HONOLULU, September 8, 2013 – One of America’s fastest rising young leaders is none other than Brianna Acosta, a recent journalism and political science graduate who represented the Aloha State this year as Miss Hawaii USA.
In an exclusive interview, Acosta shared her unique perspective on pageantry, life after wearing a crown and the challenges young Americans face in today’s world.
Danny de Gracia: Brianna, since our last interview in December a lot has happened in your career and life! You graduated from the University of Hawaii in May and in June you competed for Miss USA. What’s it been like for you lately and how do you feel about the whole experience of pageants and representing Hawaii?
Brianna Acosta: It’s been a little weird for me to be honest, transitioning into a non-competition mode. You spend months preparing for and anxiously awaiting Miss USA in addition to your titleholder responsibilities, so it’s a little strange having that weight lifted and just focusing on fulfilling the rest of my year as Miss Hawaii USA and life after the crown.
I absolutely loved my experience at Miss USA. I was especially appreciative of all the love and support I received as I prepared to compete. My directors Eric Chandler and Takeo Kobayashi were so supportive of me throughout the entire process and are truly like family to me. They set up mock interviews, helped plan my outfits and designed and made my custom evening gown.
I truly felt like Miss Universe in that gown. My amazing sponsors, such as Manuheali’i and my coach, Jenny Lynn, were also behind me 100% and I was so humbled by their graciousness.
I think pageants are a great way for women to feel empowered. I may not have been what they were looking for as Miss USA 2013 but I received great feedback from the national sponsors and staff and made treasured connections and friendships.
I was so proud to represent Hawaii, especially being from a small town like Waialua and above all, it was definitely an empowering experience.
DDG: A lot of young people look up to you and respect your opinions. What’s your thoughts about the direction the United States and the world has been going lately? If you had been Miss USA, what would have been some of the major issues you’d have liked to bring more attention to?
Acosta: The world is a scary and unpredictable place in today’s day and age and I surely can’t say what’s to come. My belief is that the way we can make a positive change is to be that change on a smaller scale.
At Miss USA I was able to work with amazing charities such as Stop Hunger Now and Best Buddies, which assist poverty stricken regions with food and adolescents with disabilities, respectively.
If I had been crowned Miss USA I would have loved to spread my personal mission of STEM and literacy education through FIRST Robotics.
The children and adolescents of today are those that will lead and save our world tomorrow. I think if little girls would have seen that Miss USA was a robotics nerd that they would think being smart and striving to achieve more through education is pretty cool.
DDG: What do you think are some of the things that young people in America are most concerned about today? Lately there’s been a lot of talk about economic crisis, terrorism and wars in various places, what do young people think about all this?
Acosta: The concern I hear about the most in my personal life is the economic crisis and that definitely is a major concern for me. The cost of living, especially in Hawaii, versus minimum wage isn’t such a fair battle. I have friends with masters and law degrees struggling to find jobs in their respective fields. I’m certainly not an economist so I don’t have the answer to the problem but I surely appreciate every paycheck a lot more.
DDG: One of the things that I notice is that whenever there’s a beauty pageant, there are some elements of the national media which can just be excessively judgmental and cruel in the way they cover the contestants, especially in the area of the way some of the young women answer questions. What’s your feelings on this?
Acosta: I think this issue is more complex than people think because there are young ladies that are very intelligent but get flustered under the pressure and then there are those who simply don’t know how to answer the question.
This is not to say that the girl who doesn’t know how to answer the question is dumb or uneducated; I think it’s more so that she doesn’t really know herself. The questions aren’t meant to stump, but rather to see how the young woman composes herself and can form a personal opinion.
I think it’s acceptable for the public and media to judge to an extent as the winner will go on to represent the entire United States at Miss Universe, but I think they also need to be considerate to the woman when doing this; an answer to a question pulled randomly out of a fishbowl does in no way determine a woman’s worth!
DDG: The last time we spoke you mentioned maybe going to law school, is that still an interest for you?
Acosta: It is still a great possibility. I’ve had some potential opportunities come up post Miss USA, so for now I will see where those lead but who knows what the future holds!
DDG: What would you say is the most important thing to you right now?
Acosta: The most important thing to me right now is doing some self-discovery after reflecting on my year and experience and deciding what’s next to achieve. Also, I can’t express enough gratitude to my family, directors, support team, sponsors and friends – they will always be so important to me for all they have done for me!
We greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with and interview Ms. Acosta. Follow her on Twitter at @BriannaAcosta and on Instagram @RealMissHIUSA.
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