Young Liane Angus was too busy playing kickball, dodgeball and climbing trees to think too hard about beauty pageants. Her interests did not change much as she outgrew dodgeball and joined GW’s rugby team.
But sometime between the scraped knees and rugby injuries, she attained the poise and intelligence to become a real pageant queen. In December, the 24-year-old GW alumnus was crowned Miss Washington D.C.
“My family and I used to watch Miss America and Miss U.S.A. (pageants) and we loved it,” Angus said. “My sisters would say, `oh, you could be up there, you could do it.’ I’d be like `yeah, OK.’ I never imagined that one day I’d be on the stage competing for Miss U.S.A. It’s kinda overwhelming to think about it and think about where I’ve come from.”
The coronation did not come without hardship. Two days before the pageant, Angus sprained her neck and shoulder in a car accident that left her car totaled. Then, just an hour before the pageant began, Angus’s shoes and accessories were locked in her house.
“I had to put on my game face and I had to get up there and I had to compete,” she said. “Despite everything else, I could do this and it made me realize the strength I had within. It made me stronger. The whole thing makes you realize your inner qualities.”
After the competition’s interview, evening gown and swimsuit segments, five of the 30 contestants remained. The question for all the women was the same, “Is America ready for a woman president?”
“Four of the girls answered women-are-the-mothers-type answers and gave a pretty broad answer,” Angus said. “Basically I gave statistics, so when I hit it off, like point to point to point the crowd was erupting and the judges were smiling and I knew I hit it.”
After winning in every category and the overall Miss Washington D.C. pageant, Angus joins winners from every state in the country to compete for the title of Miss U.S.A. March 2 in Indiana. But the runway to success involves sacrifice, and Angus’s is no different.
A graduate with a degree in exercise science, Angus quit her job at a sports medicine clinic in Virginia and took a lower-paying job in personal training to spend more time preparing for pageants.
“It’s not something that you walk on the stage and win, you’ve gotta work, you’ve gotta work hard,” Angus said. “I mean, I put in a lot of time, a lot of effort doing research on current events. I would spend hours researching hot topics, researching pageant history and also getting to know myself better.”
Ever since Angus’s mother encouraged her to join the Miss Guyana Metropolitan Washington D.C. and Virginia pageant, a competition for young women who share Angus’s Guyana South American descent, it has been a steady climb to the top.
After Angus, then a GW senior, took the crown in her first pageant, spectators of the pageant suggested that she try for Miss U.S.A. She received a third runner-up ribbon in her first try in the Miss D.C. pageant. The next year, Angus walked away as second runner-up, before clinching the title that takes some contestants six or seven years to win.
“A lot of people when they see me up there they don’t tend to think I’m intelligent or they’re shocked when I say I come from GW,” Angus said. “They kind of assume that you’re very superficial and that you don’t have that much intelligence. They’re shocked when you come at them and say, `you know, this is an aspect of my life and I’m an intelligent person. This crown is a symbol of being a woman who is ready to go into the millennium and do what she has to do’.”
As a freshman in Thurston Hall, Angus said her life was uncertain. Now, six years later, she defines herself as a motivated woman ready to make a mark in the new millennium. Angus was recently awarded a three-year scholarship to Parker College of Chiropractice, where she intends to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Until then, she has a crown to win.
But even the self-designed, golden-yellow gown Angus dons in pageant pictures and her sophisticated speech do not hide the little girl that once sat on the other side of the TV screen.
“What girl doesn’t like to dress and feel gorgeous and beautiful,” Angus said. “It’s so funny because I was such a tomboy and here I am pageant queen.”