SuperCity: Hara prepares for Miss USA adventure
BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Moani Hara is the opposite of a Monet. The closer you get, the more flawless she becomes.
I was caught off-guard as we walked through the mall recently when she got in to a very quiet — but very obvious — confrontation with an older beauty consultant standing in the middle of a store we passed through.
MISS HAWAII USA
Hara had turned heads from the second we walked in, and once people realized her conversation with the consultant wasn’t exactly pleasant I saw heads tilting, trying to listen in. I clumsily fielded some emails on my phone, trying to be respectful of the situation. I wasn’t sure if it was an auntie scolding her or a more serious conversation, but I definitely didn’t want to know.
“Sorry about that,” she said a few minutes later as we walked down an escalator. “I really don’t like it when people try to test my character.”
It was at that moment that I genuinely respected the girl. The fact she would take a minute, no matter who is watching, to stand up for herself reflected a realness that rocked me to my core.
Sure, I know Moani. Not as Miss Hawaii USA, but as a loyal friend to many. Whether it’s helping makeup artist Kecia Littman paint faces at an Empire of the Sun concert or checking in guests for Flash Hansen at his New Year’s Eve party, there isn’t anything the beauty queen wouldn’t do if it was for a friend.
I personally only know her from a distance, but that’s quite comfortable for me considering her complete knockout presence. Talking with her more, I immediately understood she is a woman who has been through a lot. Hara has put much work into herself and is more self-aware than a lot of today’s social media-scrolling lovelies who may be a bit too obsessed with everyone else’s lives.
Basically, the girl’s got depth.
“I like the idea that Miss Hawaii USA is about being confidant and beautiful,” she said. “When I entered this year I had no intention of winning; I just really wanted to have fun and to see how far I could push myself.”
The result was a win that will take her to the national Miss USA competition in Baton Rouge, La. on June 8.
Some still get the Miss USA and Miss America pageants confused. The Miss USA pageant is more of a beauty and personality competition, while Miss America includes talent and scholastic competitions.
“Miss Hawaii USA is more getting to know yourself,” said Hara, who has participated in both pageants. “Really having your own opinions on different topics, whether it’s political or not, they just really want to get to know who you are.”
Our lunch meeting was her fourth or fifth appointment already that day. She said she’s usually up at 5 a.m. for fittings, interviews, a workout or community events.
“It really teaches you to dig deep.” she said. “Going in to any situation, you have to have a purpose. If you don’t have a purpose there’s never really going to be a positive outcome.
“If you’re just doing it just because or just whatever, I don’t think that that’s acceptable. I think you have to have a drive. You have to have something that’s making you want to do the best that you can do.
“I used to be really shy and very timid. I was introverted at times. When I started doing Miss Hawaii USA it really made me dig deep. I have to show my personality and have to really be comfortable with myself and in tune with my own heart and my own soul.”
With just a few weeks to go before the national pageant, Hara is beginning to feel the crunch.
“(I’m) very stressed, but also very anxious and excited,” she said. “A bunch of different feelings right now all at once, but it’s definitely positive. I’m just trying to really keep focused. I think what’s really stressing me out right now is just the uncertainty.
“I’m really looking forward to the experience in itself, meeting the girls and meeting Donald Trump and the entire organization.”
Hara is up against 50 equally stunning and confidant women next month, but I hope the judges see what I saw during our time together. Scrolling through the contestants now that I know her, I really do think she has a chance to take it all. I will definitely be watching.
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.