In this installment of things you might not know about me: I once competed in pageants. The Miss America system to be exact and before I hung up my clear plastic heels (don’t judge…they’re the best option for swimwear, they make your legs look a million miles long), I made it as far as the top 10 in Miss Washington D.C. Even though I never snagged the tiara, the Miss America system will always hold a special sparkly place in my heart. Because really, after you’ve stood in front of a panel of judges shooting rapid fire questions at you and walked on stage in front of a massive crowd in just your bathing suit, heels, and a big ‘ol smile, not too much phases you. When the Joseph Ribkoff team invited me to spend the afternoon visiting their offices with Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, I knew I had to chat with the beauty queen who’s so much more than a pretty face. Nina’s blazing trails, prepping for med school, and spending a year on the road as the latest young lady to hold the hallowed title of Miss America.
What inspired you to start competing in pageants?
Well the scholarship was part of it, but I had a goal to become the first Indian-American Miss America. I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door, and it was important to me to show the girl next door is evolving as diversity in America evolves. My hope is that little girls and young women will now say I can be accepted and achieve anything by being myself and believing in myself.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Joseph Ribkoff of course!
How would you describe your personal style?
Classy and sophisticated, I love the styles they wear on Mad Men.
On a non-fashion and beauty related note, tell us about your platform and what you hope to accomplish during your tenure as Miss America?
I hope to bring awareness to and help educate on cultural competency.
Even with the amount of traveling you do, how do you manage to always look so flawlessly put together?
My wardrobe sponsor Joseph Ribkoff is a great help in this area. They send me great clothes to wear that are travel friendly. They don’t wrinkle so I can pull a piece out of my suitcase, pop it on, and it looks fresh and crisp.
What are your makeup bag must-haves?
R.E.I.GN Lip Gloss
With your crazy travel schedule, you end up living out of your suitcases for your year as Miss America 2014. I can imagine you’ve really streamlined your wardrobe, what are some of the staple pieces that you can’t live or travel without?
My Joseph Ribkoff essentials. Not only can I mix and match them but they are very travel friendly. No ironing needed and they go from day to night very easily.
What has been your favorite experience so far holding the title of Miss America?
Well everything has been a wonderful experience, but I’d have to say Children’s Miracle Network Celebration. I spent a week this past September with 50 plus CMNH Champions, who are children dealing or have dealt with severe illnesses or injuries. We split the week between Disney World and Washington DC and one of the highlights of the week was visiting the White House and meeting President Obama. The spirit of these kids just touched me, I really can’t put into words how they affected me. Their strength and resilience was just amazing to witness. There really are champions!