THE STORY OF AMELIA VEGA, MISS UNIVERSE 2003
(Malkovich is a pageant expert and is one of the best writers among the thousand members of missosology forum)
Amelia Vega, like Zuleyka Rivera, was just eighteen years old when she won the crown of Miss Universe 2003 on June 3rd, 2003 in Panama City, Panama. The beginner of the fierce era, Amelia has left a longstanding impression and legacy at the Miss Universe pageant that I will examine.
In the beginning, Amelia Vega Polanco had no interest in becoming a beauty queen. Her mother, Patricia Polanco Alvarez, represented the Dominican Republic at the Miss World pageant in 1980. However, Amelia imagined a different life for herself. Amelia Vega dreamed of becoming a singer. Not an unrealistic goal since Amelia does have a spectacular voice but this annoyed some people around her who kept on insisting that she should join Miss Republica Dominicana. Amelia admittedly had a near fear of the word and she would always argue against her friends' wishes. It all culminated when, while at the gym, Amelia was approached by a man who told her that she should join beauty pageants just as her mother did. This was not a new occurrence, but Amelia realized that a career in music could open up more easily for her if she was successful in beauty pageants. Amelia went to the Miss Dominican Republic 2002 pageant representing Santiago (where my family is from and some of my family [including my grandfather] still live) and was the universal favorite to win the crown and succeed Ruth Ocumarez. Amelia did, in fact, win the pageant which gave her a ticket to go to the Miss Universe pageant in June, 2003 in Panama.
Amelia Vega arrived in Panama for the Miss Universe 2003 pageant as a co-frontrunner with Miss Brazil, Gislaine Ferreira. In fact, most of the pictures taken by the press covering the event were taken of Miss Brazil and Amelia Vega. Other favorites were Miss South Africa, Miss Serbia & Montenegro, Miss Greece, and Miss Spain. As the pageant progressed, rumors began to circulate that a crown for the Dominican Republic was the only possibility in 2003. Amelia, a very confident girl, would always end her interviews with press with "See you in New York!" By many other contestants and national directors, Amelia was considered "over-confident" and she rubbed many people the wrong way. However, Amelia Vega (along with Miss Brazil) lost some points with the Panamanian press because of their evening gowns. Amelia wore a blue, low-cut evening gown that many believed was out-dated. So, many believed that it was anyone's game heading into the final night. This was the first time that there were 15 semifinalists since the 1970s and many of the frontrunners made the cut along with some surprised (Venezuela and USA). Unknown Fact: Miss Greece received devastating news after the pageant was over; her father had died hours before the show but it was decided that she would not be informed until after it was over. At the evening gown competition, Amelia changed her evening gown to a white one with beads and, with her stage presence, re-secured her spot as THE favorite. At the end of the night, to no surprise to anyone, Amelia won. Her win was marked by two notable controversies. The first, Alexander Gonzalez, her trainer in Venezuela jumped up on the stage and ran to her to congratulate her and was quickly escorted off by security. The second, the other contestants' notable dissatisfaction with Amelia's win. Very few of the girls behind her applauded. However, Amelia did not care about this. She was very open from the beginning that she wasn't there to make friends.
Amelia instantly became a mega-celebrity in the Dominican Republic, even becoming a cover-girl model and being on the front cover of many magazines. The Dominican Republic was very proud to have their first ever Miss Universe. The Pan American Games in 2003 were held in Santo Domingo, and Amelia appeared at the opening ceremony and received an honorary medal. She also appeared a lot on Latino television, which many say is, thanks to her strong personality, she was able to work the Latino market very well. She also did a lot of hosting for Latino networks, including Festival Presidente de Musica Latina in Santo Domingo. Amelia is also one of the most traveled Miss Universes, having gone to over thirty countries during her reign. After her win at Miss Universe, Amelia Vega did not have to deal with much notable controversy and is today considered to be one of the best Miss Universes.
Today, Amelia is a jack-of-all-trades as it seems. She owns two boutiques in Miami, Florida called Essence by Amelia Vega. She has also done some work in music, her first single "Pasa Un Segundito" was released in 2010 and she opened shows for Chayanne and Mark Anthony in front of a crowd of 50,000 people. Her first full album was released in 2011. She also was shown in the video "Mi Corazoncito" with Aventura. Other than music and entrepreneurship, Amelia has continued to appear on magazine covers all over the world, including Cosmo, Harper's Bazaar, and Glamour. Vega also appeared as the host of Voces de America on Telemundo, hosted more Festival Presidentes, and even hosted her own reality show, Suegras, which was shown in the US and Latin America. She made her debut in film in 2005, in The Lost City directed by Andy Garcia. Amelia was also premiered on the cover of the only book the Miss Universe Organization has ever published, Universal Beauty, and Donald Trump has said since that Amelia was one of his favorite Miss Universes ever. In 2011, Amelia Vega married Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and there is no sign of her stopping or slowing her success.