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Local beauty queen shows her 'True Life' Documentary tells inspirational stories of stutterers

As the reigning Miss Western New York, Jessica Filipski knows all about tough competition. And she'll have it again at 2 p.m. Sunday when her appearance on an MTV documentary competes with the Bills game against Cincinnati televised by Channel 4.

The Sweet Home High School graduate and Buffalo State College junior is one of three young people featured in the award-winning "True Life" series in an episode, "True Life: I Stutter."

A Bills fan, she said her friends' loyalties will be tested because the show airs opposite the Bills game.

"Everybody keeps telling me that," said Filipski. "I'm trying to have a party at my house and half my friends are telling me, 'We already are going to a Bills game.' "

She said she has a good group coming to the party, but it would have been larger if the Bills weren't playing. "It is hard to compete with the Bills because everybody in this area is so supportive of them. My friends sometimes forget I need support, too."

When her father told her that he'd TiVo "it," Filipski said she had to ask if "it" referred to the show or the game. He answered the game. "I'm like, 'thanks Dad,' " she said.

Of course, MTV will repeat the episode during the week. So if you can't miss the Bills, you should find a way to record "I Stutter."

The episode featuring Filipski is the second of five "True Life" episodes that begin at 1 p.m. The 21-year-old beauty contestant is part of an inspirational story in which she attempts to conquer her stuttering or at least comes to terms with it in a positive way as part of who she is.

The documentary also tells the stories of two others who have stuttering problems that impair their ability to do ordinary things like order pizza and be comfortable in their own skin.

Filipski said she was approached for the show through her membership in the National Stuttering Association.

"Since I was already in pageants, I kind of got over the fact of telling everyone I stutter," said Filipski. "So I wanted to show everyone that it's OK and you can handle anything. And that my personal goal was to do pageants and that's what I still chose to do even though I have this problem."

That means she's involved in two projects that would strike fear in many people afraid of public speaking - beauty pageants and a TV show that follows her journey. Asked which was harder to do, Filipski said: "Well . . . being in pageants you're being judged. However, being on national television will mean all of America will have the opportunity to judge me. But hopefully they won't."

The program delivers some valuable lessons about acceptance from relatives and friends. More importantly, it gives a lesson in the personal acceptance anyone with the problem has dealing with it.

The program includes a lump-in-your-throat moment in the New York State pageant in which Filipski declared that she stutters, it's OK and people used to be afraid to show who they were.

"I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to share my experiences with everyone," she said. What does she hope viewers get from the show?

"I hope the audience [will see] a person who stutters is just like everyone else. And if you are patient enough with them, they will be able to talk to you just like you're able to talk to anyone else."


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