Louisville native, Nicole Scherzinger: from state fair talent competition runner-up to Dancing With the Stars [TV]

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Nicole Scherzinger is primed and ready to cha-cha her way to win the finale of "Dancing With the Stars." Tonight thousands of us Louisvillians will tune into ABC to cheer on our hometown girl. Because long before Nicole tangoed on "Dancing With the Stars" and shook her booty with the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole was just another talented kid with stars in her eyes growing up here in Louisville. And I knew her while we were students at Youth Performing Arts School.   

When I tell people that I was friendly with Nicole Scherzinger in high school, their question is always the same: "What was she like?"  No doubt they anticipate that I will bemoan some dramatic story about how awful she was. But in all honesty, Nicole was really nice. She treated people kindly, worked hard, and was humble about her successes. 
 
One of Nicole's first "breaks" came in 1996 with her performance in the Coca-Cola Talent Competition at the Kentucky State Fair. That summer every single one of us musical theater geeks at YPAS was abuzz with excitement that one of our own was in the spotlight. Nicole's rendition of "I'd Give My Life For You" from Miss Saigon was breathtaking. I remember how surprised everyone was when she was only the runner-up.
 
Tonight Nicole is the odds-on and fan favorite to win the dancing competition against Olympic ice skater, Evan Lysacek and ESPN sportscaster, Erin Andrews.
 
And while I don't normally watch the somewhat cheesy and over-the-top "Dancing With the Stars," I'll be tuning in tonight to cheer on Nicole. Because everyone loves a story about a sweet and humble hometown girl who works hard to follow her dreams. 
 
Catch the "Dancing With the Stars" finale tonight on ABC at 9 pm.
 
Photo courtesy of ABC