She’s a Malibu High School junior who plays soccer as a midfielder and goalie. She loves performing in musical theater (with 18 productions to her credit) and she’s an artist who draws and paints. In January, this talented Malibu teenager represented her hometown in the Miss California Teen USA pageant.
Two summers ago, 16-year-old Elle Baker received a pageant invitation in the mail.
“I had never thought about stepping into this giant world of pageantry,” Baker said in a phone interview with The Malibu Times. “It never crossed my mind. I’ve been focused on other things.” But, she told herself, “Sure. Take a shot.” She did well in her first pageant, placing second runner-up.
Two weeks ago, the MHS junior competed as a delegate from Malibu to the Miss California Teen USA pageant held in Arcadia. The winner will go on to compete in Miss Teen USA.
Baker was interviewed during the competition by a panel of judges.
“You’re judged on how eloquently you’ve spoken,” she explained. The local teen’s platform was her passion for a club she started at MHS called Period Power. Baker recently attended an American Civil Liberties Union California Advocacy event.
“It was the best experience of my life. I met keynote speakers, learned about advocacy, civil rights and social issues,” she explained. “My campaign is to raise awareness and support for menstrual equity because it’s written in the state law that all Title I schools are required to provide free menstrual products in their bathrooms and a lot of schools don’t do that. They get funding from the state to provide those products and some don’t. Even though my school isn’t a Title I or underserved school, I’m trying to implement that same idea of free menstrual equity because we deserve to menstruate with equity and we are unable to do so when we have to hide products or feel uncomfortable when somebody teases. It’s something natural that girls go through. That’s something that’s really important to me,” she said.
As part of Baker’s community service, she’s volunteered a whopping 200-plus hours at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue helping religious and Hebrew school students. “It gives me such pleasure to see the kids grow,” she said. She’s also a part of the National Charity League of Los Angeles and has served at Christmas fundraisers for low-income families.
“I enjoy giving back to the community,” the teen said.
And her hard work has not gone unnoticed.
“Elle is very mature and I’ve seen how much she cares for every person in need,” Marcelo Gindlin, cantor at MCS, said. “She embodies kindness, compassion and empathy. It’s so inspiring to see a young woman really committed to social action, to ethics and morals. So unusual in young ladies her age. She was like this since she was a young girl. I feel our future is in good hands”
Baker earned the title of Miss Malibu Teen USA through an application process. She was crowned last June, although she was unable to attend the ceremony for area winners in Beverly Hills.
“This has been a six-month, extraordinary journey for me,” Baker said, speaking from her hotel in San Gabriel, where she was one of 48 delegates. “I recently got a coach. She’s given me so many tips on [how to] interview, on how to walk properly, on how to strut the runway and everything I never knew I might need. This has given me so many opportunities to meet new people, to express myself in front of an audience and gain confidence in public speaking. The whole experience has been really exciting.
“I’m really grateful for everything it’s given me,” she added.
The four-day competition started with the delegates attending a dinner with a motivational speaker that Baker said she was excited about. Friday started the judged events, including interviews, activewear and formal wear.
“The whole point is to see how well you present yourself, walk on stage and carry yourself—how poised you are,” Baker said. “The activewear portion is to show how confident you are in your own skin.” The finale took place Sunday, with the winning entrant to receive $100,000 in scholarship money, plus sponsorships.
Baker texted on Sunday that, although she didn’t place in the top 15 of the pageant, she did win best teen in formal wear and wrote, “The other girls were so supportive and empowering. I loved every minute of it.”