As seen on TV? Real life 'Toddlers and Tiaras'

As seen on TV? Real life 'Toddlers and Tiaras' »Play Video
Gabriella Felix

This week on and KVAL 13 TV News at 5: The 'Real Reality' series takes TV reality shows and looks for local residents whose real lives reflect what audiences see on the screen.

EUGENE, Ore. - Ten-year-old Gabriella Felix knows how to compete.

"She's Oregon royalty, this is her banner and she'll hold this title until next year," said her grandmother Lynn Site.

The Eugene native has been in 100 beauty pageants since the age of 1.

"The very first pageant that she did at 1 she took overall photogenic," said Site, "which is very rare for a baby to take in a pageant."

And it wouldn't be her last win.

If you were to look around Gabby's house, you would be amazed to see hundreds of tiaras, trophy's and gowns packed in a corner of her family's kitchen.

"Gabby practices every day. It takes every day practice for this," said her grandmother.

She's competed all over the country. "I've been to Tennessee, Montana, California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada," said Gabby.

And competing isn't cheap, according to Site. Dresses and other expenses can quickly add up.

"Some dresses cost like a thousand dollars or more," said Site.

But for her, it's not just about competing. Site said Gabby has gained confidence and friends by participating in pageants.

"The message we're trying to give her is you don't have to win. You try your best and be happy for those who do win."

In October, Gabby went for the crown again, competing in the Regal Majesty Pageant in Eugene.

"I have to practice every single day when I get home," said Gabby.

On a Thursday night, Gabby danced in her kitchen, practicing her tap routine to the tune 'Domino.'

Site said she competes in glitz pageants, complete with big hair and make-up, but for Regal Majesty, they wanted a more natural look.

"Gabby's not one of these little kids you usually see on 'Toddlers and Tiaras,' " she said.

On the day of the pageant, babies, toddlers and teens practice before the competition.

"It's a semi-natural pageant which means the girls can wear a touch of make-up," said pageant director Monica Berginc.

A quick fluff of the hair and make-up touch up and the girls are off.

Berginc said you won't find any fake looks at her pageant. "A lot of people hear a pageant and they go, ugh. And I said, it's not what you think it is, it's not what you see on TV."

Judges look for just one thing.

"I think the most important thing for us is personality," said longtime judge Linda Tracy.

Girls, including Gabby, took to the stage, in their big gowns.

But unlike other pageants she's been in, on this day, every girl walks away with a sash and a crown.  

"My ultimate goal is for every girl to leave here with a huge smile on her face and say I had fun," said Berginc.