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Jackson BellFor Koreen Dickson, beauty pageants are...

Jackson Bell

For Koreen Dickson, beauty pageants are about more than just looks.

The versatility of the participants is also on display.

“It shows that a lot of the girls in pageants have brains along

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with beauty,” said Dickson, 19, a Cal State Northridge sophomore who

was crowned Miss Burbank in March. “It’s important to portray girls

as intelligent because a lot of times, they aren’t portrayed that way

in the media.”

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Dickson and Aijia Guttman, Miss Teen Burbank, are among the more

than 120 contestants who have competed since Wednesday in Fresno for

the Miss California USA and Miss Teen California USA titles. The

winners will be announced late tonight.

Guttman, a Burbank High School senior, is no stranger to scrutiny.

She is a working actress who has made commercials and appeared in

movies and on TV.

“Many of girls get nervous, but since I go to a lot of auditions

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and interviews, I’m not that scared,” Guttman said. “I use it to my

advantage.”

Contestants are judged while dressed in evening gowns and

swimsuits and during individual interviews, said Summer O’Brien, a

Miss California USA Pageants spokeswoman.

The winners will receive state crowns, $5,000 each in cash prizes

and a chance to compete for the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants,

which are co-owned by billionaire developer Donald Trump and NBC.

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But for the participants, finishing first isn’t the only reward.

“Even if they don’t win the crown, the girls can meet agents in

the talent and entertainment industries as well as [representatives]

from the law and medical fields,” O’Brien said. “It’s not just for

the winners.”

Guttman, who said winning the crown would be “icing on the cake,”

added that one of biggest honors that comes from participating is

being a positive role model to younger girls.

And even though it’s hard work, both Burbank contestants say they

are having a good time.

“Besides training with my coaches, I’ve also been tanning and

getting my nails done -- all the fun stuff girls love to do but don’t

make the time for,” Dickson said.


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