Audrey Hepburn once said, "Elegance is the only beauty that never fades."
When you first meet Miss Kern County United States 2020, Tiffany Rea, that's the first word that comes to mind: elegant.
In the 14 years she has participated in pageantry, Rea has captured more crowns, titles and sashes than she can instantly recall.
Rea, 23, was born in Lewiston, Idaho, and moved to Tehachapi when she a young girl. She won her first title, Junior Miss East Kern County, California City in 2009, after winning first runner up the previous year.
She went on to compete in numerous pageants, and in 2014, she captured the crown as Miss Tehachapi.
Rea said she has learned a lot about herself along the way... lessons she holds close to her heart.
"I think the biggest thing that I learned about myself is that I really do have a passion to serve. That is my mission: to help others," said Rea.
To date, Rea has performed close to 1,300 hours of community service with various projects. Since she couldn't decide on a platform, she created her own: Promoting Volunteerism through Mentorship.
"At first, I had a problem picking a platform because I want to do everything. I want to work with all these different organizations, but at the root of it, I really do enjoy working with children and people in need," Rea said.
The beauty queen has also formed her own service group she calls Caring Crowns, designed to help girls with medical disabilities and handicaps get involved in pageantry.
"I wanted them to use their differences to show others that pageantry is all inclusive, and show that they can make a difference," she said.
No one is more proud of Rea than her own family.
"It is an honor to be Tiffany's father. Pageants have made her the woman she is today, and I am truly blessed," said Ted Rea.
Her mother, Debbie Rea, has also had the opportunity to guide her daughter in fulfilling her pageantry dreams.
"Having a daughter that is a pageant queen is a very rewarding experience. I have the privilege of watching Tiffany learn, grow and succeed in a very competitive world, and I am amazed at how she remains kind and humble," said Debbie.
Tiffany said she has four older brothers who serve as role models.
"Growing up, I thought it was inspiring how Tiffany started doing pageants and how she really worked hard at them. Being the oldest of five, this was a new experience, and I loved seeing how confident they made her... she pours her heart and soul into them and that takes incredible dedication and courage. They've helped forge her life in so many beneficial ways, I can't be more proud of her and I brag about what an amazing woman she is often," said Ted Rea Jr.
Ted Junior went on to say that he has since become a vocal advocate of the pageants that his sister has been involved with, and encourages his friends to let their children give them a try.
Said Ted Rea Jr., "They've been foundational to Tiffany's life and maturity, and I would recommend them to anyone."
So what is it like having a pageant queen as a sister?
"It has been inspirational to see the volunteer and outreach work that Tiffany provides for her community. Also, it makes me proud that my daughters have an amazing role model to look up to. They absolutely adore their Aunt Tiffy. Through pageants, Tiffany has developed the kind of confidence and professionalism that will allow her to accomplish great things throughout her life," said Matthew Rea.
Brother Wesley Rea echoed his brothers' sentiments.
"Being the brother of a pageant girl has certainly been an eye-opening experience. Seeing her steadfast dedication to community service and helping those in need has helped me see how much she has grown from that 4-year-old with curly red hair taking up dance for the first time. I hope to continue to support her to achieve her humanitarian dreams," said Wesley.
Zachary Rea said that having a pageant queen for a sister is a "truly unique and interesting experience."
"You learn things you never thought you would, you see more makeup and products than you thought existed, and you get to see them grow as a person with each pageant they enter. It is an inspiring experience and one that I'm happy my sister can do and be proud of," said Zachary.
Tiffany works part-time as an office assistant for the city of Tehachapi. She recently graduated with two associates degrees, and is currently working towards a bachelor's degree in criminal justice/crime scene investigation with a minor in psychology through Liberty University online. Some day she hopes to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In her spare time — what spare time, right? — Tiffany said she likes to spend time with her boyfriend, Joshua Eppler.
"It's an amazing opportunity to be in a relationship with a pageant queen. It's very rewarding to see the amazing things that come out of the pageants and to see Tiffany's face when good things happen, but it can also be very stressful. Anything that she is going through, I'm going through it right there with her. I just try to be by her side and be as supportive and helpful as I can be. I am very proud of Tiffany for everything she has done in her life and will continue to do and achieve," said Eppler.
She will compete next for Miss California United States come June 21. The winner of this pageant will go on to compete in the Miss United States pageant.
Finally, as with all crown holders before her, Tehachapi News asked Tiffany, "What is beauty?"
"Beauty is, ultimately, knowing yourself. I have a favorite quote: 'Knowing yourself is like eternal homework.' It is not a single 'aha' moment. It is an extensive process through our lifetime," she said.