Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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November 16, 2006

Miss Texas just the girl next door

Jenna Simmons will spend the next week going to parties, touring Hollywood, visiting Disneyland and trying to win a national beauty crown.

Then, when the excitement is over, she’ll be back studying acting in Athens.

Simmons, who is a native of Nederland, near Beaumont, has been competing in beauty contests since she was 5 years old, although she describes her younger self as “an awkward kid.”

“I was really skinny and really, really short,” said Simmons. “I played softball and was really a tomboy.”

Despite her awkwardness, she won her first big beauty title her fifth grade year at the Nederland Heritage Festival pageant.

“I told my mom I wasn’t going to wear my glasses for my next pageant, and that was the one I won. It was a huge confidence boost,” said Simmons.

Now, at age 18, Simmons is an old hand at beauty contests and has held several titles. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, she will be competing for her largest title ever. Simmons, a freshman at Trinity Valley Community College, will be leaving for Anaheim, Calif., on Friday to vie for the title of National American Miss Teen.

She already holds a state crown, National American Miss Texas Teen, which she earned in June at a competition in Houston. Her state title guaranteed her more than $1,500 in prizes and a spot in the Nov. 24-26 pageant for the national title.

Not too bad for the daughter of a nurse and a firefighter, said Simmons.

She was pretty surprised when she landed the state title, she said, especially since she was sick.

“When I won the Miss Texas Teen, I was crying and trying not to cough,” said Simmons. “There were 141 girls there, and I thought I didn’t have a chance.”

She is determined not to be sick during the national pageant, since she’s been ill or injured during several pageants. In one competition, she fell down the stairs at a rehearsal and had a swollen toe during the pageant.

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