Tuesday, January 29, 2013

25 Fun Facts about Miss New York USA!

Well, these past few days have been quite busy! Between work, performing, volunteering, appointments, and fittings, I haven't been able to blog for you all. Rather than overwhelming you with a detailed account of my hectic weekend, I thought we could do something a little more fun! Who doesn't love a revealing post? I'm going to share 25 interesting facts about myself, so my audience can get to know me better. Also, if I mention something that we have in common, let me know! Alright, here goes...

1. I was born and raised in Freehold, NJ. Just one town over from our 2011 Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella! (She is from Manalapan, NJ). Even though I grew up in Jersey, my home is NY. They say home is where the heart is, and I <3 NY!

2. I received my BA in Fine Arts/Theatre from Rider University. I moved to NYC right after college to pursue a career in acting.

3. I have one older sister who just so happens to be my best friend. Her name is Mary and she is a phenomenal tap dancer/choreographer.

4. I live in a very tiny apartment in Hell's Kitchen. It doesn't even have a living room! But a view of the Empire State Building from my bedroom window is an excellent trade off.

5. Top five places I'd love to visit: Barcelona, Greece, Sicily, New Zealand, and Australia.

6. I had severe scoliosis when I was younger, and wore a back-brace for 16 hours a day from age 12-16. I was that girl with the back-brace. I didn't like that I was different, but my mother often reminded me that everyone has their own fair share of problems, and things could always be worse.

7. My favorite movie is "Waiting for Guffman." Go watch it. Now. Thank me later.

8. "When things Fall Apart; Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron, is a book that has truly affected my life. Last year, I was in a messy place, and a friend suggested I read it. Chodron is a buddhist nun who focuses on the ideas of impermanence and kindness. Love.

9.  I've been in love once. And I've had my heart broken once. I honor my past and look forward to my future :)

10. My favorite color is green.

11. My biggest fear is being blind...I'm also terrified of crickets.

12. I went to Las Vegas on a family vacation when I was 21, and won $300 playing penny slots!

13. One day, I want my own a vineyard. I'm such a wino.

14. Besides the USA crown (wink wink), I would like to be triple crowned some day. With an Emmy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

15. I will name my three future children, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony.

16. My favorite holiday is Black Friday. My sister and I make an event out of it every year. The rules are simple. Wake up early. Only buy things for yourself. And at least one impulse purchase is required.

17. My favorite actor is Daniel Day Lewis. His ability to transform into different characters is both inspiring and disturbing. If you have not seen the film, "My Left Foot," do yourself a favor and watch it.

18. I love shoes. My bank account does not. I'm sure one day, we'll all be in agreement :)

19. Billy Joel is one of my favorite musicians. In the future, I will walk down the aisle to an instrumental version of "She's Always a Woman."

20. One of the best plays I have ever seen on Broadway was Marsha Norman's "'night Mother." The premise is this... a middle aged woman tells her mother that she has decided to commit suicide, and then prepares her mother for life without her. Edie Falco played the daughter. Grown men were sobbing in the audience. When the actresses were taking their bows at the end of the play, I couldn't even stand and applaud them. I was still so affected by what I saw, that clapping seemed odd to me. It was at that moment I knew, I wanted to do great work like that.

21. I dislike pickles. And roller coasters.

22. I hate conflict. I was a peer mediator in middle school.

23. After a difficult workout, one where I really push myself, I will actually pat myself on the back.

24. I love sour cream donuts.

25. Two summers ago, I did background for the soap "One Life to Live." I was "bikini girl" and entered the frame getting out of a fake pool. The poor assistant who had to hose me off before each take was a real trooper!

And there you have it! Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 25, 2013

From Pouring Red Wine, to Walking Red Carpets

Oh the beloved day job. How we all, at times, loathe thee. When I first moved to the city to pursue a career in acting, I knew I would need a job with a steady paycheck. And while, I knew my talents were worth big pay checks, it often takes others in the industry a while to come around. I had waited tables in the past and knew I was good at it. The flexible schedule made it the ideal "day job."

For the past 2+ years, I have worked for a great restaurant group. What sets my job apart from others is that we don't view our work as service. We work in the hospitality industry. We go above and beyond to accommodate our guests. We always like to answer with a yes, we keep a positive mental attitude, and we rely on our teammates to help create a great shift. It's amazing how these values seem so easy, and yet can be so hard at times. It's not uncommon to feel unappreciated and of lesser value than those you are serving. I remember after one particularly busy and mentally tiring shift, I told a coworker, "I just don't like when people ask me for stuff." But much like everyday life, when faced with difficult people or situations, one must persevere and move forward.

There are certain things I enjoy about waiting tables/bartending. I like quick paced active jobs. They make the time fly by. I love talking to people! It's especially nice when you develop your own set of "regulars." I like the idea of hosting and entertaining. Sometimes, I pretend I am throwing a party, and everyone who comes into the restaurant are my own personal guests whom I want to make feel at home. A little over the top, I know, but it gets me through the shift.

When I get down about not booking a role I auditioned for, or having to work on weekends and holidays, I just remind myself, 'this is not permanent.' One day I will be so far removed from pouring wine and shaking martinis, that I will look back on these moments and laugh. I must really try to enjoy these times more. You create the life you want, but you can only live in the present, and we must honor our day jobs. This job allows me to live and thrive in New York.

Jack, Leigh, me, and Amy-Louise
So even though I walked my first red carpet last night, I must still offer ketchup and spicy mayonnaise with an order of french fries. At least for the time being. Because I chose to live in the sexiest city in the world, and boy, she doesn't come cheap.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My first launch party/red carpet

Tonight, I painted the town red... and neon. I was thrilled to attend the L'amour launch party at the Hudson hotel. Nanette Lepore created an amazing line of clothes with her daughter to be sold at JC Penny's. It's the cutest collection ever. Lots of bright colors. Flirty with a hint of sexy. Simple lines. Both basic and statement pieces. The price point is right on. I grew up shopping at JCP with my mom, and wish this sort of style was around when I was younger!

The venue was spot on. We descended into a raw industrial space decorated with multi-colored slinkies and drapes of neon fabric. There was an Instagram station, where hash-tagged photos appeared on a large screen for all to see and later printed out as favors. The lollipop bar was my favorite area. The white chocolate/strawberry pops were so yummy. 

Since this was a launch party, there were tons of press and photographers. It was my first time posing on a red carpet as Miss New York USA! It was such a thrilling experience. My white cape from Pinky Otto definitely gave me a much needed boost of confidence. I felt like a rock star beauty queen. 

There was then a lot of mingling to be done. Something I'm realizing very quickly is that I need to be more business minded. It is how I will make the most of my year. You never know when someone you meet may revisit you in the future and offer you a wonderful opportunity. So, I am doing my best to remember people's names and create a great first impression. 

It's still hard to believe that this is only the fourth day of my reign. I feel like I've learned a ton of interview, publicity, and beauty skills already. I'm looking forward to many more exciting opportunities like this one. But for now, I will enjoy my weekend of bartending at my day job. I like to think it keeps me humble... while paying my rent :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My first day on the job!

Yesterday was a whirlwind first day as Miss New York. After four hours of sleep, I was in hair and makeup, getting ready for my first live television appearance on the CW 11. I had a blast! I did pretty well for my first interview and loved being on set.

I didn't have any more scheduled appearances after that, so I decided to stop by The All Stars Project. They were have their Open House/ Registration day for their University X classes. Basically, it's free seminars and classes in areas like public speaking, acting, improv, woodshop, and poetry.

For those of you who aren't aware, my personal platform is support the arts and arts education. The arts know no limitations. The self discovery that can come through art is profound. The All Stars understands this very well. It is a non-profit organization that focuses on youth and community development through performance. New York City has numerous cosmopolitan experiences to offer. From museums to Broadway shows, these opportunities are everywhere. It is such experiences that enrich our lives, inspiring us and helping to develop our character. Our poorer communities do not often partake in these art forms. As a result, they are not as developed, and development is the key catalyst in learning. It's what sparks an interest in learning. So, we need to bring artistic experiences to these minorities. The best way to do so is through performance. If a child can get up on stage and perform for an audience, he can perform in other areas of his life as well. He can perform the role of a good student. He can perform his way through a job interview. Performance is a necessary part of life. The All Stars Project is working toward a performance revolution, and I'm proud to be a volunteer.

Yesterday, I arrived just in time to watch the youth programs perform a MLK Day Show titled "Honoring Dr. King with a Performance Revolution." If there is anyone who understood social change, development, appreciation, and performance, it was Mr. King.

There was a surprise guest at this performance, and I was beyond excited to watch Ben Vereen enter the stage. This man is a performance icon. His career has spanned decades and all forms of art. Over ten years ago, I saw him perform in Fosse. It was my first time in a Broadway audience. This man understands the importance of MLK's work, performance art, and our youth's development. He then began to sing an impromptu version of "the greatest love of all", pointing out that this love is found in our youth. That moment made my day. The fact that these kids were sharing the same stage as this performance veteran almost brought me to tears.

The young performers then took the stage performing songs, dances, and excerpts of Dr. King's speeches. You could see how hard each kid practiced, and how invested they were in this performance. Their hard work certainly paid off, because as a watched each number, I became more and more inspired. Offering our youth avenues of healthy self-expression is vital in their success. And I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that provides kids with such opportunities.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Miss New York USA 2013 Pageant!

"You want it. Go get it. Period."

This is a quote from the movie, The Pursuit of Happiness. Will Smith's character says this line to his son during a moment of self doubt. There is something about this quote that has stuck with me since the first time I heard it. It's simple. It's direct. It's confident. I like to think that I go after things in such a way. Which is exactly what I did during the Miss NY USA 2013 pageant this past weekend.

I competed, along with about 120 other girls in swimsuit, evening gown, and interview. My pageant preparation began 8 months ago. During that time, I went to the gym religiously, shopped around for wardrobe, had my friends ask me the most ridiculous interview questions they could think of, volunteered my time with The All Stars Project (which I will probably blog about a lot in the future), and studied current and previous state titleholders. I was in it to win it.

It's amazing what happened to me during that 8 month journey. I became focused, truly focused on one thing. I had something to work towards. I could visualize myself on that stage, feeling so confident and beautiful. Then came progress. I starting seeing results from the gym. I actually enjoyed running. I felt stronger, more fit, and gorgeous than ever. This focus on myself really made me look inside and examine my strengths and weaknesses. And I discovered that I really liked myself. For the first time in my life I was in love with myself, and it's the best relationship I've ever had. 

This past weekend was really a test of my self confidence and self love. There were so many beautiful unique girls vying for the same title. It would have been so easy to start doubting my worth and undue all my hard work. But I just decided to stay positive and continue on with my plan. Like I always say, fake it 'til you make it. 

I left it all out on the stage that weekend. The best feeling is being able to say, I have no regrets. I showed the judges exactly who I am. I'm a theatre girl, with sass. I have a fit legs that carry me up to my fifth floor walk up. I like to entertain and make people laugh. I laugh at myself. 

I am so humbled to be Miss New York USA 2013. New York is full of girls with so many different backgrounds, struggles, stories, and dreams. I am honored to represent the New York woman and ready to bring the Miss USA crown back to this kick ass state!