meet alana soares, the coed who came in from the cold
How many people can stay up all night studying for a mid-term in political science, take a quick shower and then show up for an interview in complete control -- charming, sparkling, witty? And still look as good as Alana Soares? None that we can remember. We asked how she did on the test. "Well, it was one of those where you did either very well or not so well. I think I did OK. I am fascinated by American government, politics, how things work. When I like something, I usually do very well."
Alana is a freshman at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She has signed up as a political-science major, in part because of a trip to Mazatlán last spring. "It bothers me how people take for granted our way of life. When you see how differently the rest of the world lives, you want to find out more about your own system."
Alana is a one-woman United Nations. "My father is Hawaiian-Japanese, a three-time United States surfboard champion. My mother is Spanish-Irish. When they divorced, she took my younger sister and me and moved to Park City. My mother works in a ski shop." Alana tends to favor her mother: "I've tried surfing. I can't do it. In skiing, you lean away from the mountain. In surfing you lean into the wave. It seemed wrong." Although we've never heard of a famous Spanish, Irish, Hawaiian or Japanese skier, Alana and her sister, Leilani, took to skis in a ferocious sibling rivalry. They were sponsored by the local K2 representative and for seven years went to every race in the Intermountain Division.
"During my freshman year in high school, I took another look at my goals. I had been in training for years. I was tired of climbing up hills, tired of running gates, tired of dry-land training. I realized I was missing my childhood. I decided to devote myself to my studies. Now, when I do ski, I like my mountains steep and hard. You can find me on Prospector or Jupiter Bowl [two Park City trails] after fresh snow. I really like Deer Valley. The trails there are groomed to perfection and you can just fly. And the food at the mid-station restaurant is great."
It became evident that Alana had an appetite for adrenaline and the good things in life. We asked her what it was like to grow up in a town as small as Park City. "My high school had 300 students. My graduating class was only 63 people. Everyone knows everybody else. I finally called up my father in California and went out to Laguna Beach to go to school for a year. I wanted to be a nobody, to see how I fit in where nobody knew anything about me, where I didn't care what other people said. It was an incredible year. I met a lot of terrific people. But I moved back to Park City to finish high school."
That sense of seeing how she stacked up against the "real world" is probably the factor that made Alana try to be a Playmate. She was applying for a modeling position in Japan. "My mother and I drove to this studio in Salt Lake City. The photographer who was going to take pictures for my composite shared the studio with another photographer, named Stephen Wayda. Wayda asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a Playmate. He said that 6000 girls tried out every year but only 12 made it. When I looked through the magazine, I didn't think I had a chance. They were all so blonde. I was surprised when Playboy called me in for a gatefold test. My mother and I went out to California, I did the shot and the rest just happened." The event has brought considerable attention to Alana; she's that rarity, a Playmate from Utah. "Girls come up to me on campus and ask, 'Are you proud to be in Playboy?' I say yes. It's an honor to be a Playmate and a brunette." Not a bad line for someone who'd gone without sleep.
Photography by Ken Marcus