A crowning moment
Introducing the new Ms. United States, Graziella Baratta. Read her interview to find out the best advice she ever received, the ways she stays fit, and how she will spread the message of healthy living to women and girls across the country.
Hometown: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
You were recently crowned Ms. United States. What do you plan to accomplish while serving under that title?
This year I am eager to promote my two platforms which are very dear to my heart: “Healthy Habits for Life” and “I aM for Women (Inspiration and Motivation for Women).” In addition to my personal experience, I use the knowledge obtained from my personal training certification and bachelor’s degree in dance to promote these platforms.
I will connect with various organizations, like girlshealth.gov and womenshealth.gov, to spread my messages. I have a blog where I’ll feature everything I am doing during my reign. It will include topics on my platforms and answers to readers’ questions. I also have an Internet TV show where I talk about my platform messages and connect with fans. I want to reach out to as many people as possible, especially through the Internet because it is the outlet that younger generations utilize more and more. I plan to use my reign to its fullest potential to promote my platforms and get as much exposure as possible. I hope to inspire others to achieve their wildest dreams, because I truly believe that anything is possible—as long as you BELIEVE.
Tell us a little more about the Ms. United States competition and all it entailed.
The Ms. United States Pageant was held from July 13-17, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada where finalists from all across the country competed for the title. Throughout the pageant week, contestants rehearsed for the show and attended a lot of events. We competed in the categories of personal interview, swimwear, eveningwear, and onstage interview. It was such an exciting experience! The judges were looking for a well-rounded, accomplished woman who embodies a positive spirit. I am honored that they chose me!
How did you become involved in beauty pageants?
I actually participated in one beauty pageant when I was 13, disliked it, and didn’t compete again until I was about 20 years old. I was influenced by a good family friend because we both danced and thought it was a great way to showcase our talent and acquire scholarship money for college.
What is your favorite part of competing in pageants?
I love the fact that, in many ways, pageants push you to become a better person. I became motivated to stay fit, be more involved in my community, and meet new people. It’s an all-around way to improve yourself; it’s very rewarding.
What advice would you give to other girls wanting to compete in competitions such as Ms. United States?
The most important thing to remember is to be true to yourself. Winners are genuine women who truly believe in what they promote, and shine with confidence from the inside out! Above all, compete in pageants to have a good time and challenge yourself, not others.
What do you do you stay physically fit?
I vary my workouts all the time and I do not belong to a gym! I actually workout about 4 times a week from home with a mix of cardio and strength training exercises. Being a professional dancer, I try to save my knees by varying my workouts which actually proves to be more effective in achieving results. I use light to medium weights, a balance ball, and a yoga mat to perform resistance and strength exercises. I have a host of kick-boxing, dance, and yoga videos that I rotate. I also walk outdoors when the weather is nice. In addition to working out, I teach dance 4 days a week and rehearse/perform with my dance company G-Volution. A large part of staying physically fit is eating well-balanced, healthy meals focused on whole foods. I don’t eat anything processed—ever!
What activities did you do as a teenager to stay active and healthy?
As a teenager, I didn’t like any sports, but I found my first love in dance. I took weekly dance classes from a local studio and was a member of my high school’s nationally-ranked dance team. We were a very competitive squad that practiced 6-12 hours weekly, and danced for the football and basketball games. We competed in countless competitions, were undefeated state champions, and won third place in the nation my senior year.
What is the best advice you received as a teenager?
It is cliché, but very true: “Be yourself.” It is the best piece of advice I have ever received! There is nothing more fulfilling to me than to be yourself—an advocate for what you believe in and who you are. To me, being yourself is having the courage of your convictions and living life genuinely.
Who or what are your inspirations?
I am inspired by life, and by my loved ones. They are a huge support system for me, and I love to watch them react to what I do. I am also inspired by great historical figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein, and former pageant titleholders who have used their lives to create beauty, innovate, and inspire others. Anyone who makes a difference, whether big or small, inspires me to be a better person and do the same.
You stay pretty busy between dancing, choreographing, performing, and directing-on top of your duties as Ms. United States. When you do have free time, what do you enjoy doing?
When I have free time, I mostly hang out with family and friends. I really value my time with them since most of us are so busy. I enjoy cooking for them. Cooking is a great passion of mine—it helps me relax and is very therapeutic, especially when I create healthier versions of my favorite foods. If I have “alone time” I love to read books and magazines on health, fitness, and history, as well as mystery novels.
Do you plan to compete in any more pageants?
Not anytime soon. I am quite happy with my accomplishment as Ms. United States! I think if I compete again, it would be for a “Mrs.” pageant in the future, when I am married.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, I have many plans! In short, I intend to live life to the fullest and embrace all that it brings me with open arms. I look forward to being successful with my dance and image consulting companies and sharing my love for the performing arts, health, and fitness with as many people as possible! Beyond that, I hope to have a family of my own one day and grow old gracefully.
Content last reviewed September 01, 2008
Page last updated September 01, 2008