Pageant Queen Turned Celebrity, Olivia Culpo Clears Up The Stereotypes
Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe in 2012, and since then, she’s taken the world by storm with television appearances, a high-profile relationship with Nick Jonas (Yes, Jealous is about her) and an Instagram that just can’t stop gaining followers. During an exclusive shoot with Galore—she’d never shot a bikini editorial before!—she gave us the lowdown on life post-pageant, her own relationship with music, and what Instagram has done for the career she’s building across all platforms. The world is yours, Olivia Culpo.
So what was your experience of pageants before you entered one? Did you grow up familiar with them?
Not at all. I grew up in Rhode Island, with a family who had never dreamed of entering me in a pageant. I was 18 years old, studying at Boston University—majoring in acting— when a friend suggested I do it. My parents weren’t the kind of parents that pushed me into a pageant lifestyle—it was only once I showed them how serious I was, and when I won, that they became really excited by it.
Huh, I feel that it’s often the parents who push their kids into doing pageants. Did you feel like your relatively late entrance in pageant life was helpful?
Totally, because a lot of the pageant competition has to do with having a stance on things. When you grow up in pageants, you’re a bit removed from the rest of the world. The problem with that, is that so much of the pageant has to do with being able to engage with the world and discuss and address causes. It’s not just about looking pretty. That was important for me to know how to do.
Have you been back to Boston since?
My dad owns a few restaurants in Boston, so I grew up spending a lot of time there. But I left school to pursue the rest of my career. I moved to New York after the pageant, and now I’m living in Los Angeles. I love living in Los Angeles!
Well, so now that you’ve reached the pinnacle of pageant success, do you at least plan to return to acting?
Definitely! I’m still really interested in acting, I love film so much. It’s definitely something I’m going to explore as well. The whole process of winning the pageant has been so amazing, I’m really excited to move forward into all kinds of projects. I’m interested in fitness, beauty, modeling, fashion, acting—Instagram has been a great way to connect with people across all those platforms.
“My parents weren’t the kind of parents that pushed me into a pageant lifestyle—it was only once I showed them how serious I was, and when I won, that they became really excited by it.”
Did you make a lot of friends at the pageants?
To be honest, you’re not really at a pageant to make friends [Laughs]. Everything moves so quickly, you know? But I have stayed in touch a few girls, although they’re mostly just around the world.
Right, that’s interesting. And since finishing the competition, how has social media played into building your brand, or your connection to your fans?
Oh my God, it’s been so great! I mean, just being able to connect with people, and share, especially in terms of fitness and beauty. You know, I’ll post a recipe or some beauty tips on Instagram and I’ll just get such amazing feedback.
I read that you’re a cellist?
Yeah! I love music. I still play cello a few times a week. I play with my family, I play with Nick. I don’t think it will be something I pursue professionally, but it will always be my creative outlet.
“When you grow up in pageants, you’re a bit removed from the rest of the world. The problem with that, is that so much of the pageant has to do with being able to engage with the world and discuss and address causes. It’s not just about looking pretty.”
Where did you learn?
My parents are both musicians, and made sure we all played music. My brothers and sisters all play instruments, so we’ll get together whenever we can and play. We play a lot of classical music, you know, the good stuff.
You guys should start a family band!
We already are!
Pink: American Apparel One Piece, Ippolita Earrings, Jennifer Fisher Bracelet & Ring Silver: Beth Richards One Piece & Jacquie Aiche Necklace
Photography By Jacob Dekat
Creative Direction By Prince Chenoa
Styling By Alexandra Mandelkorn