By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Though she has only lived in the Palisades since August 2019, Alexandra Zacky is all in.

Born and raised in Sherman Oaks, Zacky’s father took her and her brother when they were young to see the town he grew up in—Pacific Palisades—and they said they loved it and that they wanted to go to Palisades Charter High School someday.

Now, after a few months of living and loving it in the Palisades, Zacky will soon be representing the community at the upcoming Miss California Teen USA Pageant as Miss Pacific Palisades Teen USA.

This will not be her first pageant: Zacky also earned the title of Miss Young Philippines USA 2018.

“It honestly first came up for me as a complete surprise,” Zacky shared about getting involved in the world of pageants.

About two years ago, Zacky, who is half Filipina, was searching for a traditional Filipiniana dress and the dressmaker coincidentally ran the Miss Philippines USA pageant.

“I had just gone through a lot of depression and anxiety, a lot of struggles with my own self-image,” Zacky recalled. “I wanted to take a chance and prove myself wrong about all of these awful thoughts that I’ve had about myself, and I just thought, ‘Why not participate in a pageant?’”

Now she’s hooked. Zacky said that she’s been bit by the pageant bug and has not stopped doing it since.

To earn the title of Miss Pacific Palisades Teen USA Zacky shared that she went through a “rigorous” process, where she submitted an online application, information about herself, a headshot and why she wanted to compete.

“They would give you a title if they thought that you were ready to compete,” she explained. “I was fortunate enough to get the Palisades title.”

Zacky shared that she finds there are misconceptions about beauty pageants and that it’s not all about looks—it’s about confidence in your own skin.

“It’s gravitated to a level where you have to feel comfortable in your own skin because that confidence radiates toward the judges,” Zacky said. “They’re not looking at you and if you’re the most fit or if you are the prettiest out of all of them, it’s just about how you feel with yourself.”

Zacky hopes that she can use the platform that pageants give her to work with organizations like NAMI and The Trevor Project.

“It’s really important to me,” she shared “I want to be an advocate for mental health awareness and mental health for teens, so I want to dedicate as much time as possible to really bring a lot of attention to those organizations and hopefully bring up some funding and make a difference in something.”

Her proudest accomplishment through pageantry so far that she was able to do after winning her first title was to take an advocacy tour to the Philippines.

“On my sweet 16, I asked for no presents, just donations from everybody who attended,” she explained. “All of the money I collected would be put 100% toward that advocacy tour in the Philippines—not even paying for tickets or hotels, just all of it for charity.”

Over the course of the tour, she was able to visit her mother’s hometown with her sister queens from Miss Philippines USA. With the $3,400 she received at her sweet 16, Zacky was able to give 1,000 meals, provide 500 kids with school supplies and fund a dental program for 100 kids.

“It was amazing … that I was able to build a platform like that and do something,” Zacky shared. “That was one of the biggest things that I wanted to make sure that I did for my reign. Every time that I ever have a title, I want to make sure that I do something with it.”

This year’s Miss California Teen USA pageant will take place in San Gabriel on January 23 through 26 at The Arcadia Performing Arts Center. If selected as Miss California Teen USA, Zacky will advance to the Miss Teen USA competition.