A local teen is hoping to be an inspiration for others. Autumn Simpson, 15, of Bonham, hopes that her participation in the National American Miss Junior Teen Texas Pageant will inspire other girls to go for their dreams.


The pageant will be held July 16-17 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.


“I was speaking to one of the pageant overseers and they said that when the younger girls see the girls in the pageant, they get inspiration from them,” Autumn said. “I want to set a good example for those that have really big dreams.”


Autumn said that there are a lot of ways that girls feel like they are being put down and times when they are told that they cannot pursue their dreams.


“I want to change that,” she said. “I want girls to grow up actually knowing that they are able to succeed in their dreams. I want them to be able to say, ‘Hey, I did it when they told me I couldn’t. I proved them wrong.’”


Autumn was invited to participate in the pageant after she received a letter in the mail about an open call photo shoot. Autumn’s mom Krista Simpson said five of the girls from the photo shoot were asked to come back and participate in a training session.


“They taught her how to walk in heels and speak into a microphone,” Krista Simpson said.


In next month’s pageant, Autumn will compete in the formal wear modeling, personal introduction, interview and community service project portions of the competition in additional to the smaller tests: top model, talent, photogenic, spokesmodel, casual wear modeling and actress. Autumn said that singing will be her talent.


“I did not think she would do it because she is really shy,” Krista Simpson said. “She is a lot like me when I was her age. She is self-conscious. That is another reason she wanted to do it is because she wanted to show herself that she can do it and that she is pretty enough to do it.”


Autumn most looks forward to competing in the spokesmodel part of the pageant.


“During the spokesmodel portion of the competition, you are given a topic and then you have to write a speech,” she said. “One of the options was about changing the world. My inspiration is Michael Jackson and a lot of his songs are about changing the world. If I get that topic, I would talk about how I look up to him and how I would like to change the world as well. I hope my speech inspires others to do things to change the world.”


The prize for the competition winner will be $1,000, a crown, banner, trophy, roses, a trip to Hollywood, a VIP day at Disneyland in California, travel opportunities and the chance to take part in the national competition in California. Autumn also hopes that the pageant helps her work through her shyness.


“I want to set a good example for little kids, and I want people to know that I am kind-hearted,” she said. “The pageant is a good way for an individual to get themself out there. When it comes to talents like singing, you go to the pageant and sing and then people learn about you. Be yourself. That is the only thing that matters.”