SORRENTO — Outwardly shy and described by her family as “definitely not a girly-girl,” Gabrielle Mobley turns into a confident, poised beauty when she steps on a pageant stage.
And mom Julie Adams, of Sorrento, says she’s surprised that what started out as a way to “get her out of her shell” has turned into a run at a world beauty title.
Gabrielle, 9, started her pageant journey two years ago when her mom, who home-schooled her only daughter, decided to try a pageant to help her daughter overcome shyness. While Gabrielle had fun, they decided one pageant was enough.
However, earlier this year, the family learned about the Our Little Miss organization, a natural pageant that doesn’t push the glitz side of pageants.
No false eyelashes or hair extension are needed for the Our Little Miss pageants, and that was attractive to Adams, who was still looking for a way to get her daughter involved in a positive competitive situation.
“We had no expectations and she wins,” Adams said.
That win qualified Gabrielle to compete in Jennings on Oct. 26 for a state title.
“And she won again,” Adams said.
The family is now preparing for a run at a 2015 World Universal Beauty title Jan. 15-19 in Dallas.
“We’re not sure about the whole royal thing,” Adams said as she adjusted her daughter’s crown and sash in preparation to take photographs recently. “But, she’s learning how to be royal.”
She has picked up some tips on being royal from Asha Wilson, another Ascension Parish youth who won a world pageant title earlier this year.
“It’s a lot to learn,” Adams said.
Gabrielle competes in the 7- to 9-year-old division.
As the reigning Louisiana Universal Beauty queen, Gabrielle has ridden in several parades.
The crown also gives her a chance to give back to the community through volunteer work.
“I like helping people,” Gabrielle said.
Adams, who grew up in Chalmette, decided to move to Sorrento after the death of her father. She wanted to help her mother, who had moved to the area after Hurricane Katrina.
Adams said pageant competition has become a family affair with her mom, Betty Bertucci, helping out.
“She turns into another person on stage,” Bertucci said of her granddaughter. “She’s really a tomboy most of the time.”
Neighbors and friends from the family’s church have “been a big help since we started this,” Adams said.
One of Gabrielle’s biggest fans is Nora Decoteau, a 93-year-old neighbor who has known Gabrielle since she was 4 months old.
Decoteau said she enjoys Gabrielle’s visits.
“It makes my day when she visits,” Decoteau said. “She lights up the room. I just love her.”
Gabrielle said she enjoys dressing up in fancy dresses for the pageant and likes the competition.
“And meeting new friends,” Gabrielle said. “So far, everyone’s been nice.”
For Adams, the pageants are about more than competition.
“Our goal, however, is to be a light in the darkness and to be a reflection of Jesus as the light of the world,” Adams said. “That’s what the crown represents to us and hopefully will to many. It’s not about winning but spreading kindness, and sharing the beauty inside each one of us.”