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Beauty With Attitude

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    Japanese pageantry made history when Ariana Miyamoto, a half-black half-Japanese 21-year-old woman was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2015 on March 12 at Chinzanso Hotel in Tokyo. Miyamoto represented the city of Nagasaki. She will now compete in Miss Universe 2015 pageant whose date and venue are yet to be announced. Miyamoto's victory is significant because in the pageant's 63-year-history, it has never crowned a winner of mixed racial heritage. 


    Photo credit: Miss Universe Japan 2015 Facebook Page


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    #Scam #Alert #UNFW #OvetteRicalde #LuisLavin

    BUCHIS GEORGE / Photo credit: Facebook
        
         Buchis George(born Prince Buchi George) is a Nigerian national in his early 40s who has been promoting himself as the president of Face of  World Organization and founder of more than 30 international beauty pageant and fashion/model events. He also uses the names "Buchi George," "George Buchi Nwabueze," "Prince George Buchi Nwabueze," and "Honorable Nwabueze Buchi George."For the sake of brevity, we will refer to the subject simply as "Buchi" since he uses it more often than "Buchis." Buchi made the pageant headlines nearly two years ago when a Taiwanese woman named Yeh Hai Wei reported to a Taiwanese news outlet that the beauty pageant she had attended called "Face of World 2013" (FWO) in Johannesburg, South Africa was actually a scam used for human trafficking. With the help of her family, Yeh rushed to contact the South African Embassy in Taiwan. Authorities discovered that Buchis has been scamming gullible individuals (contestants as well as national directors) by persuading them to pay franchise or entry fees for pageants or modeling competitions that do not exist. Attempts to retrieve their money back from Buchi has proved to be fruitless. Wei's story was uploaded on YouTube over a year ago:


     

          I hate to sound like a broken record, but for years I have been warning directors to do thorough research about the organizer(s) before sending their contestants to a "new" pageant. The "Face Of  World 2013" scandal should serve as ample warning to naive individuals, but it seems that this warning is falling on deaf ears as we see that Buchi is back in business and reining in new victims. His latest international event: the United Nations Fashion Week  (UNFW) to be held in New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Resort from October 20 to 26, 2015.  Below is a screenshot of Buchi's Facebook "Public Figure" page (his old one - under "George Buchi Nwabueze" - had been deleted). Notice that the new one uses "Buchi George" instead of "Buchis George." Buchi's seems to suffer from delusions of grandeur, as suggested by his questionable "résumé" on his Page Info. For someone who is supposed to be well-educated ("a law graduate student"), he does not mention the educational institutions that he has attended (that is, if ever attended any). And for someone who claims to be a "reformed education advocate," he can't even spell the words "business" and "activist" correctly. 

         One national director took upon herself to do a thorough investigation of Buchi. Carolyn Baldwin Botha, the CEO at Pageants SA (South Africa). When I asked Carolyn if she had met Buchi in person, she recounted to me the following story via e-mail (March 10, 2015):

    "He approached me in 2013 to help him with a competition he was going to do here is SA. After working on the event for quite a while I realized that he was a fraud. I contacted the venues he was advertising and none had any bookings from him, merely only inquiries, so I insisted that before I continue to help he pay me for my time already spent which, of course, I knew by then was not going to happen. Apparently he had gone to see Alex Liu in Singapore about being his Head Judge for the event. When I then exposed him, he blocked me on Facebook which suited me very well as I could then do a few more posts about him. I tried to contact all the contestants to warn them not to come to SA and that I believed it would be a scam, however a few did come. I received a frantic call from the contestants and some directors asking me to go and rescue the contestants as they were being held 'captive' in some grimy hotel in the worst possible area in SA - Hillbrow. I do not know of any South African that actually even ventures to drive within 500 meters of the area and it is crawling with illegal immigrants, drugs, prostitutes and everything that no right-minded person would be involved in. I gave the people the police telephone number and from what I can gather they managed to escape to the police station and George was arrested. I have no idea what happened after then as I believe that his Facebook page was silent for many months; however, I did notice that he has again started his con as someone emailed me to ask about him. Of course. I exposed him but more I cannot do."

         Carolyn had posted several warnings about Buchi on her Facebook page beginning in November 2013: 




         Besides Carolyn, other Facebook users also lambasted Buchi with scathing remarks of their own. This one from "Cindy James" warns readers of another fake event called "Global Fashion Week & Awards" that was supposed to take place in Abuja, Nigeria on August 2014. It never did. The poster also suggests that Buchi is a supplier of foreign female sex slaves to the Islamic Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram:

     
    - - - - -

         Nigerian Bola Victoria Harpprecht (BVictoria BV), founder of Diversity Culture International pageant, rebukes her compatriot in this posting from September 2014 and shares the link to an exposé published by Missosology:

    - - - - -
         A Filipino pageant fan, Marie Anne Ayala Michavez, posted a warning about Buchi's sinister intentions while referring to "Face of World 2014" that was supposed to take place in Manila, Philippines on December 2014 (which, of course, never did):


         Buchi promoted the Face of World 2014 pageant by posting this banner that only announced the title, year and location of the event. One could only assume that it dealt with a female pageant:



         But in the second one,  posted by Buchis's now former associate IPEN (International Professional Entertainment Network), run by Edgar Sulit in Toronto, Canada, it advertises the exact dates, the location (Manila), and that five Mister titles would be awarded. No indication of titles for females:


         How exactly did Edgar Sulit get involved with Buchi? Enter Ovette Ricalde (real name: Lamberto Ricalde) a Filipino who passes himself as the "managing director, international pageant director, and pageant consultant" at MegaStar Production based in the Philippines. Ovette himself had engaged in some shady business in the past (and continues to do so). He has a long history of "crowning" winners who can afford to pay their own way to their respective pageants. For example, he sent a young woman by the name of Princess Ramos to Miss Globe International 2014 in Azerbaijan, but it was Princess herself who paid for her own airfare and the franchise fee. However, the Philippine delegate to the 2014 Face of Beauty International pageant held in Taiwan last November - a deaf-mute teenage girl from a poor family named Princess Alanis Pura - could not compete because she could not afford the airfare. Rumor has it that the only reason Ovette had chosen her as the representative was to gain publicity by exploiting her handicap.  


    On his Facebook page, Ovette Ricalde promotes himself as the "Mother Of All Pageants" because he believes he owns the most number of pageant franchises in the Philippines.
       
          Edgar had forwarded to me an exchange of e-mails between Buchi and Ovette (courtesy copies had been sent to Edgar by Buchi as well). Edgar also forwarded to me all pertinent documentation referencing his professional relationship with Buchi. The correspondence between the three men began in July 2014. Here's a summary of the content of each e-mail:

    June 9, 2014 - Edgar sends Buchi a copy of a letter written by Edgar  - dated June 9, 2014 - and addressed to the Canadian Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria requesting the Embassy to secure a Canadian visitor’s visa for Buchi so he could be the "special guest" and "celebrity judge" at the 2014 Mister Global Tourism Canada and 2014 Miss United Continents Canada to be held at St. Cyril and Methody Hall in Toronto on  July 12, 2014.

    July 18, 2014 - Buchi writes to Ovette inviting him "to be part of 2014 Mister Global Tourism and Face of World pageant in Manila, Philippines."(Side note: Buchi's English is rather mediocre with plenty of misspelled words, faulty syntax and run-on sentences, so for the benefit of clarity, I have purposely edited and corrected his written English). Buchi then explains his side of the story (what exactly happened in South Africa).


    July 21, 2014 - Buchi sends a letter (in JPEG format) to Edgar officially appointing him as Face of World Organization's  "vice-president of administrations and franchising." Edgar's responsibility would be to lead FWO's administration office in Canada, to be the "vice-global coordinator" of Global Family Funds (the charity and humanitarian arm of FWO), and that he would be entitled to "25% of proceeds of profits" of all of FWO's business dealings.


    July 23, 2014 - Ovette proposes to Buchi that if Buchi wants to clear his name, he should conduct a media press conference and invite pageant sites like Critical Beauty, Missosology, OPMB Worldwide, Philippines Pageants and Sash Factor, plus Prime Lens Photography - to cover the conference. Ovette requires Buchi to pay him an honorarium for the amount of "$200 x 6 people = $1200" (I assume that a representative for each pageant site as well as the Prime Lens photographer would be paid $200 just for showing up at the press conference, so that would make 6 people in total attendance). Ovette also requires Buchi to pay $600 for a luncheon for 20 people and to send his public statement to be distributed to the media. Ovette ends the e-mail by providing detail of his bank account to Buchi (should Buchi decide to accept Ovette's proposal, then he would wire money directly to O
    vette 's bank account).  (***Buchi failed to send any money to Ovette ; therefore, the press conference never materialized.)

    August 14, 2014 - Buchi asks Edgar to send him a budget proposal. Buchi promises Edgar that he will send money to pay for all the expenses. Edgar advises Buchi that he will reimburse him after the pageant in Toronto.


    August 18, 2014 - Edgar sends Buchi  a copy of the agreement between Edgar's company (IPEN) and Westin Harbour Castle Toronto where the pageant would be held.


    August 20. 2014 - Edgar sends his bank account information to Buchi. (***Edgar claims that he never received a penny from Buchi and that he had already spent so much money from his own pocket.)


    September 2, 2014 - Edgar sends two documents to Buchi: 1) a contract ("Memorandum of Agreement") between his company (IPEN) and Buchi's (FWO). The contract lays out the respective obligations of each party; and 2) a copy of a letter written by Edgar - dated September 1, 2014 - and addressed to the Canadian Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria requesting the Embassy to secure a Canadian visitor’s visa for Buchi so he could be the "special guest of honour" at the Toronto pageant.


         Buchi failed in fulfilling his obligations to Edgar, which prompted Edgar to ask Buchi to take down all of Edgar's contact information from Buchi's multiple fake pageant websites, and to end all communications with him. That was two months ago. Meanwhile, Buchi blocked Edgar on Facebook and continues to promote fake events. His latest one is the UNFW event.




          Buchi - along with his equally shady Filipino associate Ovette Ricalde - are currently promoting the UNFW event on social network. Now that Edgar is out of the picture, Buchi and Ovette found another potential benefactor to help them coordinate the event in the United States. Enter Danny Pagsambugan, the founding president of Maharlikang Pilipino USA (MPU) which used to produce fashion shows and pageants for the Filipino community in the East Coast. Danny started communicating with Buchi via Ovette last December 2014. Danny met Ovette in Manila during the last week of January 2015; the two struck a friendship. Danny is undoubtedly one of the dearest people I know in the pageant industry; he is also kind, generous, and honest and he is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, so when the opportunity arose for Ovette to find someone from America to help him organize the UNFW event, he approached Danny who subsequently obliged. A third person, Collins Sam Guvai, a citizen of Kenya who refers to himself as the "executive board secretary at United Nations Fashion Week-UNFW" on his Facebook page, is also involved in the running of the event. But since neither Buchi nor Collins has any registered business in the United States, Danny took the liberty to register the event under his name. Danny also wrote letters to the U.S. embassies in Nigeria and Kenya requesting them to issue a visitor's visa for Buchi and Collins respectively so they could attend the event in New York City.  

         An agreement between Danny's company, MPU (Maharlikang Pilipino USA) and Buchi's FWO (Face of World Organization) was drafted on January 22, 2015; the agreement stated that MPU would be the host and events partner and would be responsible for the following: securing the venue; hiring professional models, glam squad, dressers to assist the models, ushers, photographer, videographer, cleaning crew; providing dressing and styling space, racks and clothes hangers; creating a webpage with thumbnail photos from the show; and publishing program books and press release. It was also agreed that FWO would fund the entire project, and that net sales and profit from the project would be divided in this manner: 70% to MPU and 30% to FWO. Danny signed the agreement, but Buchi did not - which made Danny suspicious of Buchi's intentions. On January 24, 2015, Danny posted on his Facebook page that the UNFW event "has been cancelled" and that he does "not want to deal with them anymore" (them meaning Buchi, Collins and Ovette). Danny officially cut ties with the trio on February 2015.

         With Danny out of the picture, Buchi, Collins and Ovette are currently promoting UNFW as a week-long project "designed as a glamorous celebration of artistry honoring excellence in fashion" featuring fashion designers from all over the world, as well as consisting of supermodel search, a gala ball, a live charity concert, awards, and other fashion-related events.  Originally, it was scheduled to be held from August 24 to 29 at the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, but now it has been changed from October 20 to 26, 2015. A skeptical Danny met with the Waldorf Astoria events executive on March 11, 2015 who informed him, sure enough, that the October dates have not been secured for the event and that the publicity that Buchi and his accomplices have been posting on social media is completely false.


         How amusing is the fake document below signed by Buchi granting Ovette the license as the national director for the Philippines and as the regional director for Asia? Hardly proofread - and undated. And one wonders who really occupies the space at 550 St Amable Street, Suite 407, Quebec, Canada:



         And how laughable is this amateurish logo that infringes on the iconic logo of the United Nations Organization featuring a couple of olive branches?

          
         Another accomplice, Luis Lavin, is hosting the Mexican edition of UNFW in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from June 24 to 28, 2015:




           On Twitter, the event is advertised as being managed by "Lavin & Asociados" ("Lavin & Associates"):




          I contacted the United Nations Organization via e-mail to inquire if the UNFW event is sanctioned and authorized by UNO, but I have not yet received any response. Though I have a feeling that I will never get a response because UNO has far more important things to do than to waste precious time investigating a UNQ (United Network of Quacks).  Has the UNO actually sponsored or organized fashion events in the past? A simple Google search generated several results:


    UN teams up with fashion industry to fight poverty (Published by the UN News Centre on June 28, 2012. In collaboration with the Fashion for Development Initiative founded by former Bangladesh-born international model, Bibi Russell).

    Fashion finds inspiration at the United Nations (Published by the United Nations Blog on January 8, 2014. Attended by Project Runway All Stars host Alyssa Milano and designer Isaac Mizrahi.)

    The United Nations had a fashion show, and it was actually good (Published by Quartz.com on September 24, 2014. The show took place at the UN Headquarters in New York City.)

    Fashion models strut in United Nations debate chambers (Published by CNN on November 11, 2014. Watch a video of models walk the runway at the UN.)

    The United Nations hosts fashion show for Palestinian-Italian designer Jamal Taslaq(Published on November 12, 2014 by Bustle.com)

          Notice that these fashion shows actually took place at the UN Headquarters, and not at some hotel in New York City. So if UN could deliver fashion shows at its headquarters, why would it hold an October 2015 fashion week at an event space that is not affiliated with the organization? Buyer, beware!

    By Rafa Delfin, March 14, 2015





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  • 03/15/15--09:50: Miss Ecuador 2015



  • Francesca Cipriani, 21, representing the city of Guayaquil, was crowned Miss Ecuador 2015 at the Simon Bolivar Convention Center in Guayaquil on March 14. She will now compete in Miss Universe 2015 whose date and venue are still to be confirmed.  Daniela Armijos was the first runner-up and she will compete in Miss World 2015. 






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    New Philippine queens for 2015 were crowned last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila. The top winner, Pia Wurtzbach, 25, was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2015 and will compete in the next edition of Miss Universe. In the photo above, she is crowned by her predecessor Mary Jane Lastimosa. This year marks Wurtzbach's third try for the crown. 


    The remaining top 7 include (from left to right): 2nd Runner-up Kimverlyn Suiza, Bb. Pilipinas Tourism 2015 Ann Lorraine Colis, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2015 Christi Lynn McGarry, Wurtzbach, Bb. Pilipinas International 2015 Janicel Lubina, and 1st Runner-Up Hannah Sison

    Fascinating data: McGarry had already competed in Miss Intercontinental 2010 where she placed in the top 15. It would be interesting to see if World Beauty Organization, the producers of Miss Intercontinental, will allow her to compete again. If not, then would BPCI swap her title with another girl? No international pageant has ever allowed a former contestant to compete again, so there is always a first! 

    Wurtzbach wears an elaborate costume designed by Albert Andrada during the national costume competition of Binibining Pilipinas 2015 pageant a week earlier. 


     


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     María Alejandra Serrano Sabogal, 21, of Colombia was crowned 2015 Miss Summer International in José Consuegra Higgins Theater of the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Baranquilla, Colombia on March 20. She was crowned by Daniella Álvarez, who was Miss Colombia 2011 and competed in MU 2012, Her court includes the delegates representing United States Latina (1st runner-up), Brazil (2nd runner-up), Athena Catriz of the Philippines (3rd runner-up), and Bolivia (4th runner-up). 


    The pageant's goal is to highlight and promote tourist destinations in the world and choose the prettiest lady summer. Through the beauty of each representative, the most important sites in each country, landscapes, gastronomy, beaches and cultural traditions is promoted. Miss Summer International has a registered office in Bulgaria and the franchise was obtained by Venezuela in 2011 and currently in Colombia in order to position this prestigious event in Latin America.


    Source: El Universal, Colombia, 3/21/2015


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    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.


         My friends and family have called me loyal, studious and hysterically funny!

    HAVE YOU SEEN "50 SHADES OF GREY?" IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WOULD YOU SEE IT?

         I have. I wanted to see what all the hype was about (and be ready to answer questions like this!).  Everyone can make their own choice to see the movie or not.  However, it wasn't my cup of tea!

    NAME THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

         Harm someone intentionally, lie, be a bully.

    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES/ WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Sure.  They are beautiful and I have lots of them, but oh how wonderful not to have your feet hurt! 

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I do.  Our society now does not usually have the luxury of having parents at home.  That being said, children come into contact with a lot of people like caregivers, coaches, teachers, and other family members.  If they don’t know the difference, then what could have been a warning or a feeling, won’t turn out to be a good situation.  I was the subject of this very situation with a family member when I was 13 years old.  Because I had the knowledge and the tools, I was not a victim.

    BENIZO PHOTOGRAPHY

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

         I would really like to have a job in public relations or marketing.  I love to travel and I am interested in working for the airlines.

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

         I would say, "I'm sorry that you feel that way, but everyone here had the same chance.  I worked hard for this and the judges saw that in competition."

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         It does matter what you look like.  I do not think you have to have an endless amount of money to buy clothes to be attractive.  Your nature and the way you present yourself define all that.  I think that if you are well-groomed with a pleasant disposition, that is what is important. 

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN?

         Again, I think it’s about choices.  If you want to do it, then have it done.  If you don’t, then don’t. 




    WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT AMERICA FACES?

         Balancing our budget and becoming completely self sufficient.  Somehow, someway, we need to pay back our debt and refrain from outsourcing as much as possible.

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

         Democracy and the idea that people have the power to create change.

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?

         No, as long as they are capable of doing the job.  The government has already increased the retirement age.

    WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH OLDER PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM ALZHEIMER'S AND OTHER LIFE-THREATENING DISEASES WHERE THEY CAN'T TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES?

         We have had that issue in our family.  The disease and the amount of care is the determining factor.  Sometimes, you have to have professional people to help.  There is no shame in that.  More importantly, what matters is that they are cared for with grace and dignity. 

    HOW SHOULD THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPOND TO THE THREAT OF ISIS?

         Our elected commander-in-chief and government make those decisions.  Personally, I am heartbroken and saddened by the loss of life and the impending terror.



    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I was required to take another language in both high school and college. I thought it was a great learning opportunity.  The United States is a country of immigrants and gives students from different backgrounds an opportunity to communicate better.   

    PEOPLE SAY THAT MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?

         Honestly, I have never thought about it.  If you are, then you are.  I don’t know how you could make a blanket statement about that one way or another.  I don’t believe in discrimination or labeling people at any level.  

    WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF AN ETHICAL PERSON?

         Someone with a good character and behaves as such. 

    CAN A PERSON WHO WAS BORN A MALE, BUT WHO HAS A SEX REASSIGNMENT TO BECOME FEMALE, BE TRULY A FEMALE IN YOUR OPINION?

         I do think that sometimes people are trapped in a situation that they may not like.  In reference to the plastic surgery issue, same thing, personal choices.  I hesitateto make judgments on people unless I have walked a mile in their shoes.

    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

         I try not to junk up my accounts.  If is something I am doing for the greater good or just something fun, I’ll post it.  I have so much more that I like to do other than doing the social media thing ALL the time.

    WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION?

         Affirmative action was voted into law to “balance” the employment equity.  I am not sure that has been done and I am not sure the “balance” exists as it was intended to do.

    COMPARED TO THE 1950s-1970s, WOMEN TODAY HAVE MORE OPTIONS IN TERMS OF THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES AND PERSONAL LIVES. DESPITE THESE OPTIONS, WHY DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE MISS USA?

         For that very reason!  To me, Miss USA is a personal and professional dream.  I've worked hard for many years toward this goal and believe it would, without a doubt, allow me to network my way to bigger, professional platforms.




    FollowAlexis on Instagram



    and Twitter!


    Thank you, Alexis, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         Kind, cheerful and sassy!

    IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?


         I would come back as a dog! My family rescued a beautiful gray Havanese with big brown eyes that could melt your heart. We absolutely adore her and she brings so much happiness to our family. I would love to bring that same happiness to another family!

    NAME THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

         I would never intentionally hurt someone, wear real fur or stop eating carbs because let's be real:  are the best!

    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Yes and no, I don’t need to have designer shoes in my life even though my Louboutins are my favorite; however, I believe that with the right shoes a woman can do anything, so GOOD shoes are very important!

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I do think that Sexuality Education should be taught in schools. If not, kids are more likely to experiment without knowing the consequences, so with the proper knowledge parents can help their kids make the right decisions. But I do understand why some may not want this in schools as well.

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

         Other than hopefully winning Miss USA 2015 (fingers crossed), I would like to go back to school and get my Master's degree in Psychology from Harvard, take a summer to travel across the country and visit various landmarks and maybe discover a little gem of my own and finally, give back more. I am very involved with philanthropy and one of my greatest passions is working toward suicide prevention so I would like to continue to promote the Samaritans suicide prevention hotline. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll even be on the Oscars red carpet!

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY CREATIVE SPARKS IMAGERY

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

         She has the right to her own opinion; however she wasn’t there through every part of competition and might not know me well enough if she feels that way.

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         I think physical appearance is important to each individual; someone can be a size 0 or 12 but as long as he/she is happy and confident with themselves, that's all that really matters.

    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN).


         While I love a guy who’s tall and handsome, my dream man is a guy who knows how to treat me well. Someone who is there for me and supports my dreams and ambitions and pushes me to be better.


    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN?
              
         I do think it sets a negative example for young women. Venezuelan women are absolutely stunning and I understand that they want to send a “perfect” representative to Miss Universe; however, it sends the message to women that you need to change yourself somehow to be perfect in order to win a pageant. Personally, I believe Miss Universe is looking for someone natural who can represent woman all over the world and you don’t need to alter yourself to be that girl.

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY FADIL BERISHA

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?
     

         This is truly the land of opportunity! As someone who came from another country (Albania) with nothing, I used the resources that were provided to me to make something of myself. Anyone can make something of themselves here in the USA!


    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?

         I don’t think so, if someone is healthy enough and chooses to work, they should be able to use their skills to benefit themselves and others.


    IF SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY WAS TERMINALLY ILL AND IN AGONY AND ASKED YOUR TO HELP THEM DIE, HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE IT?


         Naturally, I would be devastated; however, if someone I loved was struggling and in pain with no cure, it would take everything in me to help them make that decision, but I would do it to put the person I love at ease and not force them to suffer anymore. I would do it out of love.


    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I do support those laws. America is a melting pot with people who speak various languages like myself. Teaching kids a difference language will make them smarter, powerful and more cultured since they will have the ability to communicate from people from around the world.


    PEOPLE SAY THAT MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?

         Yes, I would agree that most pageant contestants are religious. There is a certain amount of faith that goes into competing. A lot of the girls who compete in pageants believe there is a higher power watching over them and helping them through the process. For me personally, prayer and faith makes me feel calm and more confident on the inside.



    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

         I think they would learn that I am a very passionate and dedicated person. I try to inspire people with my posts as well as motivate them. I want them to know they can be whatever they want to be!


    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

           
         Personally, I have gained a lot of confidence and public speaking skills. I love to volunteer and am a befriender on the Samaritans suicide prevention hotline, so to use the skills that I have learned and give back by promoting charities is a dream for me.


    WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION?

         I agree with affirmative action. I think everyone should have the same opportunities for success regardless of their race, sex, or religious views. Equality is what will make us a great country.


    SOME STATES STILL PRACTICE THE DEATH PENALTY AS PUNISHMENT FOR HORRENDOUS CRIMES. DO YOU THINK THAT IT SHOULD BE ABOLISHED? WHY OR WHY NOT?


         After the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013, the love for my city and people makes me say that we should keep it, but at the same time I understand it is cruel and it is best to keep those who commit terrible crimes behind bars so they never hurt another person again.


    COMPARED TO THE 1950s-1970s, WOMEN TODAY HAVE MORE OPTIONS IN TERMS OF THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES AND PERSONAL LIVES. DESPITE THESE OPTIONS, WHY DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE MISS USA?

           For me being Miss USA is about the message I can spread. I came to the United States from Albania at the age of 5 and have been tackling the American dream ever since. Winning Miss USA shows people all over the world that no matter who you are or where you come from you too can have the American dream and aspire to be whatever you want as long as you work hard and stay true to yourself.






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    Thank you, Polikseni, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!

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    Instead of celebrating her crown, Ariana Miyamoto is already finding the need to defend it.  
    Japan's newest Miss Universe contestant broke barriers when she was recently chosen to represent her country. But because the 20-year-old is the daughter of a Japanese woman and an African-American man from the United States, some are questioning whether she is Japanese enough to hold the title.
    According to Japanese websites, comments on Twitter ranged from, "Is it okay to select a hafu to represent Japan?" to "Because this is Miss Universe Japan, don't you think hafu are a no-no.""Hafu" (from "half") is a Japanese term used to refer to someone who is biracial. 
    In an interview with press, Miyamoto insisted that while she doesn't "look Japanese" on the outside, on the inside, there are many Japanese things about her.
    In addition to being born and raised Nagasaki, the young adult also is a Japanese citizen who speaks the language fluently.
    While some critics have been vocal about their hopes of having another contestant take her spot, most have shown their support for the newly crowned beauty queen.
    On GirlsChannel, a popular site that allows readers to vote on comments, some posts suggest residents were satisfied with the choice simply because she was a citizen who loves her country. "Even if you are hafu, if you have Japanese citizenship, then you're Japanese," one commenter shared.
    While waiting for the Miss Universe completion to be held next January, Miyamoto is just trying to keep her eyes on the prize and remain focused on representing her country in the best way possible.  "The world competition is going to be tough," she told Rocket News 24. "But I'll believe in myself and continue doing my best." 
    The Miss Universe Organization added in a statement to E! News, "We congratulate her on her win and we look forward to having her be a part of the next Miss Universe Pageant!"

    Source: Eonline.com, March 23, 2015

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    PHOTO BY ND PHOTOGRAPHY


    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         Passionate, genuine, charismatic!

    NAME THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

         1. I will never skydive because I am terrified of heights. 
         2. I would never pass judgment on anyone before I got the chance to know them. Our society is quick to pass judgment on one another instead of encouraging each other, sometimes we pull each other down. This is something I would never do to someone else.
    3.  I would and never will be self-centered. I live by this scripture: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition rather in humility value others above yourself.”


    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?


          Living without designer shoes would be easy for me. I was raised in a family of nine and it was rare to find anything designer in our house. I wore hand me downs and very affordable items! This taught me that it doesnt matter what you wear, but how you wear it. A person can still be extremely chic whether theyre wearing name brand or not! Its all about confidence in your own skin and clothing.

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         Yes, I do believe sexual education should be a part of elementary school curriculum in American schools. It is important to educate our youth; it would be beneficial to them if schools started to introduce a non-threatening sexuality education option as part of the curriculum, if approved by the guardian of each student.

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

          In the next five years, I plan to expand my nonprofit, Girls2Girls, to several states. This will provide positive community leaders to young girls ages 8-15. I plan to be heavily involved with my community, speaking to thousands of youth and encouraging them to dream big and never give up.  I plan to finish my degree in business and graduate with honors. I hope to expand my jewelry business, Intricate Designs. I plan to pursue my dreams of acting and modeling as well.



    PHOTO BY PAGEANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

          I would explain to her that, whether we believe someone deserves something or not, everyone has his or her own destiny and mine was to become Miss USA. If I were to win the title of Miss USA, I would understand that everyone will have opinions, but I would be incredibly proud of myself and would not let the naysayers affect my positive attitude.

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

             I believe it is important to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of our bodies because we only get one. Physical appearance should reflect a healthy mind and body, which can mean many different things. But I feel that you cannot base beauty solely on physical appearance because it is much deeper than that.


    DO YOU THINK THAT OUR CULTURE IS TOO PREOCCUPIED WITH BEAUTY? HOW COULD WE CHANGE THAT?


         I do believe that our culture rewards and perpetuates narcissism. The media presents unrealistic overly photo-shopped images of women and causes regular people to feel they must live up to unrealistic standards by any means necessary. We have to teach the future generation that beauty is not defined by what you see in magazines. 

         I believe we can start changing this perception of beauty by encouraging people to focus on being involved in their communities and speaking with young women about how they define beauty, while explaining to them that the images in the media are far from real.When people start to give back, they will realize that life is about so much more than a good selfie.

    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN).


         My dream man is funny, honest and secure with himself. I love to laugh so if they take themselves too seriously and dont have a sense of humor, it will not work out.


    IF YOU COULD GO ON A BLIND DATE WITH ANY MAN (OR WOMAN) IN THE WORLD, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
              
         I have a huge crush on the actor Michael B. Jordan. He is handsome and genuine and has an amazing personality. I would melt if I ever got to meet him, let alone go on a blind date.





    IF YOU HAD TO BE ANOTHER WOMAN FOR ONE WEEK, WHICH WOMAN WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE AND WHY?

          I would choose to be our first lady, Michelle Obama; her initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles in young people are something I truly believe in and her interest in our future leaders has always inspired me.


    HAVE YOU EVER HAD COSMETIC SURGERY OR ANY OTHER ALTERATION TO YOUR APPEARANCE?


    No, what you see is what you get! 

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN?

         I think self-acceptance is most important and is a message we should be promoting. You have to love yourself and exude confidence. A confident and natural woman is far more appealing than manufactured beauty.  I always speak to young woman about self-esteem and how it all starts with accepting your flaws and knowing you are truly beautiful from the inside out. 

    WHY DO YOU FEEL THERE IS SO MUCH ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT AROUND THE WORLD TODAY?

          I believe people have a lot of false stereotypes about America. When I meet different people from all over the world they always say I am nothing like they thought. Each country has its own stereotypes and it’s about breaking down these barriers to show people that America is truly the greatest country in the world.

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?
           I am proud to be in the land of opportunity and freedom. I am proud that the USA is constantly evolving to become a stronger, greater, and a more unified country. We are leaders in technology and in the military and we truly use our power to help struggling and underdeveloped countries.


    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?

          I believe success is defined in being able to do what you love everyday. Whenyou have a career you love, it is no longer work, but fulfilling. So I don't think anyone should be told when he or she has to stop feeling fulfilled.  We should all work as hard as possible and achieve as much as we can while we have the time and the will.


    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I encourage every young person to take advantage of the free language education they receive while in school. Being a bilingual communicator has huge advantages in the marketplace, workforce, and in day-to-day interactions. I support the implementation of this into American schools because it can only benefit the children of our future.


    PEOPLE SAY THAT MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?

          I had never heard that before and I dont necessarily agree or disagree. I truly believe that there are so many different types of contestants in the pageant world and thats what makes pageantry so special. You can be successful in any pageant system, despite your religion!





    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

          My social media accounts show a young, Christian woman that loves her family more than anything.  It also reflects an altruistic businesswoman who started her own non-profit Girls2Girls. Lastly, it shows someone who is down to earth, outgoing, and fun.


    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

             
              My life has completely changed since starting pageantry. Pageantry has given me the confidence to overcome so many fears, such as speaking in front of large crowds. I was inspired to start my own non-profit organization through my platform of mentorship because of pageantry.  Competing has changed my life for the better and pushed me to become the best possible version of myself and for that I am thankful.




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    Thank you, Renee, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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  • 03/25/15--17:51: Miss USA 2015 Interviews
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    PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDUARDO GARCIA


    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         Three adjectives my friends have used to describe me are, energetic, genuine and authentic! Energetic because as long as they can remember, I have been working to help my family. I was never one to sit in front of the television after school.  I was the one working three different jobs. Genuine because whenever someone calls me I have been there at anytime of the day and they know I will always be there! Perhaps not always physically but over the phone, through the camera, or in spirit - I will be there to help in any way possible. Authentic because I have the compassion and capacity to create, overcome, love, endure, and transform suffering into living.

    IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?

         If I had the choice of returning as any animal, my choice would be a dove. Why? A dove symbolizes peace, love, and purity. Purity means to me containing innocence and the genuine belief that everything is still good. The white symbolizes heaven and the chance for a grand life after death. 


    SHOULD ABORTION BE BANNED IN THE CASES OF WOMEN WHO HAVE REPEATED ABORTIONS, BUT CONTINUE NOT TO USE BIRTH CONTROL?

         Personally. I disagree with abortion but I understand if the procedure needs to take place due to extenuating circumstances. Using abortion as a birth control method displays poor judgment and irresponsibility. This behavior makes me question on the type of parent the woman would be. I am against this practice, but under the law women are allowed to practice it.

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

              Yes. I believe that sexual education for children early on is good due to the growing curiosity at younger ages. Sexual activity is beginning at a younger age. It’s best to address this at an earlier time than later.  

         IF YOU HAD TO BE ANOTHER WOMAN FOR ONE WEEK, WHICH WOMAN WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE AND WHY?

              The most inspiring individual I know is my grandmother. My grandmother has undergone so much throughout her life. She found herself alone, with an English barrier in a new country at the age of 27 with four children and a grandchild to support. Honestly, I don’t think anyone would want to be in her shoes for a week but I choose my grandmother because experiencing these encounters would make someone become more appreciative for what they have.

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDUARDO GARCIA

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Physical appearance matters in every situation whether it is in the workplace, first date, marriage etc. If you look good, you feel good. One’s appearance boosts self-confidence and self-esteem.

    DO YOU THINK THAT OUR CULTURE IS TOO PREOCCUPIED WITH BEAUTY? HOW COULD WE CHANGE THAT?

         Yes, I believe our culture is too preoccupied with beauty. We could change that by putting more focus on human values rather than just physical appearance. The notion that every person is not beautiful simply because of one flaw should be disbarred. We should instead be able to discover and appreciate beauty about every person in the world whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic.

    HAVE YOU EVER HAD COSMETIC SURGERY OR ANY OTHER ALTERATION TO YOUR APPEARANCE?

         No, I have never had cosmetic surgery or any alterations to my appearance. 

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN? 

         Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is not only physical but mental and emotional as well. The ongoing promotion of cosmetic surgery stimulates low self- esteem on women who are naturally born in their own unique way. It is a negative example to women because they are advertising that women are not good enough as they are or as whole (internally) because of the constant emphasis of external beauty.

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?   

         No, each and every person is wildly different from one another, from the things we consume, to what we do day to day and even how many hours of sleep we each get a night. Each person has his or her own idea of when and why they can retire for many different variables such as, monetary stability or even old age. I do not think any person who is fit and able to continue on working and succeeding in the operation should be forced to retire solely on the basis of age. 

    WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT AMERICA FACES?

          The greatest challenge that America faces in my opinion would be the consistent corruption within the government which results in the stoppage of progress. When the majority of representatives are out for their next campaign or themselves, headway for many actions become sidelined. Personally, I have seen this up close in Rhode Island. Just this year the house speaker, an official state representative and a member of city hall were arrested on charges of misappropriation of campaign funds for personal use. 

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDUARDO GARCIA

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

               I feel most proud that the United States of America is a country that continues to thrive through harsh political, economic, and global warfare that takes place. I believe that the United States of America prospers during any situation it comes face to face with, positive or negative, and has done so on the foundation it was laid.  The United States has been able to flourish through and overcome obstacles such as the industrial revolution, countless peace treaties and negotiations with allied countries as well as endured world wars along the way. The fact that our country still stands strong and raises the America flag to the top of the flagpole everyday speaks louder than any person could scream.

    WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PORNOGRAPHY AND RAPE? 

               I believe there is zero correlation between pornography and rape. In pornography one decides to participate and act. In the case of rape, an individual is forced to perform without consent.  

    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

              Yes, I support laws requiring mandatory bilingual education for all students in American schools. This would permit our population to be prepared globally - we are the only Western country that does not learn more than one language, which puts us at a disadvantage globally.

               I support this because it allows further education that is the pinnacle for each student in regards to their future work and social environment. In addition, this would allocate for better communication with a large and growing majority of people in the United States and the world. 

    HOW SHOULD THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPOND TO THE THREAT OF ISIS?  

              The US government must respond to ISIS in some way, shape or form. The problem is not so simple where there is a lone solution. These militants are not in one central location, they are spreading further as they invade more areas of the Middle East. Through using technology like Twitter and scaring populations they were able to take over towns and gain supporters faster than analysts ever predicted. ISIS’ methods are unorthodox and we as the United States are entering an extremely steep learning curve dealing with this new type of guerrilla warfare that ISIS has created. The United States and the UN are working together to quell and subdue the egregious dilemma that is occurring across the Atlantic and once and for all to regain stability and peace in that region. 





    VIRTUALLY ALL TERRORIST ATTACKS SINCE 9/11 HAVE BEEN COMMITTED BY MUSLIMS WHO JUSTIFY THEIR TERRORISM BY QUOTING VIOLENT ACTS FROM THE KORAN. THIS SUGGESTS THAT ISLAM MAY NOT BE A RELIGION OF PEACE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?  

               My thoughts on Muslims committing terrorist attacks and justifying their reasoning by quoting the Koran are absolutely unreasonable. Many cults quote from the Bible for death, specified ways of living, or simply hate against another faith or group of people who are different and this is comparable in a way of majority. The majority of people who follow the path are not crazy extremist in any way, shape or form; most are the exact opposite and are very accepting. This is the same for the majority of followers of the Islamic faith. Yes, the word Islam directly translates to peace and only a small majority of Islamic followers are extremist and outwardly pushing these unspeakable beliefs and actions upon the world. 

    SOME STATES STILL PRACTICE THE DEATH PENALTY AS PUNISHMENT FOR HORRENDOUS CRIMES. DO YOU THINK THAT IT SHOULD BE ABOLISHED? WHY OR WHY NOT?

          I think the death penalty should be abolished. No man has the right to take away another man’s life. In addition, there have been several cases where the state has ended the life of an innocent person.

    WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF AN ETHICAL PERSON?

             
          My definition of an ethical person is one who carries good manners, values, and has respect for everything in the world. One who is open, understanding and empathetic.

    CAN A PERSON WHO WAS BORN A MALE, BUT WHO HAS A SEX REASSIGNMENT TO BECOME FEMALE, BE TRULY A FEMALE IN YOUR OPINION?

         A person who is born male and has a sexual reassignment to become female is not truly a female due to biological reasons. I respect the decision if someone wants to change their sex, but they must accept the fact that human biology is irreversible, at least in this day and age. 

    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

         I have gained the opportunity to network with many professional and talented people who have opened doors for me in my journey. I have learned more about myself in regards to what I am capable of, my likes and dislikes.  





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    Thank you, Anea, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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    PHOTOGRAPHY BY FADIL BERISHA


    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         Genuine. Confident. Loving.

    IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?

        I would come back as a lioness because they are strong and nurturing.


    HAVE YOU SEEN "50 SHADES OF GREY?" IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WOULD YOU SEE IT?

          I have not seen it, but I would consider seeing it only after reading the book. Many people have told me it was a great book and I love to read!

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I do think that sexuality education should be a part of the curriculum in American schools. Whether it is in elementary or middle school, I think it's important for young people to be educated on topics that affect them personally; it allows them to make better and more informed decisions in life. 

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

               Besides my goal of becoming Miss USA, I hope to begin my career in the fashion industry. I also hope to begin to collect the necessary resources and knowledge that I need to start my own fashion brand. Lastly, I would love to further my modeling career within the next 5 years.

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

         Although I would never say I deserve the crown, I would tell her that she is entitled to her own opinion, and I respect that. But I would also tell her that I work very hard to achieve my goals and that is something I am extremely proud of.

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAGEANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         I do believe physical appearance is important because everyone should feel comfortable in his or her own skin. Feeling good about the way you look helps you feel and act more confident. That is why I think it's healthy to put some importance on physical appearance because it pushes you to be fit, live a healthier lifestyle, and also encourages you to dress in a way that makes you feel the most beautiful.

    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN). 

         My dream man is someone who is respectful, loyal, honest, and trustworthy. Someone who can make me laugh and knows how to cheer me up when I am feeling down. My dream man is someone who can be my other half- someone who is supportive and who would love me unconditionally, without being afraid to show it.

    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Designer shoes are not a necessity so I would say that I could definitely live without them. But as a person who loves fashion, I would have to mention that I do love shoes!  

    HAVE YOU EVER HAD COSMETIC SURGERY OR ANY OTHER ALTERATION TO YOUR APPEARANCE?

         I personally have not had any cosmetic surgery or any other alteration to my appearance. Although I have not had anything changed or enhanced, I am not against it. I think that if people want to change something to feel more confident in the way they look, and that makes them happy, then I am completely okay with that.



    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

          I am most proud of the freedom and opportunities we have as Americans here in the USA. We take our freedom and these opportunities for granted sometimes but these are things that people from all over the world dream about having.

    WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PORNOGRAPHY AND RAPE? 

         I wouldn’t necessarily say that pornography leads to rape, but I do believe that pornography has the potential to give people the wrong message.

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?   

         I do not think there should be a certain age when people are forced to retire. I think if someone feels strong and healthy enough to continue working, then they should do so. I believe that keeping busy and doing what you love keeps you living a longer and happier life.

    VIRTUALLY ALL TERRORIST ATTACKS SINCE 9/11 HAVE BEEN COMMITTED BY MUSLIMS WHO JUSTIFY THEIR TERRORISM BY QUOTING VIOLENT ACTS FROM THE KORAN. THIS SUGGESTS THAT ISLAM MAY NOT BE A RELIGION OF PEACE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? 

         I believe that it is wrong to judge an entire religion based on how some followers choose to practice it. Anything can be read and interpreted in multiple ways, depending on your personal beliefs. I can see how people would believe that Islam is not a religion of peace after some of the terrorist attacks that have occurred, but I do not believe it is fair to judge an entire religion or group of people based on how some individuals have chosen to act. Overall, I think it is unfortunate that people find the need commit acts of terrorism, no matter what their justification might be.


    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         I completely support laws that require mandatory bilingual education for all students in American schools. I think languages are great and help enrich your life. They allow you to communicate with more people and connect with them on a personal level. Learning another language is also good for the brain! I myself love languages; I am trilingual, speaking English, Spanish, and Italian. I would love to continue to learn more!
      
    PEOPLE SAY THAT MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?

         I believe that most pageant contestants are spiritual in some way. Pageant contestants are very dedicated, motivated, inspired, and driven. Therefore, having something to believe in helps most pageant girls stay focused on their goals.
      
    WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF AN ETHICAL PERSON?

         My definition of an ethical person is someone who knows right from wrong and chooses to do the right thing in any given situation.

    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

         From viewing my social network accounts, a potential employer would learn that I am an overall positive and happy person. They would also learn that I love to travel, meet new people, and visit new places. They would also learn that I love to smile!
      
    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

         Competing in pageants is truly empowering. You grow as an individual after going through each competition. During the process, you learn so much about yourself and you learn how to best present who you are to society. You build up confidence, poise, and strong communication skills. Competing in pageants helps you set goals and it challenges you to be the best version of yourself.

    COMPARED TO THE 1950s-1970s, WOMEN TODAY HAVE MORE OPTIONS IN TERMS OF THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES AND PERSONAL LIVES. DESPITE THESE OPTIONS, WHY DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE MISS USA?

         It has always been a dream of mine to become Miss USA. Even though women today have more options and freedom, I truly believe in what the Miss Universe Organization stands for. I cannot think of another organization in which women can participate in to gain such a life changing experience. The organization not only gives women a platform to inspire others and touch so many lives, but they also offer their titleholders such unique opportunities in both their personal and professional lives. They help women achieve their career goals by giving them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had, if they hadn’t been a part of the organization. 




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    Thank you, Vanessa, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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    PHOTOGRAPHY BY DOMINIQUE JENKINS

    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         Regal, because not only do I carry myself with the utmost poise, confidence, and respect, but I come from a royal lineage in Ghana. And now I am also a beauty queen!


         Dynamic, because I am multifaceted/talented. I love to try new things and discover new passions from singing, acting, music producing, painting, to research, politics, and writing.


         Tenacious, because I do not take no for an answer when it comes to something that I need or want. I am steadfast and persistent to accomplish all of my goals.

    HAVE YOU SEEN "50 SHADES OF GREY?" IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WOULD YOU SEE IT?

         Yes, and I personally loved it. It chronicled the relationship of two consenting curious adults exploring somewhat taboo fantasies.  Many people who read the book were not fans, but with any movie adaptation of a book, you need to understand that the story line is often condensed and is an interpretation of the director, which will obviously be different from your own imagination or fantasies of the different aspects of the book.

    SHOULD ABORTION BE BANNED IN THE CASES OF WOMEN WHO HAVE REPEATED ABORTIONS, BUT CONTINUE NOT TO USE BIRTH CONTROL?


         It is an unfortunate thing to continue to do, especially when there are preventative measures such as all the different methods of contraceptives out there, but I do not think that any person can tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her own body and life.  

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?


         Yes, in my elementary school when I was in the fifth grade, we were given lessons on sexuality. Every parent though had to consent to their child being taught the basics in school at that age. I think it allows the children to receive “the talk” in a comfortable setting with peers, where they get to learn about themselves, their bodies, and what they are/will be going through. As long as it is taught properly, I see no harm.



    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

               My goals for the next five years of my life would include incorporating my own non-profit organization (which I am in the process of doing), beginning a business of some kind that will allow me to be financially stable and independent as well as support my humanitarian endeavors with my non-profit. I see myself also being an established model, and possibly actress on the rise.

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

          I would tell her that just for saying that, we can see who is truly undeserving of the title, as every woman is surely deserving of the blessings that they receive. Who are we to say otherwise?

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Physical appearance is important because it is the first thing that people see when they come into contact with you. A put together person comes across as confident, and more approachable. This allows others to see you as someone that takes pride in themselves and want others to realize their worth as well.
     
    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN). 

          My dream man is someone that is passionate (about me, life, etc), loving, thoughtful, optimistic, and caring. He must also be able to keep me on my toes – I love excitement and trying new things, and I love to laugh.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN? 

         I do not mind women who want to fix the things that they are not happy with by any means, however when you are tying that to pageantry so strongly, it sends the wrong message to women that in order to win that beauty pageant you need to be perfect. And there is no such thing as a perfect woman, not even with all of the cosmetic surgery that one could afford. It takes away the focus from the other truly important aspects of pageantry which include showcasing women that are determined in their careers, their talents, and personalities.

    WHY DO YOU FEEL THERE IS SO MUCH ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT AROUND THE WORLD TODAY?

         As someone who has lived years abroad, I understood their anti-American sentiment as a dislike of our collective ignorance regarding the situations of many countries, yet having opinions on how their problems should be handled. In Ghana, and in Brazil, everyone was so aware of what was going on everywhere, not just in their respective countries.

    WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT AMERICA FACES?

         The greatest challenge America faces in my opinion, is rebuilding our economy so that everyone is able to live a decent life, with access to healthcare, lower rates of unemployment and homelessness, and ultimately bridging the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. 


    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

         I am most proud of the freedom and opportunities we have as Americans here in the USA. We take our freedom and these opportunities for granted sometimes but these are things that people from all over the world dream about having.

    WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PORNOGRAPHY AND RAPE? 

         I do not think that there is a correlation between the two at all. Pornography involves the participation of two consenting adults whom are most likely benefitting (monetarily) from said act. Whereas rape involves someone forcing themselves unto another non-consenting person. And someone who watches pornography could not possibly blame viewing others having sex, as a reason to attack someone else. Pornography does not make rape okay.

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?   

         I think that older workers that are efficient in the workplace should not be necessarily forced to retire. Many times they are probably still working because they unfortunately do not have the luxury of no longer working due to problems in the economy, and personal financial burdens. 

    IF SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY WAS TERMINALLY ILL AND IN AGONY AND ASKED YOU TO HELP THEM DIE, HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE IT?  

         I would not be able to help with that, but I would try to respect their wishes by perhaps enlisting the help of doctors who could help ease their pain as much as possible. But ultimately, I think that the decision is for God to make and to release them when their time is truly “up”.

    HOW SHOULD THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPOND TO THE THREAT OF ISIS

         There is no “right” way though to deal with terrorists because whether or not we fight them, we are losing lives. That is why I would think that the US government would respond to threats by terrorist groups like ISIS by joining together with other strong international powers to bring them down. It may be necessary to meet them with force unfortunately because peace talks with them have not and probably will not work.


    VIRTUALLY ALL TERRORIST ATTACKS SINCE 9/11 HAVE BEEN COMMITTED BY MUSLIMS WHO JUSTIFY THEIR TERRORISM BY QUOTING VIOLENT ACTS FROM THE KORAN. THIS SUGGESTS THAT ISLAM MAY NOT BE A RELIGION OF PEACE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? 

          I think that there are extremists in every religious group. We cannot demonize a whole religion, or whole people because of the cruel actions of some.



    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         Yes. I think that is a fantastic idea because a bilingual education will only promote the ways in which America is diverse, accommodating, and tolerant. After all, this country is a melting pot of cultures, and enforcing a bilingual education will only add to our children’s ability to interact with the world.

    FROM A SCALE OF 1 TO 10, HOW WOULD YOU RATE PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PERFORMANCE AS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES?
         
         I would rate his performance as Commander-in-Chief as an 8. He is limited by many factors (such as opposers in Congress) to do what he wants to do, but even with political conflict and opposition, I think that the decisions made thus far have been satisfactory.


    PEOPLE SAY THE MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?


        I disagree because it is not that most pageant contestants are religious, it is the fact that those that are, are vocal about it. Their faith is what drives them to succeed, and they simply appreciate the fact that they are able to share that with others who also believe.

    WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF AN ETHICAL PERSON?

         An ethical person is one that holds themselves to the highest possible standard and treats everyone with utmost respect. And they expect the same. 

    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

         They would learn from viewing my social media platforms that I am a go-getter, a person that is humorous, and an overall sweet-loving person that is able to showcase many facets of herself.
      
    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

         It has always been a dream of mine to become Miss USA. Even though women today have more options and freedom, I truly believe in what the Miss Universe Organization stands for. I cannot think of another organization in which women can participate in to gain such a life-changing experience. The organization not only gives women a platform to inspire others and touch so many lives, but they also offer their titleholders such unique opportunities in both their personal and professional lives. They help women achieve their career goals by giving them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had, if they hadn’t been a part of the organization. 



    Follow Mame on Instagram


    and Twitter!



    Thank you, Mame, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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  • 03/28/15--16:46: New Indian Queens for 2015

  • VARTIKA SINGH, ADITI ARYA, AAFREEN VAZ

    fbb Femina Miss India 2015 concluded after a month of rigorous training where 21 stunning girls competed for the top three crowns of Miss India World, Miss India International and Miss India Grand International. During the finals last night, Aditi Arya won the crown of Miss India World 2015, who will now represent India at Miss World 2015. Aafreen Vaz won the crown of Miss India International 2015 and she will compete in Miss International 201. Vartika Singh won the crown of Miss India Grand International 2015 and will compete in Miss Grand International 2015. 



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  • 03/28/15--19:42: New Czech Queens for 2015






  • New Czech queens for 2015 were crowned last night in Prague. They are (from left to right):
    Česká Miss Earth 2015 (Miss Earth Czech Republic 2015) - Karolína Mališová - who will compete in Miss Earth 2015 to be held in Cairo, Egypt sometime in November.
    Česká Miss 2015 (Miss Universe Czech Republic) - Nikol Švantnerová - who will compete in the next edition of Miss Universe whose exact date and venue have not yet been confirmed.
    Česká Miss World 2015 (Miss World Czech Republic 2015) - Andrea Kalousová - who will compte in Miss World 2015 whose exact date and venue have not yet been confirmed either.



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  • 03/29/15--19:51: Miss South Africa 2015



  • Liesl Laurie, 24,  from Johannesburg was crowned the new Miss South Africa 2015 at the Superbowl in Sun City on March 29th. She will represent South Africa in Miss World 2015.


    The first runner-up is Refilwe Mthimunye (right) and the second runner-up is Ntsiki Mkhize (left)

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    ANN SIDNEY of the United Kingdom was crowned Miss World 1964 at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on November 12, 1964. Last November 12, 2014 marked her fiftieth coronation anniversary, and to commemorate this momentous occasion, Critical Beauty honored Ann with a beautiful Appreciation Award last Tuesday evening (March 31, 2015) at the Hippodrome Casino in London.

    Critical Beauty's fabulous UK correspondent, Jodie Arabella Daimba, coordinated the event which was attended by a handful of Ann's closest friends that included Sally-Anne Fawcett (author of "Misdemeanours: Beauty Queen Scandals"), Danielle Latimer (Miss UK Earth Fire 2014 and a contender for Miss Universe Great Britain 2015), and of course Jodie herself.

    Ann has been a faithful follower of Critical Beauty and has gained the respect and admiration of pageant fans who admire her for her sincerity, her integrity, and of course, her timeless beauty! We are very privileged to have met and known Ann and we are looking forward to the publication of her tell-all book soon! Congratulations, Ann!

    by Rafa Delfin, Director of Critical Beauty

















    ANN SIDNEY AS MISS WORLD 1964:






    - Coco Chanel


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    PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAGEANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         My friends would describe me as determined, goofy, and non-judgmental. My friends always tell me how they admire my determination when it comes to following my dreams, and they also tend to trust me with personal matters because I've never been one to judge them as I believe we are all humans and we will make mistakes. On another note, I love to make jokes and I enjoy making my friends laugh at all times of the day.

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         Physical appearance is important; we just have to remember that physical beauty is relative. What might be beautiful to me might not be beautiful for another person. We still need to promote the need to take care of ourselves because physical appearance will always be the first impression you have on people. Our presentation card is our physical appearance and from there, people will want to get to know you based on how you present yourself with your look. You will then have opportunity to show your personality and possibly outshine your outer beauty with your inner beauty.

    IF YOU HAD TO BE ANOTHER WOMAN FOR ONE WEEK, WHICH WOMAN WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE AND WHY?

         Joanna Coles, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine who has inspired me through her career journey, which I wish to parallel, and also her innovative vision to reinvent Cosmopolitan from a stereotypical "sex" magazine to a playbook for today's modern woman.  

    CAN YOU LOVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         I can definitely live without designer shoes. For me, fashion isn't about the price but more about the way you make it work. There are beautiful shoes in the market that aren't designer but will still complement your outfit perfectly.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN? 

         I don't see any problem with the promotion of cosmetic surgery, as we live in a society where things are being promoted to us everyday, whether it’s at a bus stop or a television commercial. It will always be up to the individual to make the decision. I think everyone should be able to do what makes them happy and if it would help towards their confidence, why not? Of course, there are always limits and everyone should be careful with the decisions they make and how it will affect their health.

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAGEANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    WHY DO YOU FEEL THERE IS SO MUCH ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT AROUND THE WORLD TODAY?

         When you are a leader, it comes with a lot of responsibility. One of those responsibilities is facing criticism and judgments in most of your actions. The United States, as a nation and a leader, must be involved in social and political decisions of other countries. Most of the time, not everyone will agree with those decisions because they do affect people but you do have others who are grateful for our country to be involved with theirs.

    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

        I do support this law from personal experience. In high school, I had to take a mandatory language course and I chose to take French. I ended up falling in love with the language and the country, which resulted in me taking four years of language when only two were required. I even took the opportunity of a French exchange program and I swapped lives with a Parisian student for 10 days. I would have never taken that experience or have been interested in the language if it wasn't for the requirement. 

    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN). 

         My dream man is someone who supports my visions with big dreams of his own. As someone who has many dreams and works hard to pursue them on a day-by-day basis. It’s important to have someone by my side that can push me positively and also inspire me. I also want to add in that this person would be family-oriented and also have a playful sense of humor.

    WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION?


         Discrimination continues to deny opportunities to minorities and women, and I believe affirmative action creates an equal opportunity for everyone. I think minorities should be represented at schools and in the workforce, when qualified. I strongly believe diversity creates a better learning and work environment.

    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

         As they say, "Sometimes it's better to react with no reaction." I would tell her that I respect her decision and leave it at that because it is important to hear what others have to say but it's more important to control the situation in how you react to it. I would want to be a professional and also take in the moment that I have worked so hard towards. The other candidates have worked hard as well and it's understandable when some might get upset, but we should respect one another and be happy we lived the experience.


    NAME THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

         I would never disrespect my family, support an abusive relationship, or go hunting. I love and cherish my family deeply so I would never want to intentionally hurt them in such way. My mom was a victim of abuse and in honor of her I vowed to never support it. I am not a vegetarian, but when I was young, I accidentally saw my grandfather kill animals on his farm and I knew I could never do that. I didn't eat meat for a month after that! 

    SHOULD ABORTION BE BANNED IN THE CASES OF WOMEN WHO HAVE REPEATED ABORTIONS, BUT CONTINUE NOT TO USE BIRTH CONTROL?

         If you're old enough to make the decision to have sexual relations, then you are old enough to take care of your body. Not only is it a health concern, but also life is a gift and I understand that things happen but repeated mistakes shouldn’t be considered mistakes. It's important to learn from each experience so I do support abortions being banned for those who have repeated abortions, but continue not to use birth control. 

    DO YOU THINK THAT OUR CULTURE IS TOO PREOCCUPIED WITH BEAUTY? HOW COULD WE CHANGE THAT?

         I think our culture is too preoccupied with external beauty. Many tend to judge a person based only on their appearance and we even have jobs that hire people based on their beauty over their skill level. I believe this isn't fair and we must reflect upon ourselves before we could change a society as a whole. I think if we as individuals work hard to look at people for their inner beauty and not only their outer, we'll be able to strengthen our own character. 

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?   

         I don't believe there should be a certain age in which people are forced to retire, unless a medical concern is involved. I know people who are in their 60's that are more active than people in their 20's. I feel that a regulation like that would really be taking their freedom away and that's not what this country is about. 

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

         The diversity of the United States is what makes me extremely proud of my country. There is a diverse amount of beliefs, cultures, personalities, and life stories in any state you visit. As a New York native and a child of Dominican immigrants, diversity has always been an important part of my life. 


    PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAGEANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT AMERICA FACES?

         Unfortunately, Americans are learning to live with gun massacres. Americans began weighing the government’s obligation to protect the rights of gun owners against its duty to protect the lives of its citizens, particularly the very young. People argue for more thorough background checks for gun buyers, with better screening for those with mental illness but it’s been tricky to go fourth with any change with the rights that gun owners have.

    CAN A PERSON WHO WAS BORN A MALE, BUT WHO HAS A SEX REASSIGNMENT TO BECOME FEMALE, BE TRULY A FEMALE IN YOUR OPINION?

         I think you are what you truly feel. We should support each person’s ability to declare his or her own gender identification. You only get one life and I think everyone should have the opportunity to live it in the matter they are most comfortable in, whether it’s as a woman or man.

    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

        From my social networks, one can see that I am a professional who continues to follow her passions and dreams, while supporting the dreams of others. I also love to be interactive and join in on conversation, so I do give my opinions, put my two cents in on my favorite shows like "Scandal" and share life moments. 

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? 

          My goals for the next five years, aside from going to the Miss Universe competition as Miss USA, are to move up in the publication industry, to finish my self-help books, to help first-generation university students and to continue to build strong relationships as a mentor.

    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

          Pageants have given me the opportunity to become the best possible version of me. I have been able to strengthen my interview skills, which have helped me as a communication studies graduate and as a professional in the workforce. I have gained confidence and poise from performing on stage, which has been a crucial part in me growing as a woman and staying true to myself. One of the most important factors is that I've gained lifetime friends. I have three best friends (that I met through a pageant) that I speak to everyday and we continue to support one another years after.  



    Follow Thatiana on Instagram


    and Twitter!


    Thank you, Thatiana, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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    Photo: Kevin Ashley Photography


    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.


         My friends would describe me as sassy, funny, and wise.


    HAVE YOU SEEN "50 SHADES OF GREY?" IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WOULD YOU SEE IT?


         I haven't read the books, but I've seen the movie and honestly the only thing I liked about it was the soundtrack. The music was great! However, I think  if people are going to watch the movie, they should not take it seriously. There were many parts of the movie where I felt that an abusive relationship was being glamorized. I would not recommend young girls to see this because the popularity and hype over the series may have an influence over them, and I feel that it may distort their views and understanding of what a healthy relationship is. The main character's possessiveness, jealousy, and controlling behavior towards his girlfriend is definitely not something that should be seen as attractive.


    IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?


         I would definitely be a leopard because they're fierce and beautiful and they're my favorite animal!


    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?


         Although I have special place in my heart for shoes, I think I could live without designer labels if I had to. There are lots of great quality shoe brands out there that are very reasonably priced!


    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?


         I think that sexuality education should be introduced to the older children of elementary schools, but definitely not younger children. I think it would be best and more appropriate for that type of education to go more in depth once kids start middle school.


    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?


         In five years I see myself living my dream with a successful career in the beauty and entertainment industry, traveling the world, and enjoying life with my family.




    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?


         I would feel very sorry for her because as contestants, we should support each other and be happy for whoever wins Miss USA, because we've proven by becoming state titleholders that we are all worthy of the national crown. 

    IS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPORTANT? WHY OR WHY NOT?


         Physical appearance is definitely important in some aspects of life. In a professional setting, I would say it's very important. You need to maintain a good image in order to make a good first impression and for people to take you seriously. As far as social acceptance goes, you shouldn't judge and favor people based on how attractive they are. You should value friendships with people because of who they are and the unique qualities they have.


    DO YOU THINK THAT OUR CULTURE IS TOO PREOCCUPIED WITH BEAUTY? HOW COULD WE CHANGE THAT?


        I think the American culture is very preoccupied with beauty and that sometimes we place too much value on looks. We need to understand as a society that our looks and beauty do not determine our value and worth.


    IF YOU HAD TO BE ANOTHER WOMAN FOR ONE WEEK, WHICH WOMAN WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE AND WHY?


         I would love to trade lives with Olivia Culpo for one week! She is one of my favorite titleholders and I'd love to see what her life is like now after being Miss Universe.


    HAVE YOU EVER HAD COSMETIC SURGERY OR ANY OTHER ALTERATION TO YOUR APPEARANCE?


         I have never had cosmetic surgery and won't ever get it. I've learned to be comfortable with my body and appearance and I wish that more women could learn to be happy with what they naturally have before resulting to cosmetic surgery. However, I think people have the right to their own bodies and if that is something that will make them happy, they should do it. 




    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN?

         I think it's very sad an unfortunate that the women in Venezuela go to such extremes and risk their health in order to conform to what their pageant director and country considers as beautiful. I think Venezuela needs to start recognizing a universal type of beauty because you can find beautiful women in all parts of the world and they don't all look the same.  

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?


         I'm proud of the fact that we have our freedom. That's the greatest thing about our country. We have so many opportunities and blessings that a lot of other countries don't have. 


    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?


         I think being bilingual has many advantages and I would encourage everyone to learn any type of second language, but I think people should have the right to decide if they want to learn a certain language in school.


    PEOPLE SAY THAT MOST PAGEANT CONTESTANTS ARE RELIGIOUS. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?


         It seems that a lot of contestants are, but this is a diverse country and you would probably be surprised to find that not all pageant girls are religious.


    Photo: Kevin Ashley Photography


    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?


         I like to keep my social media accounts professional for the most part, but I think anyone who viewed them would also be able to see a little bit of my personality and interests. 


    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?


        I have gained so much, but I would credit most of it to curing my fear of public speaking. Growing up I was extremely shy, but pageants gave me confidence and helped me come out of my shell. I don't get nervous in front of crowds anymore and I love the feeling of being on stage. 

    SOME STATES STILL PRACTICE THE DEATH PENALTY AS PUNISHMENT FOR HORRENDOUS CRIMES. DO YOU THINK THAT IT SHOULD BE ABOLISHED? WHY OR WHY NOT?

         I'm not in favor of the death penalty because I think the only person who can determine if someone should die is God, and as humans I don't think we have the right to take lives. I think people who commit horrendous crimes should spend the rest of their life in prison living with the consequences of what they did.


    COMPARED TO THE 1950s-1970s, WOMEN TODAY HAVE MORE OPTIONS IN TERMS OF THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES AND PERSONAL LIVES. DESPITE THESE OPTIONS, WHY DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE MISS USA?


         I want to be Miss USA because she is a national  representative of the modern American woman today. As women, we have so many opportunities today that we didn't always have. Miss USA would be my dream job because it's an opportunity to travel the country making a difference and serving as a role model to women.

      


    Follow Alexis on Instagram


    and Twitter!



    Thank you, Alexia, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!


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    PHOTOGRAPHY BY GEORGINA VAUGHAN

    GIVE THREE ADJECTIVES THAT YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU.

         

    Determined. Loyal. Beautiful – internally (I actually asked… is that cheating? Lol)

    HAVE YOU SEEN "50 SHADES OF GREY?" IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WOULD YOU SEE IT?


         

    I have not seen “50 Shades of Grey.”  Quite honestly, I don’t think I’ll be putting forth much effort to see it.  It just isn’t something that interests me. I have very limited down time these days and I want to occupy it with the things I love, like team roping, cooking, and family!  I have heard strong, conflicting reviews of it so far, so I’m confident it is viewer specific.  I hope everyone else is enjoying it!

    IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK AS AN ANIMAL IN THE NEXT LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?


         

    In the next life, I would come back as a Quarter Horse.  I have been obsessed with horses since I first laid eyes on them, which was 6 months old.  Not only do I deeply respect these animals and enjoy what they offer humanity, I would love to experience their power for a day.

    CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT DESIGNER SHOES? WHY OR WHY NOT?


         

    Absolutely.  Although I am a sucker for designer shoes, there is more to life.

    NAME THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

         1. I would never eat a jar of sauerkraut.
         2. I would never give up coffee.
         3. I would never compromise my values or integrity for someone.

    DO YOU THINK THAT "SEXUALITY EDUCATION" SHOULD BE PART OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?


         

    I do not believe that “sexuality education” should be a part of elementary school curriculum in America.  One’s sexuality is a very intimate and personal discovery.  Our educators serve a great purpose in America’s future, but they have no place in determining a child’s sexual orientation.  The individual and those closest to he or she should guide and support this kind of discovery. Furthermore, how are to expect a child to affirmatively determine their sexual orientation when that haven’t even fully matured physically, mentally, and hormonally? Let’s let our kids be kids and support them in their full development, not just their sexual.

    WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?


         

    I envision myself a mother and a wife in five years.  I also envision having a well-established career choice and a greater confidence in what I will contribute to my state and country.  With aspirations to serve my country, I will have determined, by then, whether public service or military service will achieve this goal.


    IF YOU WON MISS USA AND ONE OF THE CANDIDATES TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE CROWN, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?

         First, I would consider the source and the circumstance.  Often, emotionally charged statements are a result of defeat and disappointment and understandably so.  Second, I would kindly express my apologies that she felt that way and continue on with my duties as Miss USA. Our naysayers are always our greatest source of motivation and clarity. I find it far more fulfilling and logical to focus on those that choose to support you.  Put your energy into those that love you and you will prosper.

    DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM MAN (OR IF YOU'RE GAY, DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM WOMAN). 

         

    My dream man is a man of strength, love, and humility.  He is a God fearing man, a man of faith; a man who will lead me and allow me to be a woman in all my grace, strength, and beauty.  He is a man of integrity and respect with a strong work ethic, who respects me and loves me for who I am, imperfections and all.

    IF YOU COULD GO ON A BLIND DATE WITH ANY MAN (OR WOMAN), WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?

         Isn’t the point of a blind date to not know your company?  But if I could have a not-so-blind blind date, I would go on a date with my grandpa.  He is the apple of my eye, and I, his. A girl can never have too many dates with her grandpa.

    HAVE YOU EVER HAD COSMETIC SURGERY OR ANY OTHER ALTERATION TO YOUR APPEARANCE?

         I have not had any cosmetic surgery or any other alterations to my appearance.  I have 2 new ACLs in my knees that left some neat scars.  Does that count as altering my appearance? Haha!



    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAGEANTS LIKE MISS VENEZUELA PROMOTING COSMETIC SURGERY SO MUCH? IS THAT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUNG WOMEN?

         I believe that each pageant/ pageant system reflects the women it attracts.  If synthetic flawlessness is a distinct characteristic of Miss Venezuela, and women continue to vie for the title, then those expectations are reasonable and genuine for those women.  I believe Miss USA advocates a message of beauty and strength which speaks to my goals and reflects the woman I am.  Hence, why I am happily competing for this prestigious title!

    WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE U.S.A.?

         I am proud that the USA still stands as a beacon of hope for oppressed countries around the world.  Terrorism and tyranny plague this world and those living among such desolation and despair need world powers, like America, to continue fighting for basic rights and the welfare of humanity, stateside and abroad.  Despite contradicting sentiments towards the United States, I am proud that we will forever defend democracy and decency in the world with little or no support.

    DO YOU THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE A CERTAIN AGE WHEN PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO RETIRE?

         Not at all!  My grandpa is a great example.  He is 76 and still working full time as a Mining Engineer Consultant in Montana.  Montana mining is not for the faint of heart.  If the mind and body are healthy, let that individual live their life to the fullest and if that includes working, than by all means, work.  Work is a good thing.  It engages the mind, keeps an individual active, promotes personal pride, and contributes positively to society.  

    DO YOU SUPPORT LAWS TO REQUIRE MANDATORY BILINGUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS?

         No, I do not support laws to require mandatory bilingual education.  Although I studied Spanish in high school and college and will encourage my children to do the same, I do not believe litigation nor lawmaking are necessary to promote diversity in education in America’s school system.



    FROM A SCALE OF 1 TO 10, HOW WOULD YOU RATE PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PERFORMANCE AS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES?

         In my humble opinion, President Obama’s greatest achievement thus far was continuing with and executing the Bush Administration’s quest to take down Osama Bin Laden. 

    WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF AN ETHICAL PERSON?

         My definition of an ethical person is an individual who maintains high integrity and honesty in his or her conduct in all facets of life.  Furthermore, this individual prioritizes these virtues above all else and executes fair treatment of others and situations always.

    WHAT WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER LEARN ABOUT YOU FROM REVIEWING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS LIKE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

         They would learn that I have a small business called PinkSpurs, that I am a bonafide cowgirl, and that I love food!  They would also conclude that I am an energetic woman who wants to have a profound impact on this world.  Lastly, they would learn that I am a loyal friend with a deep love for people.

    WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED BY COMPETING IN PAGEANTS?

         Competing in pageant has enabled me to channel my confidence and intense personality into an inviting yet, commanding presence. The refinement that pageantry demands has helped me to compose my dominant characteristics into effective public relation tools.


    Follow Tahnee on Instagram


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    Thank you, Tahnee, for granting us this interview 
    and we wish you the best of luck in Miss USA 2015!

    SECRETS TO BEING CONFIDENTLY BEAUTIFUL


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