Ashley Brooks

Ashley Brooks

Bullying victim seeks beauty-queen crown

South Surrey’s Ashley Brooks taking part in pageant reality show

A South Surrey teen vying for the title of Ms. Vancouver hopes to use the platform to advocate anti-bullying.

Ashley Brooks, 18, has been selected to participate in the Vancouver Television reality show, Ms. and Mr. Vancouver Pageant, which is to chronicle the contestants’ journey to the three-day pageant this fall.

With her new exposure, the Earl Marriott Secondary grad aims to increase awareness on the growing issue of bullying.

After temporarily moving from the Peninsula to Winnipeg – before beginning middle school – Brooks said she soon found herself ostracized from her new friends in Manitoba.

“I made friends with some people from the ‘popular’ group and I adored them, I (idolized) them, thought the world of them. Then a bunch of stuff happened…” she said.

While she admits it can be hard to talk about such a personal subject, she hopes that sharing her story of using the negativity to make herself stronger will inspire others going through similar situations.

“I went through so much with those girls. They put me down so much, and I had nobody. I had so much time to myself, so much time to think, that they actually motivated me to do better and be better and better myself,” she said.

In April, while filming an online commercial for hair extensions, Brooks learned about the pageant from the commercial’s narrator, TV host Malaika Jackson, who is also a producer at Vancouver Television, Brooks explained.

“She messaged me (after the commercial) and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it,” Brooks said.

Once Brooks had read more about the pageant and reviewed the contract with her mother, Brooks signed on the dotted line May 3.

Throughout the show, the contestants will film a variety of commercials for pageant sponsors – including Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Barnes Wheaton GM – all leading up to a three-day pageant Nov. 21-24, which will, include a talent portion.

While Brooks admits she is not a singer or a dancer, she said she hopes to film herself painting one of her original pieces, from start to finish, editing it so it runs in fast-forward and includes music.

Painting has provided Brooks an outlet to express her feelings, her mother, Lin, said, noting that one of her recent pieces features a young girl literally carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Another aspect of the pageant is raising funds for BC Children’s Hospital, which inspired Brooks and her mother to organize a fundraiser for BCCH in their community.

On Sept. 8, the mother-daughter duo will host a cut-a-thon sponsored by L’Anza Healing Haircare, where Lin works. The cut-a-thon will be held at Hair Art Academy, 155585 24 Ave., with partial proceeds benefitting the hospital.

If Brooks wins the title of Ms. Vancouver, she will also win a one-year hosting internship at Vancouver Television, providing a stepping stone to her future career.

“That’s really important because I want to go into broadcast journalism,” she said. “This is opening some doors.”