Houston native and 14-year-old Nicole Mayberry, a sophomore at Ridge Point High School, was just crowned the first Teen Universe Pre-Teen Texas in May.
Mayberry will go on to represent the Lone Star State in the Teen Universe Pre-Teen USA national finals in Orlando in October.
The victorious queen shared her path to victory, discussed what lies ahead for her during her year-long reign, and talked about what it means to her to represent the Lone Star State.
Q: What was it like being the first person crowned Teen Universe Pre-Teen Texas?
A: I’m very excited to be the first. I’m kind of setting the path for all the winners to come. It’s like, wow, I have to set an example for everyone else. It is a little bit of pressure but a good kind of pressure.
Q: What sparked your interest in beauty pageants?
A: Somebody asked my mom if I wanted to do it and she asked me. And I was like ‘I think it’s something I’ll try. It wasn’t something I looked up or searched. It was something that was kind of spontaneous and it was just like ‘Ok, I'm going to do this pageant.’ As I did the workshops and met all the girls, I got really into the pageant and it just ended up being something I really enjoyed. I really enjoyed being on stage. Naturally, I’m a performer and I love to be on stage. It was really fun and I just wanted to continue doing it.
Q: When did you first start competing in pageants?
A: I started last year when I was 13.
Q: Did you imagine you’d get this far in the course of a year?
A: I really didn’t know I was going to advance this quickly. I did train a lot and I was just like ‘whatever happens, happens but I’m going to go out there and do my best,’ especially since this was only the second pageant I’d ever done.
Q: How did you prepare for the Teen Universe Pre-Teen Texas pageant?
A: I put on my heels and walked all around my house, every day, practicing my pageant walk.I would do it until my feet hurt and I would just do that every day, continuously, continuously. And I would record myself to see how I was walking so I could get better at it.
For interview, I did train a lot on my own. What I did to train for interview was basically I just looked up a whole big list of pageant questions and practiced answering them in front of a mirror, acting like a judge was there, and I practiced on my mom as well. She would give me feedback and I would take that and revamp my answers.
Q: What do you like about competing in pageants?
A: I just really enjoy pageants because of the competitive aspects of it and the sisterhood, how I get to meet all kinds of new people. Also, me being a performer acting and singing since I was young, it’s just something I like where instead of playing a character I get to actually express myself and be my true self instead of somebody else and getting to see that people actually liked who I was and that I was getting to represent and be a role model of my own as my own person.
Q: What activities are you involved in outside of pageants?
A: I do modeling and acting as well. I’m in choir and I just made varsity theater so that’s going to be a big commitment. I’m also a part of AAYGC [Asian American Youth Giving Circle], which is a youth giving circle where we all pool together money and donate to organizations that are helping people and we go and volunteer. That’s actually where I got my inspiration for my platform to donate to food insecure animals and people who don’t have food for themselves who are also food insecure because we donated to a local charity who packs animal food and donates it to people. I went and volunteered there and I just became very passionate about it. I’m also in Girl Scouts. I’ve been in it since I was a Daisy. I’m currently working on my Gold award right now.
Q: How does it feel to represent Houston and Texas in the national finals in Orlando in October?
A: I’m very excited. It is a huge honor that I’m able to represent my home city and my home state. I want to do my best to represent Texas. I’m ready to compete and I’m very excited. I’m also excited to meet the other girls from all around. It’s just really fun that I’m going to get to meet all sorts of people representing the state I love and I want to make everyone proud and just be a good representative of our state. Obviously, I do want to bring home the crown as well. I really do want to because it’ll help me get the national attention for my platform so more people, even outside of Texas, can see we need to focus more on animals who are food insecure and people with animals who are food insecure.
Q: What are your plans post-high school?
A: I know when I get to college, I definitely want to pursue studies in business and theater. One of my goals is to own a business and continue acting and modeling and I want to be a singer as well. I also really want to continue with volunteering any chance I can.
Q: You mentioned your mixed-race lineage is an integral part of your identity. Could you talk about that?
I’m actually very mixed. A lot of people, when they see me they ask me what I am because a lot of people have no clue or they just assume. I’m mixed with a lot of different cultures and backgrounds. It’s uncommon to see someone mixed, or especially someone super mixed like me, in a role model position. Even in AAYGC, I’m the only one who looks like me in the whole circle. I want other young girls who are mixed, and boys too, just to know that it doesn’t matter what you look like or how many backgrounds you come from, you can do anything you want to do. Even though you might feel like there’s not as much representation, there are people there.
I don’t want people to feel like they have to pick a side and only refer to themselves as one background. In reality, I want to refer to all my backgrounds. There have been people who have tried to get me to pick a side or only go by one of my backgrounds but I just don’t feel like that’s something I should be because I’m proud of all my heritages and where I come from.
Q: What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Houston?
A: The rodeo.
Q: What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Texas?
A: Blue Bell.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Houston?
A: My favorite thing about Houston is the rodeo, even though it’s only something that comes around once a year. I love the rodeo carnival. That’s probably my favorite part of the rodeo. I just love thrill rides. They're so fun to me. My family is very about eating healthy so the rodeo is my time to eat that fried Nutella sort of stuff.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Texas?
A: It’s probably Six Flags. I have a season pass to Six Flags. I love to drive to San Antonio and Dallas and visit my friends there and go to Six Flags. I also love the Riverwalk in San Antonio. I love the beauty and scenery of Texas too. And brisket. Barbecue in Texas. Nothing beats that to me.
Q: You sound like quite the foodie. That begs the question, what’s your favorite restaurant in Houston?
A: I really love Big Horn and Rudy’s. They both have really good barbecue. I do love Pappadeaux and BJ’s as well because I love their pizookies.
Q: Do you plan to continue competing in pageants throughout high school?
A: Yes, it is something I want to continue to do. I think I’ve fallen in love with pageantry. I love all the aspects of it. A lot of people think you have to have a certain look, like blonde hari and blue eyes, but it’s not about that. It’s about who you are as a person, your personality and how you want to get your message spread and how you want to be a role model for other people. That’s what I love about pageants.
Q: What are you looking forward to this year?
A: I’m definitely looking forward to doing more events with my title, especially with my pageant sisters. The Teen Universe Texas, Gwen, we have a lot in common because we’re both theater kids. I really like to hang out with her even though I haven’t known her very long. I’m looking forward to sharing this year with her and doing stuff together as queens.
I’m also looking forward to starting varsity theater. I screamed when I made it in. I was so excited when I made it in. I’m very excited to get more opportunities to act and be on stage.
And I’m also very excited to go to the national pageant in Florida. I’m a huge Disney fan. Something I love so much is Disney. I just like Disney movies, the park, I love Disney as a whole.
Nicole is currently raising funds to cover a portion of her costs to participate in the national pageant in October. For more information on the fundraiser or to support Nicole’s journey to nationals, click here. You can follow Nicole on Instagram and Twitter at @nicolemayberry and on Facebook at @nicoledmayberry.