Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 | midnight
It may have been her first pageant ever, but Mya Lake Reyes looked like a natural on stage.
The Summerlin resident was crowned Ms. Senior Nevada 2008 before a packed house in the Suncoast Showroom on Aug. 27, edging out 16 other contestants in the 23rd annual event.
The contest was open to all women in Nevada who have reached the age of 60, or "the age of elegance," said Charlie Christy, executive director and president of Ms. Senior Nevada. The contestants in this year's pageant were all between the ages of 60 and 70.
The pageant was divided into four categories — a private interview, a talent portion, the evening gown presentation and the philosophy of life.
The private interview took place the day before the pageant. Each contestant answered a series of questions before a panel of five judges that involved everything from taxes to senior health care.
The talent portion was each contestant's opportunity to showcase their singing, dancing or musical abilities.
Finally, the evening gown presentation and philosophy of life wrapped up the pageant, with each participant getting 35 seconds to describe how they live their life on a day-to-day basis.
In preparation for her talent segment, Lake Reyes began an exercise program and also stepped into uncharted vocal territory — learning how to sing a song in its entirety.
"I had a vocal coach help me out a few days before the pageant," Lake Reyes said. "I decided to step out of the box for my performance."
When it was her turn to take the stage, Lake Reyes transformed into the legendary singer Josephine Baker — complete with an elaborate white gown and a flowing headdress. She sang Baker's most famous tune, "J'ai Deux Amours," or "I Have Two Loves."
"I was a little bit nervous, but my family and friends are here," Lake Reyes said. "I just focused on where they were sitting. That alleviated my nerves."
Barbara Eubanks of Sun City MacDonald Ranch was the fourth runner up, Correan Baker of Las Vegas was the third runner up, Pamela Ingle of Reno was the second runner up and Lynnette Schlager of Nye County was the first runner up.
Minutes before the start of the pageant, contestant Cookie Becker of Sun City Summerlin wasn't suffering from any jitters. The retired teacher competed in last year's contest and won the talent portion of that pageant.
She got on stage and sang the Depression-era classic "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" which she felt was fitting given the current state of the economy.
"I learned three major principles that are getting me through life," Becker said. "First, you usually get back what you give. The second is forgiveness and the third is humor. Try to find something to laugh at despite your troubles."
Ann Ruth Felix of Summerlin couldn't help but feel a little nervous just before the pageant — like Lake Reyes, it was her first pageant ever.
"I saw the show last year and it inspired me to join," Ruth Felix said. "I said to myself 'hey, I can do that.'"
By day, Ruth Felix works as a medical insurance specialist. But for these few moments on stage, she energized the crowd with a dance routine that combined "old school" jazz and hip-hop.
"Life is like a dance," Ruth Felix said to the crowd. "Sometimes you take steps forward and backward. If you should slip, trip or fall, get up and keep on stepping."
Lake Reyes — who has lived in Las Vegas for nearly four decades — works as the director of diversity marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
She is also the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Society, or YES, which empowers at-risk youth with business and communication skills.
But her schedule is about to get busier — Lake Reyes will represent the state at the Ms. Senior America Pageant Oct. 19 to Oct. 25 at Harrah's Resort Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
She will also travel across Nevada visiting senior centers, hospitals and assisted living facilities.
Jeff O’Brien is a reporter for the Home News. He can be reached at 990-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.