Chanel No 1

She was a quiet kid and a volleyball-playing tomboy, but look at Chanel Wise now. The best part: Friends say she’s as beautiful inside as out

Friday - March 16, 2007
By Lisa Asato
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No wonder Chanel won the evening gown portion of the Miss Hawaii USA pageant. Here she models a gown designed by Joe Dargham.
No wonder Chanel won the
evening gown portion of the
Miss Hawaii USA pageant.
Here she models a gown
designed by Joe Dargham.

Miss Hawaii USA Chanel Joy Pua’ala’onalani Wise grew up watching the world. Now at 21 she’s showing that she’s become part of it.

Named after her mother’s favorite perfume, Chanel No. 5, the little girl who grew up just a little bit tomboy says of her younger self:“I’d be the girl who would always kind of watch everybody else and never really say much. I always kind of just listened.But now,“she adds with a laugh, “I know how to get out there and take control.”

Wise, a model, Polynesian dancer and aspiring forensic pathologist and crime scene investigator, is in Los Angeles to compete against 50 other American beauties for the title of Miss USA, starting with preliminary competitions on Monday. Finals air at 8 p.m. next Friday on NBC.


Chanel won Miss Congeniality in the Healthy Baby Contest
Chanel won Miss
Congeniality in the
Healthy Baby Contest

“On pageant night I’m looking forward to winning,“says Wise, a 2003 St. Francis School graduate who’s enjoying the self-confidence boost that winning the state title has given her. “I want to win.”

A consistent Top 10 favorite with online voters around the world, Wise packed nearly her entire room for the trip, especially her Bible. “I worry about it here and there, like would I be able to handle this (responsibility) if it really does happen,” Wise says. “But my faith and trust is just in God, and I know that if I’m able to handle it, He’ll grant it.”


No wonder Chanel won the evening gown portion of the Miss Hawaii USA pageant. Here she models a gown designed by Eric Chandler.
No wonder Chanel won the
evening gown portion of
the Miss Hawaii USA
pageant. Here she models
a gown designed by Eric
Chandler.

At 5-feet-8-inches and 126 pounds,Wise won both the swimsuit and evening gown competitions in December’s Miss Hawaii USA pageant. The only category missing from making it a clean sweep was the interview portion, which she’s been working on with coaches Eric Chandler and Takeo, the co-executive directors of the Miss Hawaii USA pageant.

“We had a mock interview session last night, and she did really really excellent,” says Takeo, who together with Chandler has worked in the pageant business for 25 years.“To me she’s sincere, it’s not like a pageant-type girl, who can sometimes be ‘me,me,me.’ That is sometimes good because they have a strong desire,but Chanel is totally different. She’s more humble and nice.She really embodies aloha.”


No wonder Chanel won the evening gown portion of the Miss Hawaii USA pageant. Here she models a gown designed by Chris Kole.
No wonder Chanel won the
evening gown portion of the
Miss Hawaii USA pageant.
Here she models a gown
designed by Chris Kole.

Wise, a painter in acrylics whose art hangs in the family’s Aina Haina home,says her initial interest in pageants was simply to try something new. But after placing third runner-up on her first try in 2004, she realized she could use the position to help others. “My main reason why I decided to run (again) is because when I was younger I was diagnosed with an eating disorder,” says Wise, who successfully battled anorexia nervosa over one and a half years during high school, with the help of a psychiatrist and nutritionist. Her disorder was unintentionally brought on by a poor diet and drinking too much soda, which led to a hole in her esophagus. “I thought with a title and being a role model I’d be able to touch more lives and more women who are struggling with eating disorders.”

Since winning the crown in December, Wise has spoken about eating disorders at St. Francis High, her alma mater where she played volleyball and paddled, and Moanalua Intermediate School, where she spoke to a group of 25 girls who were showing signs of suffering from low self-esteem and body image.“I spoke to them individually in the library,but you could tell a lot of them are hurting because they were crying while I was

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