Houston’s Margana Wood aims to create ‘judgment-free generation.’
By Don Maines
Miss Texas 2017, Margana Wood, has a message for everyone: “You belong.”
“It’s important for everyone to hear the phrase, because they do—everybody belongs,” says Wood, who will represent the Lone Star State at the 91st Miss America pageant, to be broadcast live September 10 on ABC-TV.
The Houstonian’s platform, “You Belong,” is subtitled, “Creating a judgment-free generation.”
“We live in the era of the bully,” she explains. “You can hardly open a newspaper, watch TV, or listen to the radio without hearing about some sort of reference to the current bullying epidemic. For this very reason, my campaign speaks to all people, of all ages. ‘You Belong’ empowers communities to foster a judgment-free attitude where people respect differences and value kindness—a place where everyone feels like they belong and are accepted.”
Wood’s cause might be the most LGBTQ-friendly platform of any Miss America contestant since that of Miss New York 2010, Claire Buffie, who championed queer equality, calling it “the civil-rights movement of my generation.”
Pageant lovers helped vote Buffie into the semifinals as one of two fan-picked America’s Choice winners. This year, fans only get to place one contestant in the Top 15, through votes cast via Facebook at missamerica.org/vote. Voting ends at 8 p.m. on September 5.
The following night in Atlantic City, New Jersey, preliminary competition will begin in swimsuit, talent, and evening gown/onstage question.
Among the judges will be beefcake model/actor Rusty Joiner, who portrayed the chiseled cosmetic surgeon in RuPaul’s campy video of the 2004 dance/house tune “Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous.”
For her talent round at Miss America, Wood will perform a contemporary dance to Adele’s 2015 release “When We Were Young.” The number was choreographed by Shea Sullivan, who also mapped out routines for the raucous 2014 off-Broadway revival of Pageant, in which men in drag portrayed contestants competing for the title and tiara of Miss Glamouresse.
In that musical comedy, says Manhattan-based Sullivan, “Miss Texas was the most talented. They explain that her daddy had flown a New York choreographer to their ranch in Texas to practice with her. She threw in everything but the kitchen sink. Miss Texas rode out on a hobby horse, then she did splits and high kicks, she tapped, jumped rope—everything you can think of.”
Sullivan also choreographed talent numbers for this year’s Miss America state representatives from Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, and South Carolina.
Wood graduated in 2013 from Lamar High School in Houston, then completed her degree in corporate communications this spring at the University of Texas.
Fans can follow her reign at “Miss Texas Margana Wood” on Facebook, where she recently posted that she’s preparing for the swimsuit competition with Jay Johnson, the official trainer for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. •
This article appears in the September 2017 edition of OutSmart Magazine.