When Bianca Carelli’s five-year-old sister wants to play princess dress-up, she doesn’t need to look too far for a tiara to top off her gown – she need only ask to borrow one from her newly crowned sister, Miss Teen Ontario.
“She’s so totally into the princess stuff, so this pageant was so much fun for her,” 17-year-old Bianca, a Richview Collegiate senior, said of the Miss Teen Ontario competition she won on Jan. 20. “She’s always asking to try on my crown. She’s so cute.”
An aspiring doctor with straight As, Bianca said she was lured into applying for Miss Teen Ontario – her first ever pageant – last year when she came across the website online.
“Seeing pageants on TV, I thought that it was something I could be really good at because I just love performing,” said Bianca, noting that she’s danced competitively since age four (hip hop, jazz and ballet), and also participates in musical theatre and belongs to an improv team. “And I’m also pretty good in school, so I thought I would probably be able to answer the interview questions pretty well, too.”
After filling in an online application and being interviewed by pageant officials over Skype, Bianca was chosen as one of 48 girls from across the province to compete in the Jan. 20 Miss Teen Ontario pageant.
The two-day event saw the girls descending upon the Holiday Inn airport hotel for a full day of rehearsals and interviews on Jan. 19, followed on the 20th by more rehearsals, hair and makeup and then the big event – in front of a crowd of nearly 600 people.
When asked about stage fright, Bianca said “Not at all!”
“I have the complete opposite of stage fright. When I go on stage, the minute I have that attention from everyone, that’s when I do my best,” she said, noting that she and the other girls were scored by pageant judges on their interview responses, gown and bathing suit competitions, and on their “overall impression.” “I just fed off that energy on stage.”
While her parents were both skeptical of the pageant at first, Bianca said that all changed when she took home the crown and assumed her duties as the 2013 Miss Teen Ontario.
“At first they were just trying to keep me realistic, saying ‘don’t worry if you don’t win,’ but now that I won, they’re all so excited and everyone in my family is being really supportive,” she said.
Bianca’s first official appearance with her crown and sash was at St. George Junior School in Etobicoke this week, where she read a story to the kindergarten class.
“I have to do a minimum of two appearances, but of course I want to make the most of my title this year and do as much as I can in my community,” she said.
Now that the Ontario title is hers, Bianca is getting ready to compete in the nationals for the Miss Teen Canada title in July in front of a hometown audience. While having all her family and friends in the audience is one edge Bianca hopes to have over her competitors, she also thinks her multicultural background – she’s part Metis, Finnish, Pakistani and Italian – will also give her a leg up.
“It’s another advantage, I feel, at the Miss Teen Canada competition, just because Canada represents multiculturalism – and that’s me,” she said.
But while the aspiring neurosurgeon is enjoying her success on the pageant stage, she doesn’t want her title to define her.
“With the pageant thing, I wouldn’t want somebody – not that I really care what other people think – but I don’t want to be known as just a face,” said the avid student council member, who also serves as co-president of her school’s girls’ group. “I want people to know that I also have a brain, too – and being Dr. Carelli will prove that.”