Lisbon resident Tanya Rose Lane competes for Miss Connecticut USA title
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Lisbon - posted Mon., Dec. 2, 2013
Tanya Rose Lane’s first day on her new job as an assistant archivist at UConn’s Thomas Dodd Research Center proved to be more exciting than she’d expected. After her shift ended, she had to jump in her car and head down I-95 to Stamford, to don an evening gown and walk a runway in the Miss Connecticut USA pageant.
“We just barely got her registered in time,” said Tanya’s mother, Cindy Lane. It was a stretch, but nothing new to Tanya, who juggled last year’s pageant weekend with college exams and the due date of her senior capstone paper.
Lane, who lives in Lisbon, competed for the title of Miss Connecticut USA for the third time this year on Nov. 16-17. The state pageant selects Connecticut’s representative in the Miss USA pageant, with the national winner going on to vie for the title of Miss Universe.
While Lane said that she started receiving pageant applications every year from age 14, she credits her mom with nudging her into the contest.
“My mother is the only reason I’m in it,” she said. “She said, 'You could work on your stage presence and interview skills.’ By the time I was 19, she had asked me five times to do it.” At the 11th hour, literally – minutes before a midnight deadline – Lane snapped a “selfie” and submitted it with her online application. “The next day I heard back,” she said.
Like other contestants, Lane underwent two preliminary interviews to qualify as one of the pageant’s 38 contestants. Once qualified, contestants typically seek sponsorships from family, friends and local businesses to fund their entry fee as well as the very specific wardrobe required for the pageant. The wardrobe includes an evening gown, swimsuit and interview outfit for the three segments of the actual competition.
In addition, Lane said, contestants are expected to have suitable rehearsal clothes, an outfit for orientation and a cocktail dress in a specific color scheme, plus shoes and other accessories. “Just to cross that list off alone is the hardest thing ever,” she said.
But Lane also spent a lot of time preparing mentally and physically for the pageant. She researched the biographies of the pageant judges, with an eye to preparing for possible interview questions. She practiced walking in an evening gown, “which is challenging, because they have trains,” she said. “My mom would videotape me.”
Since the contest features a swimsuit competition, Lane also worked on her physical fitness. She had played volleyball as a student at Griswold High School, but “being in college and being healthy don’t really mix that well.” she admitted. Getting back in shape was challenging, “but now that I’ve done it I feel so much better,” she said.
And just as her mother had said, Lane found that preparing for and participating in the pageant improved her interview skills. She has learned how to respond to “trick questions” and developed greater self-confidence. “No one tells you that if you’re in a pageant it’s good for your resume, but every interviewer I’ve been to see has asked about it,” she said. “It’s an interesting piece of conversation.”
The two-day pageant itself was held at the Stamford Marriott Hotel and Spa. Unlike the Miss America scholarship pageant, contestants are not required to perform in a talent segment. Lane said that entrants in Miss USA events tend to be more oriented to careers in entertainment, media and sports journalism; several former contestants are now on reality TV shows.
“That’s not my number-one goal in life, but I would not turn down [such an] opportunity,” she said. “My mother will tell you that all her daughters are born entertainers.” She and her sisters have been involved in the Windham Theater Guild, both onstage and doing hair and make-up backstage.
Lane’s own career goal is to be a public historian, a plan she said was sparked back when she was in eighth grade by the movie “National Treasure.” Last spring she earned her degree from the University of Connecticut in history, with a minor in German.
Her new job at Dodd Research Center is a dream come true, she said. She’s had the opportunity to connect researchers with the center’s extensive archives and holdings, such as the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, and to explore them herself. “I like people’s stories. That’s why I’m studying social history,” she said.
Desiree Perez of Greenwich was chosen as Miss Connecticut USA 2014, succeeding 2013 winner Erin Brady, who went on to win the Miss USA 2013 pageant. Lane said she isn’t certain she’ll compete again next year; “I feel I gave it my best shot,” she said. Now she’s ready to move on in her career and to save up for a trip to her dream destination, Iceland.