Teen crowns moment with persistence

Pageant: After three years of competing, a Harford student is named Miss Maryland Teen USA.

December 14, 2003|By Amanda Angel | Amanda Angel,SUN STAFF

Amanda Williams first thought about entering the Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant as a freshman in high school. Her mother, Melissa Williams, remembers looking at the stack of entry forms in the kitchen of the family's Jarrettsville home.

"I talked her out of it, I don't know if I had these stereotypes or what," Melissa Williams said.

The next year, Amanda presented the forms to her mother but saw a different outcome.

"When she told me that she wanted to use it as a steppingstone for her career, we said, `Sure you can enter,'" her mother said.

That entry into the 2002 Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant began a three-year run for Williams, 18, who was third runner-up in 2002, first runner-up in last year's pageant and was crowned 2004 Miss Maryland Teen USA last weekend in Cambridge.

"In the last three years it has been a goal for her so she has stayed on the straight and narrow," Melissa Williams said.

The North Harford High School senior is looking forward to the 2 1/2 -week Miss Teen USA pageant in Palm Springs, Calif., in August, not to mention the throng of stylists who will help to prepare her for the televised pageant.

Williams first entered the Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant after her beautician, Meg Gunning, the 2001 Miss Maryland, suggested she try it. Williams had been dancing since she was 3 years old, making her way into the Kirov Academy of Ballet, but an ankle injury in her sophomore year of high school stopped her.

With her extra time, she began modeling and auditioning for acting roles -- she appeared in an episode of the soap opera Guiding Light -- and eventually entered in the pageant.

Williams called the 2002 contest -- her first beauty pageant -- a learning experience. This year, she took the competition more seriously, enrolling in a Dale Carnegie training course for public speaking. Her agent, Michael Evans, owner of MPE Model Management, said that her work paid off.

"There were like 129 girls in the pageant and when she came up, you could tell that she was more focused than any other girl up there," he said.

Williams' focus doesn't extend only to the pageant. She also hopes that her victory and the national exposure during the Miss Teen USA competition will help her modeling and acting career. "I'm going to take what steps I think are right for me. I want to go out there and do what I can with this title," she said.

She says that she wants to use her position to promote a healthful lifestyle for teens. She is also a proponent of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program in Harford County. While Williams' reign as Miss Maryland Teen USA ends next December, she intends to be in Manhattan in the fall. Win or lose, Williams plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she wants to pursue a fashion merchandising degree. She said she dreams of designing her own fashion line.

"I've kind of exhausted the opportunities in Maryland, I need to be in New York," she said.

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