Ivanka Trump's First-Ever TV Appearance Was A Far Cry From Politics

Ivanka Trump has been no stranger to the public eye in recent years, thanks in no small part to her father, former President Donald Trump — but her cool, calm, and collected demeanor didn't always come naturally to her. Despite how poised and unfazed she might seem these days, even Ivanka wasn't immune to the awkward days of teenhood.

One notable difference, of course, is that Ivanka's clumsy teenage self was immortalized on camera when she was a co-host of the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant in South Padre Island, Texas. While the then-15-year-old Ivanka was undoubtedly beautiful on camera, her nerves peeked through as she stumbled over words and stiffly changed facial expressions. 

But hey — who wouldn't be a bit awkward as a 15-year-old hosting a nationally televised beauty pageant? Performance butterflies or not, Ivanka's first appearance on television was certainly a long way away from the political realm she's recognized from today.

Audience members were quick to point out Ivanka Trump's subpar performance

Ivanka Trump might've only been a teen, but that didn't stop audience members from criticizing the young girl's performance. TV Guide wrote a particularly scathing review, stating that she "was clearly not up to the rigors of live television. Posing and posturing woodenly, she stumbled over her lines all night, mangling both grammar (she asked the reigning winner, 'And what is the next for you?') and geography (she referred to one contestant as Miss Illinoise)." 

"Seeing his daughter up onstage may have made Mr. Trump proud as he sat in the front row, but for the rest of us, it was merely painful," the TV Guide review continued (per Spin). Ivanka spoke to Spin about the pageant, defending her younger self by pointing out that the broadcast was live, which made it all the more nerve-wracking. "But it was really fun, and now I can truthfully say that I have friends in all 50 states," she said. 

The former presidential advisor's ability to offer her younger self grace is a testament to her resilience, which would prove useful almost two decades later when her fashion brand went from success to mess in a few short years. Indeed, the stunning transformation of Ivanka has been a long process, and not without the occasional setback.

Ivanka Trump's longtime association with her father Donald Trump, for better or worse

Donald Trump owned the Miss USA and Teen Miss USA pageants from 1996 to 2015, which is how Ivanka Trump landed her role as pageant co-host. And while this familial connection gave Ivanka her first of many on-camera appearances, the teen also had to reconcile with her father's seedier behavior during the pageant. 

In 2016, Buzzfeed News reported that four former pageant contestants came forward about Donald Trump's uncomfortable behavior, including visiting the young girls backstage while they were getting dressed. Maria Billado, former Miss Vermont Teen USA, recalled sharing these concerns with Ivanka, to which the pageant owner's daughter replied, "Yeah, he does that." The women Buzzfeed spoke to had better memories of Ivanka, who would also visit the dressing rooms to mingle with the contestants. 

From pageant owner to President of the United States, Ivanka has been navigating her association with her father for years. Most recently, the former advisor to President Trump has been distancing herself from her dad since he left the White House, choosing instead to step out of the political ring and focus on her own path outside her father's shadow.