Welcome back to Lady Code! Today I am so excited to share our interview with Miss New York United States 2016, Jenifer DeCillis! Jennifer is a model, event host, and Marketing Director for a luxury hospitality group. She lives between Southampton and New York City, but she travels often and loves to be on the road. Jennifer is a former Miss New Jersey, graduate of Temple University and a Level 1 Sommelier. Pageantry is her passion, but her family is her heart.
Hometown: Marlton, New Jersey
Current City: New York City, New York
Hobbies: Traveling, being a foodie, wine tasting and hot yoga
Favorite food: I order salmon everywhere I go, but if I could live on pizza I would!
Favorite movie: I’m more of a TV show binge watcher, so OITNB and GOT!
Three words that sum you up: Spontaneous, driven, goofy
Song you have on repeat right now: Kygo, “Im in love”
Dream job: Red Carpet host for E! News
Beauty product you can’t live without: Becca Cream Concealer
Favorite quote: “Character cannot be developed in quiet and ease. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
Having a title keep you pretty busy! What is a typical day like for you? My schedule is different, and busy, everyday, but I absolutely love it! I am the Marketing Director for one of the largest hospitality groups in Southampton, so some days I am glued to my phone, others my laptop and some I spend running to venues, meeting with clients and managing media outreach. I am also a model based in New York City and an event host for Tropic Beauty. My pageant days, though, as Miss New York are my longest and most rewarding. Yesterday I accompanied a two city councilmen and one mayor to nine different events. We visited senior centers, ribbon cutting ceremonies, charity concerts and political parties. I am blessed to represent a state as great as New York and I try to remain as active as possible!
What has been the highlight of being Miss New York so far? I love the moments that remind me of why I sought out to win this crown and sash and its not just because they are beautiful. The outpouring of love and support I have received from family, friends, loved ones and fans has truly touched my heart. The lives I have touched are also the highlights of my reign thus far. Meeting young girls who begin to follow my journey and express how much they look up to me and want to be like me is why I strive to us this platform to the best of my ability and to inspire others.
What are some of your best beauty secrets to looking flawless all the time? One of my best secrets to looking flawless is sleep! Although, in this industry, sleep can be a luxury. For my long days, when I know I’m looking exhausted, I rely on an amazing concealer, Becca at the moment. Also, lashes! A good set of lashes can change your face and your entire look.
What is your go-to makeup look? I am a makeup addict and love having a full face whenever I can. Typically a good base, I like Tarte for coverage, earth-toned eyes and a neutral lip is my daily go-to. NARS is one of my favorite brands and if they sell it, I probably own it!
Growing up, who was your inspiration? This is easy one. Hands down, my mother. I have never known a more selfless, strong, intelligent, inspiring woman. She raised three kids on her own, sometimes working two jobs, and still always made us her number one priority. I never went without and never felt that the unequivocal abundance of love I received from one parent was not enough. I only pray that I can be half the woman and mother she is one day.
Lady Code has a focus on anti-bullying and women empowerment. Do you have any advice for our readers who may be victims of bullying? Not only do I have younger siblings that have experienced bullying, but I too was once a victim of bullying. Honestly, it can be hard sometimes to look at the light at the end of the tunnel when you are a victim of something like bullying. That being said, my advice would be to try your hardest to see that light and not let the words and actions of others deter you from your path and pursuing your day to day life. I look at my former bullies now with compassion. I used that hate as fuel towards becoming a better person, if anything gained strength from the torment, and know now that those who throw stones are often the ones struggling with something within themselves. Don’t give up and don’t let anyone change you from the beautiful person you are, because you WILL persevere.
Tell us about your platform: As Miss New York, I try not to limit myself to any one cause, because I feel as though there are so many opportunities in my city to volunteer and get involved. Although, while attending the annual National Meningitis Association Gala this spring, a chord was struck within me. I knew I wanted to help and not just by making an appearance. I decided to petition to hold a seat on the board of the NMA and when all executive committee members approved, I was blown away. I can proudly say that I am now the National Meningitis Association Outreach Ambassador, engaging, educating and influencing the public on our cause and mission. A devastating, sometimes fatal disease, Meningitis, more formally Meningococcal disease, devastates lives. With proper education, exposure to the information at hand and vaccinations, lives can be saved. Please, visit my Facebook page, as well as http://www.nmaus.org, for ways to get involved.
What can Lady Code readers do in their communities to get involved? Getting involved in your community is easier than most people think and is very rewarding. There are an abundance of websites and social media outlets that offer lists of events, volunteer opportunities, charity functions and ways for you to donate your time. The National Philanthropy of Miss United States National is the Share Our Strength Organization and the No Kid Hungry Program. If you’d like to join us in ending childhood hunger in America, visit http://www.nokidhungry.org for ways to get involved near you! It is easy to be kind, and you never know, you may actually fall in love with helping others.
In your free time, what do you enjoy doing? I love to travel, literally anywhere and everywhere. When I’m at home, though, I spend my summer days in the Hamptons. Our beaches are absolutely beautiful and there is always something going on. There is a gorgeous stretch of vineyards along Long Island and as a new sommelier, I am trying to visit them all! Staying active is obviously a large part of my daily routine and my mission towards my Miss United States National body, so i like to switch it up. Swimming, running and cycling are fun, but running around New York City to different restaurants, museums and parks is my favorite exercise!
What is one thing you can’t live without? Since I am always on the go, and currently living between two cities, I’ll share what typically goes into my carryall bag. My crown and sash are always with me, you never know when you might need them. I always pack a good dress and pair of nude pumps, in case the occasion calls for it, and my occasions usually do. There is forever a pair of running shoes in my backset, since I try to sneak in a workout whenever time allows. My makeup bag literally never leaves my purse and my curling iron isn’t far behind. Lastly, my laptop and my phone are always on hand, I never stop working or staying connected!
What is the hardest part about competing in pageants? The hardest part about competing in anything, especially pageants, is the pressure I put on myself. Pageants can be scrutinizing, especially on ones physical appearance. I am my toughest critic and feel as though I can always be doing better, working out more, attending more events or putting more time into pageant preparation. I push myself, sometimes harder than I should, and I am working on being more content with the milestones I do reach.
What is the best part about competing in pageants? Starting pageant a little later in life than most, I have taken two very important things away with me. The first is the amazing girl and women I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with. I have made lifelong friends through competing in pageants and always try to take something away from everyone I meet. The second is the woman that pageants have cultivated me into. I have learned so much about myself and grown and matured in ways that I never would have if it weren’t for competing in pageants. Those things are irreplaceable and I cherish them dearly.
What is the best advice you have ever received? I am blessed to be able to say that I have the most supportive family, in everything I do, and they are always guiding and inspiring me with their wisdom. There is one moment, though, one piece of advice that still lives on in my memory. My grandfather, God rest his soul, sat me down a long time ago, as a young girl, and I still picture his face when he said this. “You are a beautiful girl, but never let that get to your head. It is who you are on the inside and how you treat people that makes you truly beautiful. Never forget that.” I never have.
Keep up with Jennifer:
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/MissNewYorkUnitedStates