As a child rising up in Brentwood, Lengthy Island, Miss New York USA Briana Siaca may by no means have envisioned a future as a magnificence queen.
“Brentwood is comprised of hustlers and folks simply making an attempt to outlive. You’re surrounded by violence,” Siaca informed The Submit of life as a “painfully shy” teenager amidst the MS-13 riddled area. “I knew all about medicine and gangs by 10. We couldn’t play outdoors, there have been fixed slashings and shootings. There’s no room to dream.”
Now, the 27-year-old, who works as an operations supervisor for a world funding agency, is ready to compete within the Miss USA pageant, airing live on FYI at 8 p.m. Monday. Siaca has spent the previous six years striving to win the state-wide contest and make it up to now.
“It was actually tough to face defeat annually,” mentioned the Lengthy Island Metropolis resident, noting that shedding was by no means an choice. “I knew victory was inside attain.”
Raised by a single dad, an Military vet who labored in development, Siaca was a tomboy who realized to vary a flat tire years earlier than she knew how you can apply mascara. “I didn’t have that optimistic feminine position mannequin rising up,” Siaca informed The Submit simply earlier than flying out to Tulsa, Okla., for the large pageant. “My sister turned a teenage mom at 15.”
She selected to pursue a special path. “I made a decision in highschool I would like a greater life for myself,” she mentioned. Siaca utilized to Tempo College to check chemistry and was accepted. Her dad needed to refinance his home to assist pay her tuition.
In 2015, her curiosity in pageants was piqued when she was flipping by way of a college publication that includes a Miss New York USA. “I used to be lonely and insecure. I needed to problem myself with one thing to assist me develop,” she mentioned. “One thing that might make me really feel good and do one thing that might completely terrify me.”
Prepping for her debut on the Miss New York USA pageant in 2016 was a change — each bodily and emotional. “Rising up, I used to be not a stupendous woman,” mentioned Siaca, who famous that she was at all times self-conscious about her outsized glasses and frizzy hair.
“I didn’t actually know quite a bit about make-up or hair and I by no means went to the health club earlier than pageants — it was type of a crash course earlier than my first pageant,” she mentioned.
However she positioned first runner-up. “I had no thought what I used to be doing, however I believe they cherished that I introduced a contemporary power and innocence.”
The platform modified how she noticed herself intellectually: “I by no means felt like I had a voice. I felt like I suffered in silence,” she mentioned. “I went from the woman who didn’t communicate till spoken to, to the woman who can’t shut up.”
She turned hooked on the joys of the competitors — and would go on to enter yearly for six consecutive years, at all times putting within the prime 5.
Forward of her ultimate pageant this previous August — the max age for opponents is 27 — she got here to understand that her dream of profitable won’t come true. “I used to be OK with any consequence and that additionally modified my power,” she mentioned. “I considered my group and what I may do with the title. This time round, there was a relaxed about me.”
Then, on the Resorts World Catskills lodge in a sea of 160 contestants, she gained. “I couldn’t consider it. I simply began weeping,” she mentioned. The newly crowned queen tearfully dedicated her win to “the little ladies in Brentwood who don’t assume they’re worthy of their desires.”
Now, she goes again to her center and excessive faculties to talk to the children about constructing self-confidence. She additionally volunteers with the non-profit Girls Inc., which advocates for underprivileged ladies. She not too long ago hosted a “Confidence Challenge” throughout which she shared insights with the children about cultivating self-worth. Miss New York judge Antonio Estrada was dazzled by Siaca. “She was poised, elegant and actual. Her story, the place she comes from a single dad, is so transferring,” mentioned the style designer. “She’s somebody lots of people can look as much as — she’s so inspirational.”
However behind the glamorous facade of the competitors is rigorous work, Siaca mentioned. She sleeps eight hours an evening, with lights out at 11 and a wakeup-call at 7. She hits the health club each earlier than and after work, with a number of weightlifting, bench urgent and squats. There’s water coaching, principally simply lowering water consumption two days earlier than a pageant, a course of that’s designed to scale back water retention and assist emphasize stomach definition onstage. “It’s fairly intense. Once I’m coaching for a pageant, there’s no stopping me.”
And it doesn’t come low cost, both: most contestants have a crew, together with coaches and private trainers, and have to purchase their very own robes and jewels. “They name it the ‘wealthy ladies’ sport,” she mentioned. “And I’m undoubtedly not a wealthy woman. Each greenback I made I put it into this. I’d fund myself.” Siaca has shelled out hundreds for attire and coaches. Whereas she now has sponsors that contribute to her coaching, together with her office, GEM (World Rising Markets), Siaca admitted that prepping is a full-time job on prime of her full-time job. At 5-foot-6, she’s been busy working towards to stroll in her eight-inch heels, praying she gained’t fall. “This yr I discovered I’m one of many shorter contestants,” she mentioned.
Regardless of her success, pageant life isn’t summer season camp. “I’m not making pals at these pageants — ladies don’t wish to speak to me,” Siaca mentioned throughout a February 2021 podcast, “Podcast and Chill,” concerning the cutthroat course of. However she respects all of the contestants. “It’s a number of the strongest, well-rounded, dynamic ladies on this planet.”
Huge Apple magnificence queens are recognized to be particularly fierce, making Siaca’s success through the years all of the extra notable. “New York is arguably one of the vital aggressive states to win,” mentioned the self-described “late bloomer.”
The “very single” magnificence queen admitted that since her win, an increasing number of guys are popping out of the woodwork, sliding into her DMs with brazen — however principally respectful — requests for a date.
“[There are] greater than I’d wish to admit,” she mentioned. “[But], I respect them — it takes lots of braveness.”
To maintain her focus, she’s holding off on relationship till the pageant’s over. That’s not the one factor she’s wanting ahead to as soon as her tiara days are behind her. What else is on the post-pageant agenda? “An additional aspect of fries could be cool,” she mentioned with fun.
Make-up: Briana Siaca
Hair: Antonio Estrada
Styling: Estrada Twins