Olivia Culpo is Miss USA‎ 2012

Looking at her face, it was impossible to say exactly what was going through Olivia Culpo’s mind.
The 20-year-old cellist from Rhode Island had just been crowned Miss USA (beating 50 other beauty queens for the right to represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant) and her eyes were wide with a mix of terror, ecstasy, and disbelief.
And, really, who can blame her?
Culpo just completed her sophomore year at Boston University, and folks who know her say she didn’t slack on her studies even as she was preparing to strut across a stage, on national TV, in a lilac bikini and then a fuchsia evening gown with a sparkly belt.
“She has this very wonderful way about her that’s very calming” – says Louis Mayhew, Culpo’s academic advisor at BU. “Think about the stress level just being a college student can cause, and then think about what she’s been doing.”
Our attempts to reach Culpo Monday were initially unsuccessful because the Miss USA crown comes with a carefully orchestrated PR offensive that begins Tuesday with an appearance on “LIVE! With Kelly.” But persistence paid off, and Culpo spoke to us on the phone for three minutes after arriving in New York from Las Vegas, where the pageant had been held at the Planet Hollywood casino.
“I was just in shock” – Culpo said, explaining her reaction. “All 51 of those women were beautiful on the inside and outside.”
A graduate of St. Mary Academy Bay View, an all-girls Catholic school in Riverside, R.I., Culpo told us she was short and chubby as a youngster: “a little bit of an awkward stage.”

Olivia Culpo is Miss USA‎ 2012
Olivia Culpo.

\Before Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island was even crowned Miss USA on Sunday night, it was perhaps obvious that Miss Ohio wouldn’t be taking the crown.
When asked to name a film in which a woman is depicted in a positive way during the Q&A round, the blonde 23-year-old raised eyebrows when she chose Julia Roberts’s role in Pretty Woman.
Smiling broadly, Audrey Bolte was unaware she had named a prostitute saved by a wealthy older man as a role model to women.
“I think there are some movies that depict women in a very positive role, and then some movies that put them in a little bit more of negative role” – she said. “But by the end of the movie, they show that woman power that I know we all have.”
She went on: “Such as the movie Pretty Woman. We had a wonderful, beautiful woman, Julia Roberts, and she was having a rough time, but, you know what? She came out on top and she didn’t let anybody stand in her path.”
The answer proved less popular than Culpo’s, who said she supported the decision to allow transgender contestants when quizzed on the issue.
It is not the first time the women in Miss USA 2012 have shown limited general knowledge.
Ahead of the competition, a hilarious quiz on a Bravo chat show revealed that many could not name the country’s vice president.
And most did not know the colour of the waves of grain mentioned in the song America the Beautiful (a mainstay of classrooms across the country).

The nation’s newest Miss USA is a Rhode Island cellist who describes herself as a nerd and aspires to be more like Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn.
Olivia Culpo shares Hepburn’s European heritage and dark brown hair and soon they will share something else. Culpo said after winning her crown Sunday night that she plans to go to Tiffany & Co. in New York and recreate Hepburn’s iconic opening scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
She cited Hepburn as her source of inspiration, noting her many years of volunteer work.
“She was beautiful on the outside but also beautiful on the inside” – said Culpo, who sang the chorus of Funny Face from her favorite movie of the same name after her win.
Culpo, a Boston University sophomore, will take a year off from her studies to tackle her duties and represent the nation in the 61st Miss Universe contest in December. The 20-year-old said she wished she could have shared her crown with her 50 competitors during the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Culpo strutted across the stage in a lilac bikini, then donned a flowing fuchsia gown with sparkly trim around her waist and decolletage. After making it to the final five, Culpo voiced her support for transgender beauty queens during the make-or-break interview round.
“Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?” asked celebrity judge Rob Kardashian. The question came from a pageant follower on Twitter, a first for the competition.
Culpo didn’t hesitate before embracing the Miss Universe Organization’s recent decision to admit transgender contestants.
“I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country” – Culpo said.

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