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Miss West Virginia takes disappointment in stride

January 31, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Tiffany Lawrence is not about to cry the blues for not winning the 2007 Miss America Pageant Monday night is Las Vegas.

In fact, Lawrence was recalling Tuesday how, in the moments following the announcement of the top 10 contestants, she was coaxing the rest of the contestants to shake off the bad news and keep going.

When the top 10 contestants were announced, the rest of the women, including Lawrence, were directed backstage to change their outfits, Lawrence said.

Some were shedding tears over the news, but not Lawrence.

She said she was checking her lip gloss.

A promoter of strong self-esteem, Lawrence said she urged the women backstage not to let defeat get them down.

"I said, 'Look, we've got more airtime here,'" Lawrence said Tuesday in a telephone interview before leaving Las Vegas. "I said, 'If this is the worst thing in our lives, something is pretty wrong.'"

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Lawrence said after winning the Miss West Virginia pageant in Morgantown, W.Va., that pageants are not something that weigh heavily on her mind, unlike other women.

Lawrence also did not hold back about how she felt about the Miss America Pageant.

Lawrence said she was disappointed that the pageant seems to be breaking from its traditional style and evolving into a reality show.

Lawrence said there was something "Survivor-ish" about the event, like when the girls were told they were nearing the end of their "journey."

"We thought that was silly," said the native of Shepherdstown, W.Va., although she could understand that it probably was done to boost ratings.

Lauren Nelson, an aspiring Broadway star, was crowned Miss America during the pageant, the second year in a row that a Miss Oklahoma has won the crown.

Although Lawrence did not make the top 10 contestants, her family and friends were glad one of her roommates, Miss Pennsylvania Emily Wills, was able to make it into the top group. Wills was Lawrence's roommate in a pageant-related event in September in Los Angeles.

Lawrence took issue with some aspects of the pageant, but said she loved the experience.

Lawrence said she made some good friends with other contestants and felt they probably would be lifelong relationships.

"I'm already invited to some of their weddings, so that was neat," the Jefferson High School and Shepherd University graduate said.

Lawrence received loads of gifts and well wishes from people such as students she has met. Noting Lawrence's interest in politics, the governor of Nevada gave Lawrence a book, said Lawrence's mother, Cheryl Lawrence.

"I've never seen so much stuff," Cheryl Lawrence said Tuesday afternoon as the Lawrence family began packing belongings for the trip home.

Tiffany Lawrence said she was happy with her talent portion of the pageant, in which she sang "Black Velvet."

Lawrence said she began singing in a choir when she was 2, but said some of the contestants have put some serious study into singing and have special coaches.

"I was pleased I was able to hold my own with a room of professionals," Lawrence said. Lawrence competed in the talent category in a preliminary event Friday.

While Lawrence is Miss West Virginia, she is not allowed to go to work or school for a year, and sometimes has up to six engagements a day.

Lawrence travels all over the state, relying on her GPS-led vehicle to help her get to destinations.

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