Miss USA

Michelle Laino brings her trademark positive attitude to the 2018 Miss New York Teen USA Pageant

In a pageant confidence is the key. Anyone who has ever pursued their dreams knows that they are never as simple as you set out expecting them to be. Don’t let that deter you. Confident winners do not let setbacks deter them from their goals or allow others’ opinions to deter them from their full potential.

Perseverance in pageantry is a valuable lesson that applies in every other area of life. The best things in life are challenging. Know that whatever setbacks you may have, they don’t define you. 

The beautiful Michelle Laino will compete for the crown of Miss New York Teen USA 2018. This will be her 5th time. She believes that you don't need a crown to be a queen - "Every year I competed I got to know myself more and more. That was the most important thing I have done to prepare, is to know myself inside and out. I think the most important part of preparation in pageants is getting to know who you are and why you are competing." she explained.

Michelle, 18, graduated high school and she is currently enrolled in a personal training certification program. After she obtains her certification she plans to continue her education in nutrition. She works as a sales associate at Club Pilates - "I just really love fitness, exercise, and the human body. As for extracurricular work, I have a health blog and I also volunteer at Gilda's Club, which is an organization to help families, friends, and patients affected by cancer." she said

Michelle's dedication towards her goals, and her success which has been a result of her ambitions and efforts, will surely take her long on the road of victory! Discover more about her story below

You will compete at the Miss New York Teen Usa Pageant. How will you prepare the contest ? What inspired you on the course of beauty pageant ?

This will be my fifth year competing for this title.  Self confidence is key. Having a passion for health and fitness is my driving cause, because with the title I would love to have a bigger voice on the matter. This title is something that I have dreamt of for these past five years everyday. It is always in the back of my mind whenever I do anything. Wanting this opportunity for such a long time is what inspires me. 

Many misses have said that their dream since a child was to participate in a pageant as prestigious as Miss World (or Miss Universe). Is this your case? And if so, why?

I actually had no idea what a pageant was when I was a child and I never was exposed to them until my freshman year of high school. I received a pamphlet in the mail and decided to try it to get out of my comfort zone. Now I dream of it everyday. 

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What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?

While having a title gives you many opportunities to be leader and a good role model, it's important to remember that you need to be a leader and a role model every on your own. Whether or not you have a physical crown, you can still carry yourself with the same confidence you would with one. Live the lifestyle you imagine yourself with having a title, before you get there. Live as if you are a titleholder now. This is a mentality that has helped me a lot in pageants. If you wake up every morning and tell yourself 'I am a Miss ..." and just be that person and radiate that energy day after day, by the time your pageant comes around you have a strong sense of self and the confidence that you deserve to win just as much as anyone else. The energy you put out into the world is what you get in return. Find something you are passionate about and work at that. Never stop trying to improve, stay focused, be humble, and know yourself so well that you are unshakably and unapologetically yourself always. 

Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?

In 2015 I had spinal fusion surgery to correct my severe case of scoliosis, meaning I had two metal rods screwed into my spine to straighten it out. This took place several months before the pageant, and even though I thankfully recovered much faster than I was supposed to, the whole process took a lot out of me. That year was different because I was out of it and off my game because my head was somewhere else before the surgery and during the recovery period. After my surgery everything started to get better, but it took longer than expected to start to feel 100% like myself again and that really affected my performance at the pageant that year. Overcoming this at first I was just disappointed in myself, but as time went on I realized that I wasn't in a good place. I'm actually really happy that I had the surgery now because it made me stronger physically and more mature mentally. Scoliosis consumed a lot of my life previously, so to end that chapter and finally be able to move on and up was good for me. Now that setback is part of the reason I compete -- one of the things I would love to do with the title is to reach out to schools about scoliosis screenings and help kids like me who went through back bracing and surgeries. 

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We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?

One thing about me is that I won't do anything unless I am super into it or passionate about it. If I am fortunate enough to succeed to the title of Miss New York Teen USA, I would dedicate the entire year to being the best titleholder I can possibly be. I want to do as much with the title as I can and it is not something I would take lightly or for granted. I care so much. With the title, I would love to spend the year advocating for the importance of health. I have witnessed a lot of illnesses in my life. My mother passed away of cancer, my dad had two heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery, and I myself have had heart and back surgery. Knowing your family health history is so important so you can stay proactive in keeping yourself healthy. I want to spread the message that fitness is not about what size you are, calories, or how you look. It's about keeping yourself strong enough to live a full life. It's about how you feel. Having been in enough hospitals, I know what it is like to feel weak. Taking care of my health and my body is why I can proudly say that I now know what it is like to feel strong. Being fit is not about what you have to lose, but about what you have to gain. This is my main message and reason for competing. I want to make a difference in helping every single person I come across to take care of themselves so they can become the best, strongest version of themselves.

Your favorite beauty queen ?

I have two favorites. I love the current Miss Universe, Iris Mittenaere. I was rooting for her during the Miss Universe pageant because she is from France. I took French for eight years in school and am still learning the language today. It has been really interesting and inspiring to watch her reign.

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I also love Nia Sanchez, Miss USA 2014, because she is a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and promoted the empowering benefits to it. I used to practice Tae Kwon Do and now I do kickboxing and Krav Maga self defense training. I can relate to her these women in these ways and look up to them. 

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Thanks to the beautiful Michelle for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss New York Teen USA pageant.