We met Miss USA Erin Brady at the Miss USA offices in Manhattan recently. Erin is from Connecticut and worked in finance before competing in the Miss USA Pageant.
How much does the Miss USA title mean to you?
It means a lot because I'm the oldest of three girls. So for me, it was really cool because they really look up to me and it was really important because now it's not just them looking up to me, it's a lot of people. So it's a really, really big honor and I'm also the first one from Connecticut that has ever won. So it was really amazing to finally bring the title home to this little state of Connecticut for the first time ever.
How did you feel when they announced that you were the new Miss USA?
I was so excited but it was also a little shocking because you don't know whether it's going to be you or the other girl, which was Miss Alabama. So all of a sudden I hear, "And the winner is Connecticut" and then you hear all those people screaming for you. I had about 40 people in the audience that were there for me with my face on a big board, and they were jumping up and down and screaming.
How much money did you spend on your competition outfits?
Actually when I won Miss Connecticut, one of the prizes is a sponsored gown. So the gown I competed in was actually free for me, and all of the girls get the exact same swimsuit. So I actually didn't have to pay for that either. Probably I would say about $2,000 for all of the outfits that I bought. But you figure it was about two weeks of clothes, shoes and jewelry. It's a lot, but it's like a brand new wardrobe. And I get to keep the clothes.
What made you think about doing pageants?
I always wanted to do modeling and one of my girlfriends that was interested in pageantry recommended it to me, so I did a little bit of research and realized that the Miss Universe organization was really amazing and promoted a really great message. So I decided to go for it and compete for Miss Connecticut. And actually, the first year I competed I was first runner-up, and then I decided to come back and give it one more go and I ended up winning. So I think that's a good message, too. Never give up.
What are your duties being Miss USA?
As Miss USA I have a lot of really cool duties. We work with really great charities and organizations. We actually get to travel around a lot and teach people about awareness with breast and ovarian cancer. I work with a lot of great organizations like The Wounded Warrior project, which works with a lot of great soldiers -- men and women who have gone in and fought in war who have lost limbs or got injured in war. I go and meet them and visit them in hospitals, which is amazing because they're so positive and they're so happy even though these horrible things have happened to them.
What other things did you do before competing to be Miss USA?
For work, I was a financial accountant. I was working at Prudential Hartford, working 9 to 5. I already graduated from school but I was looking to go back to school to pursue my master's and then this happened. So that's going to get postponed a little bit. But work consumed most of my life at the time.
Nowadays young girls feel the pressure of being beautiful, perfect and smart. If you had a daughter what would you say to her about how to handle these pressures?
If I had a daughter I would just tell her she needs to be as confident as possible and that beauty has a lot to do with who you are on the inside. Because, obviously, you see a lot of people who are beautiful on the outside but they may not be that nice or that friendly and it really doesn't make them look as pretty as they look on the outside. So it really has to do with your personality, how you treat other people, how you carry yourself, how confident you portray yourself to be.
We saw in your picture that you wear a lot of makeup. Do you like wearing a lot of makeup or not?
I don't like to wear a lot of makeup. It's fun to play dress-up in the photo shoots. They almost make you look like a different person, you feel like a Barbie doll for a day. But I've always been like a lip gloss, mascara girl.