Hi Lady Code!
Happy Thursday! I have an amazing woman to introduce today: Brandy Fisher, Miss California United States 2014. Many people assume that beauty queens have perfect lives and had an advantage growing up, which would lead to their success. I have to set that misconception straight–many beauty queens, celebrities, models, and other public figures face MANY challenges on their way to their success, including Brandy. Although she is a former victim of bullying, you would never expect when you meet her. Brandy can light up a room with her beauty and positive energy. She is very friendly and confident, but she does have a story to tell.
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Book: Dr. Seuss – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Favorite Workout: My favorite type of workout is hands down weight training! Arm day is my favorite day of the week!
Education: Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Kentucky (Areas of study: Sociology, Criminology, Women’s Studies, Communications & Broadcast Journalism)
Occupation: I am currently a Marketing & Sales Manager at Showtime Networks, Inc. in West Los Angeles.
Hobbies & Interests: Hiking, cycling, classical music, Kentucky basketball, running, scary movies, weight lifting, community service, thrift shopping, broadway musicals, vanilla bean ice cream, traveling internationally, history museums, people watching, mexican food, discovering new music, painting pottery, hugging & crime dramas.
Congratulations on being Miss California United States 2014! Can you tell us how you got involved with pageantry? Thank you! I still can’t believe it! It’s so cool! I started pageants when I was 15 years old. I was a huge tomboy (and still am) and a few friends dared me to compete for Miss Kentucky Teen USA. So I gave it a try, not having a clue what I was doing and ended up placing in the top 15 and won Miss Congeniality! I then learned I could win scholarships, new clothes and jewelry…all from winning a pageant. I grew up very poor with limited financial resources so the idea of being able to do something fun that could help me go to college was music to my ears! I ended up returning the following year and made top 5, along with Miss Congeniality again.
What would you say to a woman who may be on the line about competing in a pageant?
Just do it! Pageant experiences offer so much more than just a pretty crown and sash. If you are passionate about anything in life whether it’s community service, animals, sports, cars or ice cream, having a pageant title will allow you more opportunities to be involved with what you are passionate about. Pageants are one of the few places where you will get to connect with like-minded people and work together to create beautiful things in your community. Through pageantry you learn so many things that will transfer on to your daily activities such as time management, team building, organization, poise, public speaking skills and professionalism. We all deserve the opportunity to learn and grow as well as the opportunity to reach our dreams. Let your pageant family assist you with getting closer to whatever it is that you hope to do in life.
What is the most rewarding thing about pageants?
The most important part of pageantry to me is community support and involvement. Being appointed a local, state or national pageant title means you desired to represent your community, state or country as a public figure, role model and advocate. It is disheartening to see women win a pageant title and never take advantage of the philanthropy opportunities that come included with the job. As a titleholder, you are given a unique opportunity to have high profile access into charity events, schools and organizations. Taking on a local title or winning a state title gives you a master key (in the form of a crown and sash) that opens infinite doors and allows you to maximize your life experiences, if you desire. Each woman gets to choose how big or how small their pageantry role will be during their reign. For me, the most important part of pageantry is having a voice and proactively utilizing it to make a change in at least one person’s life, who will in turn, pay it forward. Some events/organizations that I have supported during my reign include: The LA County Susan G. Komen 10k Race for the Cure, The ShredFest 6 Benefit for Pediatric Cancer, The Grammy Museum’s LA Suitcase Party Benefit for Youth Music Education Programs, The Lights Camera Cure Hollywood Dance Marathon for Pediatric Cancer, The Create Now Arts Mentoring Book Fair, building a playground at Child Haven (an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children) with KABOOM!, The LA March Against Child Sex Trafficking, The Our House Grief Support 5k Hope Run benefiting grief support programs for children 6-17 experiencing the loss of a loved one, The BrittiCares International 5k Run for Pediatric Cancer, packing care packages for our U.S. Troops with Operation Gratitude, storytelling with Reading To Kids, serving food to families in need with The Boys and Girls Club Hot Meals Program, and The LA Purple Stride 5k Run for Pancreatic Cancer. This summer I will also be supporting The Children’s Bureau of Los Angeles, The Saving Innocence Org, Our House Grief Support Summer Camp, Relay for Life, The Art of Elysium, Children of Alcoholic Parents, Advocacy for Suicidal Teens and The Concepts in a Box Leadership and Film Boot Camp for Disadvantaged Teens.
Tell us about your platform:
I come from a very unique childhood and background which has made me extremely passionate about multiple charitable causes. I grew up in poverty surrounded by violence, drug addictions and alcohol abuse and at age 11, I was orphaned after the murder-suicide involving my father shooting my mother to her death and turning the gun on himself. I moved to a new place every year (including being homeless for several months before my first semester of college). I encountered physical and sexual abuse as a child and have also lost several family members to cancer and addictions. These experiences lead me to my desire to being an advocate for child abuse, domestic violence, suicide awareness, at-risk youth empowerment/education, homelessness & cancer. In the next 2-5 years I plan to start my own non-profit organization focused around providing love and education to orphaned, abused and at-risk children. I also plan to write an inspirational memoir over my life and personal success story. I entered the Miss United States Pageant system to gain a platform where I could have the opportunity to share my life story, impact the lives of others, inspire youth in my community and be introduced to the various branches of the non-profit realm in the state of California. From this experience I hope to build an extensive network of individuals and organizations that will help me strengthen my community involvement. I would like to gain access to more venues where I can vocalize the adversities I have overcome and provide inspiration and support to those experiencing the hardships I once lived through and survived. Pageantry opens infinite doors of opportunity for those who aspire to make a difference and for those who desire to have an impactful presence within their community.
Have you ever experienced bullying?
Unfortunately yes. In elementary school I was often teased for being the nerdy kid in band who wore the same clothes every week. Like I said, I grew up poor so clothing options were pretty limited. I remember one time when my shoes were falling apart and the children would make voices, pretending it was my shoes that were talking to them.
In middle school I was teased because of the way I walked. I walked with my feet facing outwards kind of like a duck waddling. The story behind that is I was born physically disabled with a condition called hip dysplasia (my hip was dislodged into my ribcage) as a result to a domestic dispute involving my father pushing my mother down a flight of stairs while pregnant. I would put myself through excruciating pain trying to walk like a normal person, just to feel like a normal person around my peers
In high school, I went from a nerdy, band geek to being curious about makeup and girlie things. Once I started dressing a little more feminine, the older girls would tease me about how ridiculous I looked trying to be something I’m not.
In college, I decided to join a predominately Caucasian sorority; however I was attending the university on a minority scholarship. This did not go over very well with the minority community on campus. I was teased so badly by other minorities because I did not join a minority specific sorority that I wanted to transfer schools to get away from it all. In my senior year, I relocated to Ole Miss for a semester to get away.
How did you first react to bullying?
I would cry. I’m a very sensitive person. I have a lot of things that have happened in my life that no one would ever know about and when I was younger I was too embarrassed to even talk about any of it. I never understood why people would want to intentionally hurt my feelings. I never did anything to deserve the way people treated me and I was always nice to others, so I didn’t understand any of it and never will.
How did you overcome bullying, and how has it made a difference in who you are today?
It clicked for me one day that I do not have to listen to what anyone has to say about me. Those people do not know my life or what I’m going through (or have gone through). If a person never took the time to get to know me, then they have no say over anything about me. It was pretty simple when it clicked. Only I can choose how someone can make me feel and I chose to ignore anything people wanted to say when it is negative or hurtful. Experiencing bullying has made me curious to learn what makes someone want to mistreat another person? So I chose to study sociology in college to gain a better understanding over the things that push people to mistreat others. Because of the way people put me down in the past, I am an overly nice person to everyone, especially strangers. You never know what’s going on in a person’s life and how your energy whether positive or negative could either push that person over the edge or lift their spirits. I chose to lift spirits.
Do you have any advice you can offer for our readers who may be bullied?
Love yourself. The minute you learn how to love yourself, you will also learn how to handle those that mistreat you. Kill them with kindness and hold your head high knowing you may be doing something through that kindness that could change the negative mentality of your bully.
What can our readers do within their communities to get involved?
GOOGLE!!! It is so easy to get involved these days. Just type in key words in Google’s search engine and look up events in your area. Find the point of contact for the event and email or call them and explain who you are and how you want to get involved! Then post it on your social networks and get together some of your friends to help you support the event. Volunteering is even more rewarding when you get to experience it with your friends or family.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
In the next five years I hope to be a full- time motivational speaker, well established with my nonprofit in multiple countries and a published author.
What does being a role model mean to you?
Being a role model is very important to me. I grew up an orphan. I felt alone a lot of the time and had a difficult time connecting with others as no one understood the things I had gone through, especially how it felt to lose both parents. I didn’t have many positive influences in my life and it’s a true blessing that I turned out the way I did. It was a tough childhood experience. With that said, there are hundreds and thousands of children out there living a childhood like mine (alone & afraid), and I want to be that person to educate them on the power of dreaming big. I want my testimony to inspire people all over the world to keep believing in the greater good and to fight for what they deserve; an equal opportunity to become their best self. The more people I can impact and provide positive influence will determine the greater number of people who will do the same to others after them in the future. Kindness is free and love is the universal language that all people can understand. No one should ever be mistreated, bullied, neglected, abused etc…and for those who are, I want to be the person they can turn to and say, “Brandy you survived XYZ and I can too…”
Keep up with Brandy!!