Kaitlyn Sokolich is what you’d expect of a self-driven teenager in this day and age: Impressive. Planning college at 15 with an active theater troupe membership in school and having filmed a movie over the last year with her friends, she’s accomplished more in some small amount of time than some of us do in lifetimes.
Oh, and she’s a Miss Teen USA Contestant.
Sokolich earned a spot in the national Miss Teen USA contest in December by virtue of a state competition in April, one she decided to enter only a few months ahead of time.
“There are only so many opportunities for aspiring screenwriting and directing coming out of high school, so I figured this could open a lot of doors for me,” Sokolich said, sitting in her Naples home. Joined by her parents, Tara and John, she talked about the competition in broad strokes. “There were about 120 girls of different ages, they break the competition up in to age groups, but there was a lot of waiting.”
She laughed a little and paused.
“And right before it was my turn I walked in to a door, which was horrifying at the time, but now I guess it’s kind of funny.”
Only two contestants in each age group from April’s state contest go to the national competition in Orlando. She also learned something about being herself.
“They asked me who my favorite musician was and I just kind of blurted out Selena Gomez not even knowing more than maybe a song of hers?” Sokolich admitted her favorite band is actually Bring Me The Horizon. “I guess I didn’t want to throw out some obscure rock or old grunge band and be looked at weirdly by the judges.”
She backs up claims of anxiety, nervous as a teenager would be in an interview, but she says she’s strangely at home performing. A huge Shakespeare fan, her favorite work is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s incredibly active in theater in school, only missing out on the fourth of four roles in plays this semester alone.
“I like being on stage, it feels safe and wondrous at times.”
But the pageant stage is a different animal. Speaking of animals, her favorite is the iguana – an answer arrived at for a question to help her be at ease, ease not always found when the lights are on and the judges scrutinize every word and action.
“I was only really nervous when I had to answer questions on the fly or wasn’t prepared for something. It’s different when I’m in control,” Sokolich said.
Having spent several months writing, directing and filming the horror movie with her friends, she learned a lot about processes, having sent it, somewhat blindly, to the Naples Film Festival which was doing a seasonal run on documentaries at the time. That one didn’t get in, but Sokolich said she’s working on filming another one as soon as the pageantry is over in December.
“Well, if it’s over,” she adds. “If I make it further I guess that’s first.”
She has a younger brother and an older sister, when asked who she thought the troublemaker out of them was, her parents both coughed loudly and pointed at her.
“I do so well in school! I don’t make that many problems for you guys,” Sokolich laughed, before parents Tara and John caved and admitted they’re all good kids.
To help get her to Orlando, she’s sought out the assistance of a handful of local businesses: and rattles some off right away, Altavilla Pizza and Deli, Extreme Tan of Naples and Trinity Salon and Spa, as well as a dozen more.
She’s excited to compete in December, the contest runs from Dec. 13-19, not just for the challenge and exposure, but what a win could mean. There are $40,000 in cash prizes and scholarships for winners up for grabs.
“I’d love to be able to use it to cover myself for a good school,” Sokolich said about what she’d do with the prizes. “But I do have to buckle down on school before then too, both before and after. If my grades fall much I’d hate it.”
School comes first and foremost for Sokolich, a junior at Palmetto Ridge, taking advanced courses as often as possible, but admitting to being ‘a little bored’ sometimes.
“I just feel like I could be doing more, you know? Challenging myself is the hardest part.”
She has several colleges planned out, a few in Florida and more in New York. Straight A’s and Honor Rolls for as long as her parents can remember, she’s dedicated to her education first and foremost.
“I don’t know what I’d want to do if writing or directing or acting doesn’t pan out. Maybe like, a forensic pathologist? Like on TV?
Wait, what? How does one go from the arts to forensics?
“I can just be super nosy, I feel like I’d be good at finding clues,” Sokolich said.
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