From Little House to Family Guy, everything you wanted to know about Ariana Walker, Miss North Dakota 2011.
Ariana Walker | Fifteen More Minutes – Smartasses Magazine
They say that you “can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” But ya know what? Every once in awhile someone comes along who is just as beautiful, friendly, and down-to-Earth on the inside as they appear to be on the outside. Meet Ariana Walker. Yes, she’s a beauty queen. Yes, she’s probably put Vaseline on her teeth a time or three, and yes, if you said she looked like a living Barbie Doll few would argue- but make no mistake, Miss North Dakota 2011 is anything but “plastic”.
Which is exactly why we wanted to spend fifteen minutes with her. We not only wanted to learn a little bit about the life of pageantry from someone who would give us a bit more than a blank-smile-and-world-peace-sandwich, but we also wanted to know what it’s like growing up in an area of the United States that few people pay attention to- an area where the economy and job market is actually thriving.
Smartasses: Ariana, Smartasses is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, so let’s actually start by talking about your neck of the woods, and maybe you can shed some light on it for the rest of us dummies. Maybe it’s just us, and if it is or it isn’t, no one is certainly saying that this is right or just, but it just seems like your area of the country- North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana especially, almost gets forgotten about, in a way, by everyone else in the United States. Maybe it’s just due to the fact that there are no major colleges or sports teams from that region to help the cause, but is there any truth to that? Maybe it’s even impossible for you to know since you live there, but it just seems to us that people are generally ignorant of what goes on there, and our guess is that every person you meet who was born and raised east of Minnesota, probably asks you about Mt. Rushmore and automatically assumes you’re from Fargo.
Walker: Most people I meet who have never been to North Dakota do assume I live in Fargo or on a farm like Little House on the Prairie. Make no mistake there is prairie but I live in the city of Bismarck, emphasis on “city”. Some people think it’s winter all of the time, which, it’s not- we get all four seasons. Not many people know about it, but North Dakota is growing. We have more people coming here than ever before because we are one of very few states who have a booming economy, due to the oil boom from the large oil formation under the western portion of the state. We have so many job openings that the housing market is trying to keep up with the demand. Let’s just say our state is in a transitional phase and we are still going strong. Agriculture is also very important to North Dakota.
Smartasses: We noticed you said “Emphasis on city”. What would you say if we told you that we just used Google Street View to zoom in on “Rosser & 6th Street” in the heart of downtown… and we don’t see any skyscrapers? Ha ha. Not that it’s a bad thing. It actually looks like a very nice, relaxing and safe place to live, and there’s a certain sense of serenity to it. To be honest, it’s difficult to imagine anyone even being in a bad mood there.
Walker: North Dakota is one of the safest places to live, and ha ha… no, no skyscrapers in North Dakota. The capitol building in Bismarck is 241 feet tall!
Smartasses: So being that for all intents and purposes, you live in a city that’s only 27 square miles large… what’s it like going to the grocery store? Not that you walked around with your crown on or anything, but my guess is that “Ariana” is still just “Ariana” to most folks since you probably grew up with a lot of them. Then again, on the other side of the coin, being that it is a smaller city, perhaps that means you’re just that much easier to spot- so maybe you create twice as much buzz as say, Miss New York might get, walking around in downtown Manhattan in her civvies.
Walker: I prided myself on meeting as many people as I can throughout my year so I do get recognized quite often by people I met when I was Miss North Dakota. The trick is remembering them. In several instances I have been recognized by kids from the schools I spoke to, and they are never quiet about it either. It’s always, “Look mom it’s Miss North Dakota!!!”
Smartasses: So tell the story for everyone. How and why did you get involved in pageantry?
Walker: The reason I became involved in pageants was because I met Angela Baraquio, Miss America 2001. She came to my school and spoke to the students about character education. She helped me realize that as a 10 year old I could be anything I wanted to be even though I was being bullied so much by my classmates. I competed for the first time in a natural, scholarship, pageant that used Miss America rules to judge and I loved it! I have been hooked ever since.
Smartasses: Had you had any previous interest in pageantry and she kind of sealed the deal? Or was she literally the spark that started the fire? Additionally, why do you say that you were bullied?
Walker: When I was growing up I always watched Miss America with my mom but I never thought I could actually get there one day. Hearing Angela’s story helped me gain the courage to compete in my first pageant. I never had much confidence when I was little and it was mostly due to the girls in my grade making fun of me for everything I did. Basically nothing I did was right and I stopped being myself to gain their approval and even that didn’t work. To be honest I never really had much confidence until I got to high school and had been competing in pageants for many years.
Smartasses: And now that pageantry is over with, what’s next?
Walker: What’s next for me… well, school for one thing. I am on my last semester of my undergraduate program and I will graduate this December with my Bachelors in Exercise Science and a minor in Health and Wellness. In the Fall of 2013 I will enter into my graduate program. I have been deciding between Pediatrich OT or Pediatrich PT. PT is a doctoral degree and OT is a masters program, both offer specialties in pediatrics which is where I eventually want to be. OT focuses more on the upper half of the body, so trunk, head, neck, arms, hands, etc… PT focuses on the lower half like walking, running, standing. Hopefully by next fall I will have made my decision. I’m still teaching dance at Culture Shock in Bismarck and I am doing some pageant coaching also. I work at Bridal N’ More as a sales rep and will start an internship through my exercise science program in the spring. That will be my undergrad degree that will eventually take me into my graduate program.
Smartasses: Teaching dance. Can we assume this to mean ‘cultural’ dance, based on the name ‘Culture Shock’?
Walker: Since I started dancing when I was 3 I always wanted to teach dance when I got older. I really do enjoy it! I teach many different types of dance like ballet, contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. I choreograph solo and team dances, help pick out music, and order costumes. When I was 15 I actually got kicked out of the studio I was with because I wanted to join my high school drill team and my instructor freaked out on me, told me I couldn’t do both, and then told me to get out. I spent the next 3 years as a Demonette with my high school and I loved it! Now I get to teach other Demonettes and allow them to be a part of a studio team while still being on a drill team; an opportunity I never had. I think the arts are a great way to express your self. I cannot describe how it feels to choreograph a dance and then see it come to life through my dancers.
Smartasses: That would have to be a great feeling. And.. bridal shop. Not sure why, but that feels appropriate somehow. Pageant coaching also seems right. For fear of sounding cheesy, I very much get the sense that you just have a lot of joy in your heart and really enjoy helping people.
Walker: Of course I enjoy helping people! I like to see them happy and know that I had some small role in that makes my life just a little better. The bridal shop is a good fit for me because I get to be around dresses all day long, and the pageant coaching is something I can offer these younger girls who want to be Miss North Dakota one day and have never had any type of guidance.
Smartasses: We have to ask though, just because you’re so photogenic… any aspirations to do any kind of modeling or acting at all, and utilize your fame in that manner? Maybe you could be like Amanda Kimmel (Miss Montana ’05) and end up on Survivor…
Walker: Survivor or Amazing Race would be awesome!!! Any way you can hook that up? I probably cannot model because I’m only 5’4’’ but I do like to be in front of the camera. Maybe acting? Who knows? I have a feeling my next big adventure involves finishing college.
Smartasses: Another thing we’d love to pick your brain on is the dichotomy of what it was like to be ‘royalty’… yet at the same time you couldn’t even legally drink the champagne people toasted you with? That would have to be frustrating. It’d have to be tempting to want to go up to bouncers and say, “Umm… do you know who I am?”
Walker: Wearing a crown never made me royalty so no one ever toasted me, but when I turned 21 my family and I did toast to a great year!
Smartasses: The champagne thing was more of a metaphor, ha ha, but honestly, the dichotomy would have to be frustrating.
Walker: Never had a problem with it actually. I did not have my 21st birthday until my year was close to over so it was not hard to wait a month or two to get to celebrate. My last week as Miss North Dakota was physically and emotionally draining. It was so bitter sweet and I don’t think I have ever cried so much over little things like hearing “Ladies and gentlemen for one last time we welcome to the stage your Miss North Dakota 2011 Ariana Walker.” My board of directors did a fantastic job making my last week so special and unforgettable.
Smartasses: That’s awesome. Although, one plus had to be that you could finally let loose a bit more. You had to be tired to death of always having to be politically correct?
Walker: Yes I do get tired of being politically correct but I was allowed to speak my mind as Miss North Dakota as long as I never offended anyone or tried to push my opinions onto someone else. Religion and politics can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people and many people have their own stances that might be different than mine. What I try to do is understand both sides so I can see why it is they feel differently than I do.
Smartasses: Well that was a very politically correct way of saying you get tired of being politically correct… but with that said, seriously, we’d have to guess that you’re just dying to drop an F-bomb or three in public just to get it out of your system?
Walker: Ha ha ha! The F bomb. Well I can proudly say that I never let that one slip at an appearance or anytime I was in my crown and sash. I have close friends and family who I love and trust, the people who never saw me as Miss North Dakota but always as Ariana. Those people have heard me swear on a couple of occasions but sometimes I would be really stressed out and it just slipped. I recall a moment when it seemed like everything that could have gone wrong did and I was so frustrated that I looked at my mom and said, “You have got to be F’ ing kidding me!” She just laughed and said, “Feel better?”
Smartasses: F-Bomb. Thought you might enjoy that one… You’re an Aries if we’ve done our math correctly, and that usually means a great, dry sense of humor… especially when it comes to the idiocy of others, which typically does mean an F-bomb or two.
Walker: So true, and if you ask anyone who knows me I can often be heard quoting funny movies or Family Guy.