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Huddled in their daughter’s bright pink bedroom, Matt Stasel and Jessica Grant discuss their 19-month-old and her collection of tiaras, trophies, ribbons, sashes and glamour photos.
In the meantime, their living room is a buzz of activity as a broadcast team arranges lights and cameras for an interview.
Kendyl Stasel’s success on the pageant circuit attracted the attention of “Toddlers & Tiaras,” the cable program that’s been known to spotlight and sometimes embarrass parents of tiny runway stars. A film crew spent all day Thursday and Friday morning recording at the family’s home in Leitchfield.
While lights were being adjusted in the living room for her final interview, Jessica Grant acknowledged that the show sometimes presents pageant parents in less than favorable terms.
“We’re just trying to stay positive so they won’t have anything to twist,” she said.
Kendyl’s first stage appearance was a baby contest held in conjunction with Leitchfield’s Hometown Christmas celebration.
“She started doing good and winning,” her mother said.
“We knew how pretty she was,” her father recalls. “We had to do something.”
The family has lost count of her pageant performances. It’s somewhere between 25 and 30.
During one of those events, the family was approached by a representative of “Toddlers & Tiaras” and the conversations led to a program that’s expected to air sometime this fall on TLC.
The pageant outings make demands on the entire family including time, patience, makeup, clothing “and a little money to throw away,” said Matt Stasel, who works for a family business in Bonnieville and operates a tattoo parlor from his home.
He met Jessica while both were attending Western Kentucky University and the couple has been together three years. She works as a waitress at Farmers Feed Mill and is studying health care management at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
During the TV crew’s visit last week, the family’s white frame, rental house was transformed. Heavy shades were placed on the outside of windows so sunlight would not interfere with the settings. A decorative aquarium and other noisy devices had to be disabled. Stasel even pulled the batteries from a clock so the ticking would not interfere with microphones.
The guests showed up in a minivan with a rental truck carrying their array of lights, cords, microphones and cameras.
As quickly as the final interview wrapped, the crew and the family both started packing to leave.
The five-member production team headed home and the family was headed to Lexington for another weekend pageant appearance in which Kendyl took third in the novice supreme category.
“Which is unheard of for her age,” her mother said in a text message.
Ben Sheroan can be reached at (270) 505-1764.