Aug. 2, 2005 – Striding toward the dream of being a "world class entertainer," St. Thomian Esonica Veira took first place Saturday at Ms. Hal Jackson's International Talented Teen Scholarship Pageant in St. Maarten with a dance routine taken from Michael Jackson music videos.
"I've been a Michael Jackson fan for a long time," Veira, 16, said. "I can moonwalk, I can glide anything you've seen Michael do, I can do. I've been practicing his moves since I was in seventh grade, and with some help, I've been able to put them into an act."
This compositiona montage of dance moves from Billy Jean, Smooth Criminal, and Rock with You videosalso helped to win Veira the title of Best Talent within the pageant, and scholarships totaling $6,000 to put toward the college of her choice.
"It was such a wonderful experience," Veira, 16, said. "There were 33 other girls competing with me, and they were all so beautiful and nice I never expected to win."
A favorite of the judges, however, Veira easily edged through the two elimination rounds. "The actual pageant was on July 20, but the girls had to report there on July 22. The Friday before the pageant, Veira made it into the top ten, and the Saturday before the pageant, she made it into the top five," Claire Roker, pageant producer and director, said. Roker added that other contestants came from across the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean.
"I became friends with a lot of them [other contestants]," Veira said. "That's part of what made me so nervous during the process." Veira added that during the top five round, she was the last contestant to get called.
"I saw the girls I had become friends with getting called to be in the top five, and I was happy for them, but I was also nervous and a bit disappointed. But then I was picked and after that, it was like a dream come true, because I went on to win the pageant," Veira said.
"This is the first time a representative from St. Thomas has won this title," Roker added. "We have won it four times before, but the representatives were all from St. Croix."
In addition to scholarship moneywhich Veira hopes will land her in a West Coast collegethe young Miss Talented Teen will get to travel extensively throughout the BVI, Italy, and France. "I get to go to places that I've never been before," Veira said. "This is so amazing."
Coming in the top five behind Veira were representatives from Connecticut, Trinidad and Tobago, Georgia, and California.
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