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Omaha Magazine

Faron Medhi’s Magic

Feb 24, 2023 10:11AM ● By Kim Carpenter
Faron Medhi

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Faron Medhi looked like anyone else sitting in the Old Market’s 13th Street Coffee & Tea Company during her November sit-down with Omaha Magazine. No one much took note of her, focusing instead on their own drinks and conversations. But as soon as Medhi stood up and donned her Miss Teen USA sash for a quick selfie to commemorate the interview, fellow patrons paused and redirected their focus. A flurry of questions peppered the beauty queen, as did requests for photos. 

That’s part of the magic of being a major title holder: people notice; they ask questions; they even feel a bit of pride that someone born and raised in Omaha could take the top prize on a national stage. Most of the magic, though, comes down to Medhi herself, and that’s precisely how she ended up in Reno, Nevada, on October 1, 2022, when the announcer exulted, “Nebraska, you are the winner of Miss Teen USA!”

Medhi was initially incredulous—she shouldn’t have been. She had been working toward this moment since 2014 when her mother, Lynlee Medhi, received a letter touting the National American Miss pageant. She thought nine-year-old Faron would have fun participating. 

“I thought we’d be one and done,” she confessed, but a “big, pink ballgown” and a few runner up categories later, Faron was hooked.

“I fell in love with the glamor,” the teen said. “I stayed to make an impact.”

And what an impact it’s been. When the 18-year-old became Miss Teen USA, she didn’t just snag the coveted crown and sash—she made history. Faron was not only the first Nebraskan to win the title; she also became the first winner of Asian-American descent to do so.

It took a lot of hard work to get there, with Faron becoming a veteran of the pageant circuit along the way. She won her first pageant at 10, and before landing Miss Teen USA, the Millard North graduate also served as Miss Omaha Teen and Miss Nebraska Teen. To rise through the ranks, she’s logged countless hours volunteering at local schools, food banks, and homeless shelters. She also provides hiphop dance instruction for all ages and special needs students at her mother’s Elkhorn dance studio.

“All of that has shaped me into who I am,” Faron reflected. “It taught me to love my community.”
That’s been especially important to Lynlee. 

“We preach humility and service,” she said. “Faron is humble and sweet. It’s what we should want every teen to be.”

Faron prepared for each competition with focused intensity. She read widely on politics and current events before recording herself answering every interview question imaginable. She videoed herself walking to make sure her posture was perfect. 

“I probably have three hours of myself on voice memos and five hours of footage of me walking trying to move my hands naturally,” Faron confided.

Working as a professional model aided in that department. Faron began modeling at age 12, when she walked in her first Omaha Fashion Week. Since then, she’s participated in nearly every season and is now represented by Develop Model Management in Omaha, Select Model Management in Chicago, Wilhelmina Denver, and Nomad LA. Since signing, she’s appeared in print ads for companies like Borsheim’s and Oriental Trading Company, which helped her learn how present herself. 

“There’s a lot of acting involved in modeling,” Faron shared.

Her parents even hired a pageant coach to help prepare for competitions, which proved critical.
“My coach broke me out of my shell and said, ‘You need to compete in Miss Teen USA. You’re made for it,’” Faron recounted. “I set my mind toward that goal. I’ve gotten to know myself inside and out, and I’ve learned who I am and what my core values are.”

Not surprisingly, the teen focused her pageant platform on “self confidence, self worth, and self love and respect.”

“I see a need, especially with social media,” she said. “My life isn’t perfect. Everything is curated online. This needs to be talked about more.”

Faron talked about it by self publishing “I Am ABCs,” an affirmation book geared toward elementary school children. (“I am amazing! I am brave! I am creative!”) Influenced by the book “I Like Myself!,” which she memorized as a child, Faron wrote her own version and then volunteered to read the book to Kindergarten and first grade students. 

Faron related that when seeing her Miss Nebraska sash and crown, students often asked, “Are you a Barbie? Do you live in a castle?” 

“The kids get so excited, it’s the sweetest thing,” she said. “If I just affect one child, that’s enough.”

As the first Miss Teen USA with Indian heritage, she recognizes that she is a role model for younger girls from the BIPOC community.  

“It really is special,” she said.

Also special is what the win meant to her father, Tom, who is originally from India. Her win went viral among billions of people in India, with family members beaming with pride over their relative’s newfound fame. According to Lynlee, he was beyond chuffed and exulted: “I’m a celebrity now!”

“The Indian culture has been so supportive,” Faron said. “I am so proud to represent the diversity in the US. Being the first is so special. I’m bringing a different level of representation to the pageant.”

As she undertakes her Miss Teen USA duties, Faron aims for balance—her reign as a beauty queen grounded by her role as full-time student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, where she’s on a pre-med path with hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

“I have a lot on my plate, and I’m always on the go, but I’m living in the present and making the most of my year,” she affirmed.

Still, she’s reveling in her history-making triumph. 

“I was beyond excited. It was such an amazing moment,” she beamed. “I had worked so hard for it and put in so much effort, and it was so special for me to wear Nebraska across my chest. I hope I’m representing the state well.” 

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.


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