10, and the girls received scores about their performance. I was 13th out of 81 girls. I had a lot of fun, and told my Mother that I wanted to do State!
Q. Describe the pageant experience and atmosphere at Miss Texas Teen USA, being on stage, and your placement. What was your experience like? Did you make any friends?
I had a wonderful time at State! I have always been the outgoing type, so I really enjoyed meeting girls from all over the state. Some of us clicked right away, others, not so much. There were girls that were genuinely nice, and others that tried to play mind games by asking things like, "Oh, your wearing that?" and then walk away.
Going in, I felt more comfortable because Miss Houston USA/ Teen USA is always held at that same hotel, and being familiar with my surroundings helped me to relax.
I changed a few things about my appearance and wardrobe. I lost my Texas Hair, and opted for soft curls. I changed my gown and cocktail dress. The swimsuits were provided for us, and I got a pink one-piece.
I was extremely satisfied with my performance. Andi was a doll, and her Mother was just as sweet!
I was lucky enough to make a few friends....I still talk with most of them on a pretty regular basis!
Q. The same year, Andria Mullins won, and you were her third runner-up. How did it feel as the girls were narrowed to fifteen, ten and five? Do you remember your final question?
I was amazed! I kept thinking to myself that I just needed to stay calm...and breathe. I was so impressed with myself because I knew that no matter where I placed, I had already done better than I did at Miss Houston Teen USA, and I was pleased with that.
Off the top of my head, I don't remember what my interview question was. I'd have to dig out my old tapes, but I'd be glad to let you know once I find out!
Q. The following year you competed at Houston again. How did you do? Did you win any awards?
I decided to compete again for Miss Houston Teen USA, and was the Swimsuit Winner (I was FLOORED!!!) and also a finalist for Photogenic and Evening Gown!
Stacy Ransom won that year, and I was her 2nd Runner up. I totally BLEW my Final Interview Question on stage! My question was something along the lines of "What would I change about today's youth", or something to that effect. I started out strong, but end the end, I wavered and trailed off, rambling about how "...education is very, very important." After I walked off the stage, my eyes began to well up because I knew that I had lost it.
Even though I did well overall, I was really disappointed that I didn't win. I didn't go into hysterics or anything, but it was a really long ride home. I was more disappointed in myself that I got too confident after I won the Swimsuit Award.
The old superstition was that if the girl won SS, she was sure to win the crown. I let that go to my head I think, and it hurt me.
Q. It sounds like you almost did not go to state that year to compete. What changed your mind?
I was a bit disappointed after Miss Houston Teen USA. This was my third pageant (second at State), and I was having a difficult time getting sponsors, so that had me discouraged. I had my entry fee covered, but that was about it, and I knew I needed a new competition wardrobe, but I also knew that getting the sponsors for it was proving to be impossible!
Then, something in me changed, and I really began to focus on what I wanted. I started to actually visualize my goals, and do what I could to prepare!
Q. I hear you trained with Amanda Little's mom that year. What kind of preparation was required of you?
Because of the distance, Susan and I would phone once a week and she would help me with my interview. She taught me about the different kinds of questions, and how to read the judges.
When I went to Dallas to visit her, we worked on my on-stage presentation.
I cannot say enough great things about Susan Little! She was my mentor, and a great friend! Susan sacrificed so much for me, and I know that I will never be able to repay her for her kindness and generosity.
Q. What does it feel like being out on that stage in front of everyone?
It's very much a rush! I don't get nervous, until right before I get on stage, and then once I am there, and all eyes are on me, I am in my element!
Q. At Texas Teen, I know you were called near the end of the top 15. Was that nerve wracking?
I actually thought that I wouldn't make the Semi's that year. I was listening to who they called out, and I remember counting the spots. When they called the 10th spot, I started to get nervous. Then they got to 13, and I thought I was out for sure! I was the last girl to be called into the Semi-Finals!
During the competition, I remember feeling so relaxed, and glad that I was there! I knew that I had done my best to prepare, and it was all in God's hands.
Q. When you competed at Texas Teen and it was just you and Stacy at the end, what was that like? Were the two of you close?
It was very tense. We did not hold each others hands like most of the Final Two often do. I was told that in the end, half the audience was rooting for Stacy, and the other half was rooting for me, so the suspense was thick in the air! I just remember that it seemed like we were standing there forever, and it was silent...no talking, no music...just dead silence.
Stacy and I only knew each other because of the pageants. She was a few years older than I was, and we went to different schools.
Q. When you won, I hear you jumped nearly six feet in the air! LOL
Yes...You know, it's funny, but I can still remember standing there with Stacy, and all I could think about was how dark it was up there. This probably won't make any sense, but the lights were really bright on the stage, but I could not see anyone in the audience. I felt like I was dreaming, so I kept trying to look past the lights...past the audience.... to where the mirrors are in the back of the ballroom so I could watch what was happening. Somehow, watching made things seem more real.
After Dan did his thing, you know, the speech about how important the 1st Runner Up is....nearly giving me a heart attack! My heart was racing. I remember looking up, saying a little prayer, and then I hear Dan say, "...and the first runner up is....Miss Houston! Miss Southeast Texas, Christie Cole! Christie Cole, you're our new Miss Teen U...err Miss Texas Teen USA!" (I still get excited when I say those words!)
I can honestly say that I did not have any control over myself when I jumped...I just remember that all of my excitement just sort of burst, and came out in a two-foot vertical!
Q. How did you prepare for being on a national stage? Did you have a strict nutrition and workout regimen?
It didn't click for me and my family that I had just won the big one! We knew that this was the USA system, and we knew that I would be competing at Miss Teen USA, but for the longest time, it just didn't register for us!
I started running and working out a lot. I began training with my sponsors, and was put on a new diet...I am sure you all know the one...tuna, egg whites, oatmeal, fruit, etc.
I worked a lot with my sponsors, and we changed a few things about my appearance (hair, teeth, style), and also made more appearances to help with my public speaking abilities.
Q. How do you prepare for each phase of competition, swim suit, evening gown and interview?
In addition to the sponsor-provided training I was awarded, I received private coaching, and trained individually. The primary reason for the minimal training was so I didn't come across as being "over-coached". We mostly worked on my confidence because we knew that if I was confident (not cocky) everything else would fall right into place!
Q. How do you choose your gown? Why is this important?
My gown, to me, was very important. I had worked on designing it for months. I wanted it to reflect my personality, to make sure that color complimented my tone, but most importantly, I wanted to make sure I stood out so people (the judges) would remember me.
I got a little scared before Miss Teen USA because my dress wasn't ready until the DAY before I was to leave for Shreveport! It was just a smidgen too long, so while we were there, my Mother found a store that sold higher heels than what I brought with me. So I had about three days to teach myself how to walk in 5 INCH HEELS right before Finals! I think I only fell once...It all worked out!
Q. How do you prepare for walking in swim suit in heels?
I would practice walking up and down the stairs at my house in heels (I only stumbled twice!), and would even go and check the mail in them! I got really good, really fast!
I also learned that the "Jello" I had on the inside of my legs doesn't wiggle as much when I wore heels, so Heels and I became FAST friends!!! LOL!
Q. When you were called into the semifinals at Teen USA, what was going through your mind?
I was praying to God that he grant me the opportunity to advance, it's a selfish prayer, I know, but I was there for a reason. I wanted to make Texas proud of me, but more than that, I wanted to be on television, and I wanted to get something tangible from my experience there! Those were my goals.
I had a rough time in high school, as I am sure most girls who compete do. The girls absolutely hated me, and I liked giving them reasons to hate me! I also knew that if I didn't do well at Teen USA, I would never hear the end of it. I know that sounds horrible, but I wasn't well liked in school for many reasons, and the majority of them was because I didn't conform to their standards. I didn't have cliques, I hung out with everyone! I didn't make friends for social status, I made friends with people who had good hearts, and liked me for being the person I was on the inside...not because of what I was, or the title I held.
Q. You came so close to making the top 5. Many thought you were robbed. Did you realize how close you came at the time?
At that moment in time, no. I do remember briefly thinking to my self as I looked at the Top 5 that I came in 6th.
After we all went backstage, I cried a little. Not too much, but I have to admit, it is very emotionally draining on a girl. While you are there, it is a bunch of rush, rush....wait. When all is said and done, being able to let go and shed a few tears was sort of cleansing.
After that, I hung out with the guys from N'Sync, brushed out my hair, touched up my make-up, and just had fun with the ladies back stage! From then on, the pressure was gone, and I could have fun!
The Coronation Ball was a blast! We danced, congratulated the Semi-Finalists, the Top 5, Vanessa, and signed autographs. All my family was there. It was a really special time!
It wasn't until we came home that we were able to watch the telecast and figure out my exact placement. I was 1/100th of a point away from advancing to the Top 5! The pageant was the second in history to not be broadcast live.
President Clinton got himself into some legal troubles, and as a result, the Miss Teen USA pageant aired on a tape-delay rather than on a live telecast.
Q. Did you know Vanessa was such a huge favorite that year? Did you make friends? What were the other girls like? Do you keep in touch with any of the contestants?
Actually, no. I didn't know that she was a favorite to win. The girls were great! I am sure I don't have to explain what happens when you throw 51 teenage beauty queens together for two weeks! We all had our "moments" that weren't our best, but that is life, and you just can't please everyone!
All in all I feel confident is saying that my experience in Shreveport was nothing short of amazing. I met a few really super girls there that I still keep in touch with, and feel blessed to have been able to share my experience with all of them!
Q. After teen, I know you competed in other pageants before Texas USA. Can you tell me what those pageants were like? How did they differ than Teen USA?
I competed in the Sunburst, America, Teenage Texas, Texas United States Teen, Lyon's Club, and Cinderella Pageants. I have to be honest here. I have not participated in another pageant system that remotely comes close to the stellar production put on by Al and Gail. Trust me when I tell you that this system spoils a girl!
Q. What were your placements?
I always did really well. I won some, was a runner up in others, and received numerous awards, like: Best in Swimsuit, Prettiest Face, Prettiest Dress, Best in Interview, and scholarship money.
Q. Did you have any bad experiences competing?
I wouldn't say that I have had "Bad Experiences". I can say that some were definitely more enjoyable than others.
Q. Tell me about your experiences competing for Miss Texas. I hear you won Congeniality one year.
I competed for Miss Houston USA 2001. I was absolutely thrilled to have placed in the Semi-Finals!
Personally, I felt as though Dan was a bit harder on me than most of the other Semi-Finalists during the On-Stage Interview. Because I am an Army Brat, I was asked questions about the military, and my thoughts on our troops (pre-9/11). Being the person I am, and where I come from, I couldn't lie about where I stand on this issue...Not even for a pageant. Without getting into specifics (or debating the issue) my viewpoints differ from the majority of civilians, and I have my reasons. I will say that I whole-heartily support our troops. I believe that our freedom comes with a price, and many men and women pay with their lives every day to ensure we all maintain the freedoms we so very often take for granted.
To make a long story short, I did not advance to the Finals, however, I was was voted Miss Photogenic, and nominated by the other contestants as Miss Congeniality! It was truly an honor!
Because I made the Semi's at Houston, I was invited to compete at the 2001 Miss Texas USA pageant in Lubbock as Miss Bayou City.
Q. I know you were really ill during your last year competing at Texas USA. Can you tell me a little about that?
Yes, I fell ill during my Summer Semester in College, and had to drop out, quit my job, and move back home. I went to four different doctors over the course of about a month before I was finally sent to a specialist who performed emergency surgery on my large intestine. (I will spare you the specifics, but I will say that the doctor told me that if I had waited to do the surgery, I would have fallen into a coma due to all the blood I was passing.) I had to undergo a battery of testing to rule out other illnesses such as IBS, Colon Cancer, Endometriosis, and Ovarian Cancer. As part of my treatment to get me into remission, I was placed on medication that resulted is a massive weight gain (and b*tchiness!), new diet that was loaded with carbs, and a stress management program.
Basically, I was not allowed to eat anything red, nothing with seeds, which included fruits and vegetables, no nuts of any kind, nothing fried or greasy, and nothing with spice.
This was a very frustrating and depressing time for me.
I had already paid my entry fee to compete for Miss Texas USA (the year Kasi Kelly won) prior to getting sick, and was told that I would not get a refund if I did not compete.
After much deliberation, I made the decision to compete, with the understanding that I would merely be getting my feet wet. I knew going to Lubbock that I was not competition ready, but I wanted to go anyway because it was something I already committed to do, and it would not be fair to my sponsors if I didn't show up at all.
Q. It sounds like the medication did not allow you to compete at your highest level. What was it like to hear negative comments from other competitors and directors knowing that it was out of your control?
I am not going to lie to you. It was very hard on me and very hurtful! Rather than dwell on the negative side of the situation, I decided to use this as an opportunity of personal growth. I took the time I needed to figure out who I was again, focus on my health, and enjoy my life!
Q. How is your health now?
I am very happy to say that I have been in remission for over six years now!
Q. What made you stop competing for Texas USA?
There were many factors that aided in my decision to not compete anymore. I suppose if I had to pin-point a reason, it would be that competing was no longer for me.
I decided to focus other things, go back to school, and find my place in the world.
Q. I hear you went back to school after that to pursue your degree. Where did you attend, and what did you study?
I went to "The University of Tomball" (NHMCCD, it's not really a University, but that was the ongoing joke amongst the students) for a few years, then I attended Central Texas College. I studied Business Management/Marketing.
Q. What kind of job did you settle on?
After I went to college, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I believe that it is a lot to ask of a young, 20-something individual to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I most certainly didn't know, and I was having trouble with this because I am a bit of a control freak.
Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." That statement could not ring more true!
After Miss Texas USA, I got a job at a BMW dealership, and began saving some money. I was engaged to marry my high-school sweetheart, but God had a different plan for me...
I met my husband, Jack, while working at the dealership in the latter part of 2001. It was the most amazing feeling, EVER, when I realized that I was going to spend my life with this man!
We were standing outside the side entrance doors to the dealership, and as we were talking, I saw my life flash before my eyes...Like an out-of-body experience! I saw the two of us getting married, having a baby, and growing old together! I never experienced this feeling with my (then) fiance, so I knew that I had to follow my heart! It truly was the best decision I ever made!
Q. And then you got married and had a baby? It sounds like you feel fulfilled.
Absolutely! Jack and I took a month (January 2002) off from seeing each other so that we could "cut our loose ends", so to speak. It was important for us to start our relationship off the right way.
We took a giant leap, and I moved from my parents house in Tomball, into an apartment in Montrose on February 11, 2002.
Jack proposed to me that November.
We announced our Engagement to our family and friends just before Thanksgiving.
We decided to have a small outdoor, sun-set wedding ceremony that was held in the Garden at Vargo's in Houston in May. I believe there were about 120 guests total.
We welcomed a beautiful baby boy (Jackson Alexander Pearson) later that Fall.
Q. I know you also competed as a married woman. What pageants did you compete in and how did you do?
In 2005, both my Mother and I competed at the Mrs. Texas United America Pageant that was held in Austin. She was Mrs. Tomball, and I was Mrs. Southeast Texas. I placed in the Top 8. Unfortunately, my Mother did not place, though I had hoped she would. It was a wonderful bonding experience for the both of us. I had a blast helping her learn how to walk and utilize the runway, and choreographing a modeling routine for the Sportswear Competition for her! She was a HOOT, and she did really, really well! I am very proud of her!
Q. I know you started a business called Custom Crown Cases. Can you tell me about that and what and how you are doing? How can titleholders and directors contact you if they are interested in one of your cases?
In December of 2005, I started my business. The pageant that both my Mother and I competed in did not provide storage for our tiaras and sashes. As much as I love pageants, I simply could not fathom having my tiara and sash on display somewhere in my home just out in the open, so I created carrying cases for my Mother and I so we could store and protect our "Crowned Jewels" from curious babies, husbands, and pirates! LOL!
The business is going great. We aren't getting rich by any means, and I'm not planning on retirement anytime soon, but I stay pretty busy with it.
I am a sponsor for several pageant systems, and I won't say which State, BUT, there is a young woman from TEXAS who will be sporting a Custom Crown Case at Miss USA this year!!!!
If anyone is interested in purchasing a Custom Crown Case, please feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com (please put CUSTOM CROWN CASES in the subject line) or you may visit my website at www.customcrowncase.bravehost.com
Q. What are the upsides to being in pageants?
I have always taken something away from competition. I have used the experience as a stepping stone for personal improvement.
Pageants have helped girls gain the self-confidence, and poise that just can't be taught outside of the pageant-world.
The interview skills I have learned have been the single most important lesson I have taken with me throughout the years, and will continue to use for the rest of my life!
Q. What do you think the down sides are to being in pageants?
I am sure if we all sat down and really put our heads together, we could come up with down sides to most anything.
People compete in pageants for experience, for personal growth, and for the love of the game.
Again, pageants are an expensive hobby, and getting sponsors is not easy feat either! They help to "thicken ones skin", so to speak, because there is a lot of cattiness, and poor sportsmanship.
Pageants, in my opinion, teach important life-lessons, that are sometimes a little hard to learn, but I believe they are important for young girls to be exposed to.
Q. What is the most important advice you can give to pageant contestants?
There are so many cliche answers to this question.
All I can really say to a contestant is that she really needs to try to know herself before she competes. Competing will not help you to figure out who you are, but rather help to shape who you can become.
Should you win, your year is filled with opportunities for personal growth, and different types of exposure, and once you channel in on where you want that to go, networking and making contacts is much easier.
It is also important for you to know where you stand on issues, political and otherwise. There aren't any right or wrong answers because they are YOUR answers. This is how you set yourself apart from the typical "Cookie-Cutter" image of other competitors.
Pageants aren't about wearing a sparkly crown, and being a titleholder for a year. It is your JOB as said titleholder to promote your pageant and it's sponsors, as well as taking on an active role in your community.
Q. Do you have any parting words to add?
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for this interview, to my "fans" (I am trying hard not to sound pageant-y), it is because of all of you that my love for pageantry grows on a daily basis, and probably the biggest reason of all that I decided to open Custom Crown Cases.
It truly was an honor to represent our great state, and it warms my heart to know that I have made (and continue to make) you all proud. I am blessed to have such an amazing "Pageant Family"!
Thanks Christie for your time and for your contributions. You will always be a very popular titleholder. We always welcome your input.