Center stage: Junior beauty queen claims national title, credits her faith

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Photo Courtesy of Danielle Walls

Standing in shock, junior Danielle Walls is crowned with the title of Teen Miss Princess of America at the Princess of America national beauty pageant in November 2020. This was only Walls’ second time competing in a beauty pageant. “I still think about it every single day,” Walls said. “I get butterflies just talking about it because it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

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She stood center stage. Her competitor waited next to her. The crowd went silent to hear the judges’ final decision. Then, the call resonated through the speakers. Junior Danielle Walls had just taken home the national title of Teen Miss Princess of America.

After starting her beauty pageant journey in late 2019, Walls had only competed in one other pageant before winning a national title as a part of the Princess of America, or POA, national beauty pageant system. Now, as she prepares to hand down her title in July, she’s reflecting on what got her involved into the pageant industry, along with what has kept her going with it.

Video Courtesy of Princess of America Pageant

“I still think about it every single day,” Walls said. “I get butterflies just talking about it because it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Part of what began Walls’ spark for the pageant industry occurred when she was declined an acting role, where she said she wound up looking to try something new.

“I had actually gotten a bad cast list for a show that I auditioned for, and I didn’t get the part I wanted for the show, and it kind of put me in a slump,” Walls said. “I was really questioning what I should be doing, and if this is what I really wanted to continue doing with my life because, at the time, I wanted to be an actress full-time.”

But after some encouragement from friend and 2020 graduate Lauren Womack, who is also involved in the pageant industry, Walls said she “fell in love” with the idea of competing in beauty pageants.

While preparing for her nationals pageant in late November of 2020 in Branson, Missouri, junior Danielle Walls stands with her crown. Walls, who is preparing to compete for Miss Texas Teen USA in September, said she recently bought her dream dress. “My favorite dress that I’ve worn right at the moment is probably the dress I won nationals in,” Walls said. “However, my new dress is probably my dream one. It’s a hot pink gown from Giovanni, and it’s coming in the mail soon, so I’m super excited to show that one off.” (Photo Courtesy of Danielle Walls)

“It was only 24 hours in, and we were already looking up all these dress people, and sponsors and headshot people,” Walls said. “It happened so fast. In a few weeks we were already preparing for me to compete.”

With her first upcoming beauty pageant being a state competition and only three months away from when she first began pageantry, Walls said it was a “quick turn-around” for her and her family.

“The state pageant was in February of 2020, so it was right after we started,” Walls said. “It was so natural though. Everyone always says, ‘Wow, it looks like you’ve been doing this for years,’ and I do think I should’ve been doing this since I was little. I was just like, ‘Why haven’t I been doing this for my whole life?’ It’s that fun.'”

After having little time to prepare, Walls ended up winning the state pageant, which set her on the road to nationals.

“It was my very first pageant ever,” Walls said. “So the fact that I ended up winning was super cool.”

Only a few weeks after she was crowned, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the pageant season was postponed.

Danielle is the sweetest and most kindest person, and I feel blessed to know her. Her smile warms up the room and just talking to her can make your day better. She deserves every bit of praise she gets.”

— Junior Ava Oien

“Nationals was supposed to be in July of 2020, in Branson, Missouri, but it was pushed back to November because of the pandemic,” Walls said. “I had to wait nine months, which actually worked to my benefit, because I got nine months of prep instead of three or four, so it was actually a really good thing that it was moved.”

Walls competed in late November of 2020 at nationals for the title Teen Miss Princess of America, which she ended up claiming.

“It was one of the best weeks of my life,” she said. “It taught me so much, and it was so cool to be a part of, and me ending up winning nationals just made it even better, and now I have my title for a year.”

As she prepares to hand down her national title, Walls is already prepping for her next pageant, which will occur over Labor Day weekend in September of 2021.

Danielle is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She is so genuine and is such an inspiration for me. Her joy spreads to others, and her faith with the Lord is so encouraging, and I am so grateful to be friends with her.”

— Junior Clara Chen

“I’m competing next for Miss Texas Teen USA, representing Prosper, and I’m so excited,” Walls said. “It’s the biggest teen pageant in the entire state and it feeds into Miss Teen USA, which is the biggest pageant in the entire world for teens. We got the confirmation for me to compete on my birthday this past February, and it’s just been excitement from there. I hope to make a good placement there, maybe top 15 or top 25, but those are just some short-term goals. I’ll really just be happy to be there.”

As she looks ahead to beauty pageants such as Miss Universe, Walls said she is “hopeful” for her future career in the pageant industry.

“It’s a lot of work, but there’s also a lot of down time, so I think I’ll have the time in the future to compete in beauty pageants, because I really do want to continue with them,” Walls said. “You have to be at least 18 to compete for Miss Universe, and I don’t know how far I’ll get, but pageantry is something I for sure want to keep going with.”

Outside of her pageant preparations, Walls hangs out with a group of friends over Easter weekend. Junior and friend of Walls, Ava Oien, said Walls is the “sweetest and most kindest” person she knows. “I feel blessed to know her,” Oien said. “Her smile warms up the room and just talking to her can make your day better. She deserves every bit of praise she gets.” (Photo Courtesy of Danielle Walls)

As she currently holds her two titles, Walls has made friends with other title winners as well, including girls from all across the country who have competed with her.

“It’s so cool because with nationals and the media and everything, I basically make a friend or a few friends from every state,” Walls said. “I have girls that I know from pretty much everywhere, which is one of my favorite parts about it, because now I’m just connected with everyone, and I love everyone.”

Walls said she hopes to connect with more people across the world, with her goal to start an organization she calls “Reaching the Nations.”

“One of my goals would definitely be me going and trying to start this organization,” Walls said. “‘Reaching the Nations’ would basically just be us sending big boxes of food and resources over to foreign countries and those who need it.”

Though she’s looking to the future, Walls is also taking things day by day, as she said she looks to her faith as the reason why she’s accomplished so much.

“If you ask anyone in the industry, everyone has what they call, ‘What’s your why?’ like why you compete, why are you doing this, and strictly, the reason why I do this, is to yeah, gain confidence, and yeah, have fun and wear pretty dresses and meet new people and stuff, but I truly do it for the purpose of spreading the Gospel,” Walls said. “I do it to just try and be a light in the world and a light for Jesus, and I just tell myself every time I’m walking into a competition or just anywhere, with my sash and crown on, I just say, ‘Lord, I pray that they see you in me, and that they look at me and see you.’ I truly, 1 million percent, could not have won nationals without God by my side. It was all credited to Him, all the glory is to Him, none to me. He totally made that outcome possible. Because of Him by my side, I truly do love competing for that reason. I’ve found my happy place.”