La’teisha Fernandez is currently the reigning International United Miss – Teen Australia. She has been involved in Australian Pageantry for a number of years now, competing in both Miss Style and Glitz Pageantry.
La’teisha is also a trained Disability Support Worker, who is passionate about Disability and Aged Care and ensuring the more vulnerable members of our community have a voice. She volunteers weekly at the Ability Care Programme, where children of varying intellectual and physical disabilities are taught sporting skills and primarily have lots of fun. She believes strongly that pageantry is more than just a pretty face, it’s about using your title to give back to the community by volunteering, to raise funds and awareness for charities and importantly be the change you want to see in the World.
GEQ Magazine recently caught up with La’teisha to discuss her pageant journey and here’s what went down:
1. How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?
I wish it was something as glamourous as being discovered but the reality was, I was 11 years old at the time when I saw the Miss Universe competition on TV. I did some research about beauty pageants and found out that there were other pageants in Australia besides Miss Universe Australia. I convinced my mum to enter me, and I have loved them ever since.
2. What do you like most about being a beauty queen?
I love being on stage but more importantly, being a queen that allows me to promote causes close to my heart. I volunteer at the Broadbeach disability program where we work with children who have varying physical and intellectual disabilities. Being a beauty queen is more than what’s on the outside, and what we do with that title is what makes us a true queen.
3. The downside to being a beauty queen?
The negative judgment you can get from some people because they don’t understand what a “beauty queen” is. But I have learned from a young age to not worry about what people think of me. It’s more important to stay true to yourself.
4. What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?
I was competing at a local pageant and just before the interview segment, I got makeup all over my interview dress, the dress was unusable. To my relief, another entrant, Bek and her mum Nicole came to my rescue and loaned me a dress of theirs. I went on to win that section of the pageant, which would not have been possible without their kindness. It reinforced to me, that whilst we are competing against each other, we can still be kind and caring. Luckily I was able to repay their kindness by lending Bek a dress of mine which she wore when winning a prestigious international pageant. We are friends to this day and value their support and love.
5. Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I was fortunate enough to meet Steve Roddy (founder of the pageant planet). During our lengthy conversation he found out I was having a pageant break at the time, he was so incredibly encouraging and convincing about me returning to pageantry. I value his advice and support to this day.
6. What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
You should never compare yourself to anyone else, you are your own person and unique in every way. Don’t try to blend in, your difference is what makes you unique.
7. Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?
Being in a big family means no one lets anyone else take themselves too seriously. I was always brought up to be kind to everyone no matter what their job is, what they look like, and how they act to you. it’s important to look past the exterior of a person.
8. Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?
Yes, my family has always been my biggest fan. They have always gone to my pageants, been my biggest cheer squad, and made an effort to help me practice my routines and speeches.
9. What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.
I completed my study this year to be a disability carer and start working in June for an amazing organisation whose focus is on providing support to not only Disabled members of our community but to refugees and their families as well. I feel very blessed to be able to fulfill my passion in this area.
I am currently Teen Australia for International United Miss and am very excited to be a part of this amazing organisation who values community service and charitable work. I hope to compete in the US in July this year.
The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Frozen 2
2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Being caring and kind to not only your loved ones but to random people.
3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Go to a third world country and experience living in the small villages and to help where I can.
4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Swim with sharks
5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? My nose, I used to be really insecure about my “Indian nose” but since I have gotten older I have realised that it makes me unique and makes me “me”.