Interview with miss Angola 2018 Ana Liliana Avião
On February 24 of this year, Ana Liliana Avião, I and 4 other people, were speakers at the event organized by the Angolan Professional Network (APN). APN is a network platform for Angolan professionals and sympathizers of Angola, to exchange knowledge and experiences. It was in this event where I met her and in the same event, she talked about how the realization of our dreams is closely linked to how much we truly believe in our abilities. I remember she pointed out by saying that “there is no difference between Oprah, Obama and any of us. If they are what they are any of us can also be what we want to be.” And calmly she added saying “it was this mentality that allowed me to compete for Miss Benelux and win. It is also with the same mentality that I will compete for Miss Angola 2018 and later for Miss Universe.”
I must confess that the universe of beauty contests has never been something that caught so much my attention. However, as soon as I heard Ana Liliana Avião had won the miss Angola 2018, I could not stop thinking about her speech on February 24, 5 months earlier. Fighting for our dreams is something we hear people talking about it many times, but it also something that people don’t do often. So I found it very inspiring that Liliana had spoken about it in February. But I found it even more inspiring when she, by winning Miss Angola 2018, has also shown us that when we really believe in our capabilities as humans, we can achieve everything we want. And so I could not pass up this opportunity to meet her, for a pleasant conversation, share a story so that we can be inspired by her, through her knowledge, convictions, and experiences. Read the interview to the end.
AD (AngoDiva) – Obviously we already know each other, but in order for people to know who you are, can you please introduce yourself?
ALA (Ana Liliana Avião) – My name is Ana Liliana Aviao, I was born in Angola and raised in The Netherlands. I’m currently finalizing my Bachelor of International Business and Management, and I have the honor to be a spokeswoman for my country Angola.
AD – Wau, miss Angola 2018. Congratulations for such accomplishment. And why International Business and Management?
ALA – When I was younger I always knew that I wanted to do something significant in this world. I envisioned myself speaking out on behalf of the voiceless and defend the rights of the vulnerable. And the reason for this was because I was one of them. I didn’t know exactly ‘’how’’ I was going to do this, I only had to look into my mother’s face and I knew how badly I wanted to be her spokeswoman, and for the many people who resembled her. As a refugee, I know exactly how it feels like to feel socially excluded, helpless or not good enough. So, I dived into education with a purpose: I wanted to be an entrepreneur in emerging markets. Hoping that that could give me the power to bring about change.
AD – We all know that it is important to dream and believe in our dreams, but despite this sounding logical in each of our ears, we have learned that the problems, obstacles, and challenges we face daily tend to slowly destroy this logic. Over time we became cynical, we accept what life gives us and we become convinced that our dreams are not destined to be fulfilled. But, you seem to me to be such a positive and confident person! I can see that you genuinely believe in your abilities. I remember when in your speech at the APN event in February, you talked about how much you believed that you would be the Miss Angola 2018. Now here we are because you managed to accomplish that. Can you share with us how you did it?
ALA – It is a process. I wasn’t always confident, there was a period in my life that I hated my looks and all the attributes that made me win the crown of Miss Angola. During High School, I was bullied for being taller than the average girl, for being black, for being too skinny, or for having darker gums. That feeling of social exclusion pushed me even more towards education. To a point that I unconsciously based my identity on my intelligence, but little did I know how fragile that made me. Because one negative remark about my intellect could shut me down completely. I’d feel like that little girl in High School again: not good enough.
AD – And when did this process begin?
ALA – It was a heartbreak that taught me that even intelligence is not equal to being ‘’good enough.’’ You may be the smartest or even the most beautiful woman in the world, but if you base your identity around those factors, you become fragile. There will always be someone prettier, smarter or faster than you. Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is all about the survival of the fittest, or the survival of the richest or most beautiful. So, we strive to work towards that. But how about the survival of the most loving? Or the survival of the most authentic? Or most compassionate? Traits like vulnerability, empathy, humility are brushed as weak. We live in a world where we glorify IQ over EQ (emotional intelligence), and self-development becomes common sense, but not common practice. That software no longer served me if I wanted to live in a world where all things are possible.
AD– and how did you do that?
ALA – Well, as I said, it was a process. I started unlearning everything I have been programmed to believe since birth. I went on a quest to find myself through solo traveling, living in dorms, reading a lot of philosophical and spiritual books, admiring and learning from the uniqueness of others, and I began to prioritize self-development over social validation. This quest turned into a journey of self-love, and gradually the feelings of self-condemnation turned into ‘’self-worth.’’ And with that self-worth, I felt worthy enough to imagine myself capable of being the next Miss Angola. And that’s when it all began.
AD- So being miss was always your dream, but did not you feel self-confident enough to believe in it?
ALA – Being a miss was never a dream of mines, but it became my purpose once I realized my own powers. If a human being dares to be Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, so can you. “We are all human; therefore, nothing human can be alien to us.” ― Maya Angelou. Man versus himself is the greatest battle to fight and win in life. I grew up with a negative story of my beauty and with it I won Miss Angola – How ironic – that goes to show you that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. It was only when I found myself ‘’beautiful’’, that the world started to see that too. We spent our entire lives trying to adapt to the beauty standards of this world, only to realize that beauty has nothing to do with the image that everyone has about it, but more so with YOUR OWN definition of the word ‘’beautiful.’’ And that is why being crowned as Miss Angola was a true victory for me, because I proved to myself that, I too, can be anything I want to be in the life.
AD– You are now officially the most beautiful Angolan woman in 2018. How do you define beauty and to how this definition influenced your victory?
ALA – My new definition of beauty has nothing to do with intelligence or physical attributes. But it has everything to do with mental maturity and love. Its only when you acquire that self-love, that your cup will overflow so you can pour into the cups of others. Psalm 23:5: My cup runneth over — that means, I have more than enough for my needs. I participated with Miss Benelux Angola because I felt worthy enough; I established a love so deep for myself, that the thought of being a Miss didn’t sound that unreachable anymore. Today I can say that Self-Love is what got me the crown, Self-Love is what made me the co-founder of a recent established NGO that aims to connect Angolan small businesses looking for capital with Dutch investors, and Self-worth is what got me to fulfill my childhood dream as a spokeswoman.
AD- And what exactly do you represent today as a spokesperson?
ALA- Today, I represent the underdogs, the outcasts, the tall girls who find it hard to accept their length, the children who grew up in single-parent families, and all of the diasporas all over the world who are counting the days until they get to reunite with their country. I represent humanity, and the result of what happens to humanity when we dare to be bigger than the conditions that we were born in. If the little Angolan girl who came to The Netherlands as a refugee managed to overcome her self-doubts and turn them into something inspiring, then so can you. Looking back I understand why I had to go through what I went through. As Steve Jobs says: ‘’You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’’
AD– Beautiful! And what advice do you give to all the girls who dream of being a miss, but without so much confidence in their abilities to do so?
ALA – My advice for all the beautiful young girls who also want to be a Miss, focus on creating your own definition of beautiful. Polish that inner beauty. Strive to become that version of yourself that only you can be proud of. You can achieve this by saying YES to everything that scares you may it be traveling by yourself, applying for a beauty pageant, or giving random presentations. Whatever it is that scares you: DO IT! It is your fears that hold your greatest treasure after all.
AD– We are now living in a time where women are fighting hard for their rights. As a woman and competitor of the Miss Universe what kind of change do you want to see in the world for women?
ALA- I want women to be braver and less perfectionistic. That means that we should stop searching for answers to questions on what could go wrong and start trusting ourselves to take the leap and to ‘’just do it.’’ Perfectionism is the murderer of self-mastery, I know this because I used to be a perfectionist myself. I used to hate making mistakes. I would not start with anything until I was 100% sure or ready. I’ve learned that life is a series of imperfect moments where we will never be 100% sure or 100% ready. There is no perfect moment. No time when we will know enough to guarantee we will get what we want. No time when we’ll be 100% sure that we’re ready to have a child, fall in love, take a job, move cross-country, build a business, show our work, stand in our truth, pursue our dream. Still, at some point, imperfectly informed, we need to act. And it is within the act that we will unleash the brave goddess within us.
AD – Wuau Liliana, I could stay here all day talking to you, but unfortunately our time is limited. Thank you so much for giving me this interview. You inspired me with every word. I recognized myself in your philosophy of life, but above all, you taught me new ones. I wish you a lot of success in everything you want to achieve in life. And this time I will follow every minute of the Miss Universe contest and I will be cheering for you. You’re beautiful inside and outside out. I believe that you will inspire a lot of people, especially teenagers and young women to realize that SELF-LOVE is the foundation of everything and that it starts from the inside out and not the other way around. Let your cup continue to overflow with love so that you can distribute it to the world.
ALA– Thank you very much. The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and share with you a little bit of my story. Much success for you too, continue with this wonderful work you are doing.
AD- Thank you darling.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and do not forget to dream and always fight for the fulfillment of your dreams.