Tag Archives: National American Miss

Pride of Howard Beach: Joli Russo to compete in upcoming pageants

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Lisa Russo

The sky’s the limit for one young Howard Beach star.

Joli Russo is a beauty pageant winner and an actress who has appeared in movies and television — and she is only nine-years-old.

Russo recently finished working on her second short film, “Dream of Flying,” directed by actress and model Georgina Chapman. Now she is preparing to compete in the upcoming International Junior Miss beauty pageant as Miss Italy in the princess division for ages 7 to ten. The competition runs from July 22 through 27.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic, because she shows that she is a true leader and that she is an upcoming, rising star,” mother Lisa Russo said.

The girl started doing beauty pageants when she was six years old at a family friend’s suggestion. Despite losing her first pageant, National American Miss, she enjoyed the journey and vowed to return to the spotlight the following year.

“I never knew about pageants when I was little. But once I did, it the first year, I was like, ‘Mommy I want to do it again,’” Russo said.

The next year, she placed fourth in the contest and the year after that, she finally captured the crown. Since then, Russo has competed in other competitions to win two more titles. Russo enjoys it so much that she has her eyes set on the ultimate prize; Miss Universe.

“I love doing pageants because for me, it’s so much fun and you get to show off your personality. And I make new friends in pageants,” Russo said. “On my first pageant I was very nervous. But once I got used to it, I learned to relax and show my personality.”

Aside from pageants, Russo appeared in episodes of “What Would You Do?” with ABC correspondent John Quinones. Last year, she recorded a radio advertisement for McDonalds and had a role in “Thanks Dad,” a short film by director Victor Bruno. It was featured as a finalist in the 2012 Tropfest, an international short film festival.

Recognizing the importance of charity, Russo uses her current title as Miss New York Junior Pre-teen to do food and clothing drives and a costume drives for Halloween. Because both parents are cancer survivors, she dreams of becoming a doctor and finding a cure for the disease.

For the upcoming pageant, Russo is representing Italy, because of her family and the Italian groups that sponsor her. Those include the Columbus Day Foundation.

Russo has prepared an eloquent introduction speech that’s sure to grab the judges’ attention. As for the talent portion, she will tap into her acting experience and recite a scene from the Broadway play “Matilda.”

“I think I really do have a good shot to win this pageant,” She said. “I have been practicing very hard and I’ve done pageants for a very long time.”



Whitestone girl wins Miss New York Junior Teen title

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Karen McQuade

Whitestone pageant teen Katherine McQuade wears her crown proudly.

The 16-year-old won the title of Miss New York Junior Teen during this year’s National American Miss statewide competition in August. The state queen wowed a panel of judges in Brooklyn and beat out 144 other hopefuls in her southern division.

McQuade did not go on to win the national contest this November in California, but the once-shy borough beauty said feeling comfortable in her skin is the real prize.

“I think competing has helped me with so many different things in life,” she said. “I was an extremely shy little girl when I first started pageants [at age 10]. I’m so much more confident. I know who I am, and I have pageants to thank for that.”

But the Professional Performing Arts High School student and dancer did not go home empty handed in the country-wide competition.

She placed second runner up in casual wear modeling, fourth runner up in talent, second runner up in the “best thank you note” contest, first runner up in the art contest, first runner up in the scrapbook contest and first runner up in volunteer service. McQuade also won the prestigious “Golden Achievement in Service Award.”

“It was truly amazing,” McQuade said. “I was very excited and felt really blessed winning those awards. It showed my hard work paid off.”

That hard work, the teen said, includes prepping for long periods of time with a coach and squeezing in time between school and homework to rehearse speeches and improve her dance.

McQuade hopes her dedication will help her place in her next contest, the USA Ambassador Pageant held in Connecticut — where she’ll go to compete in February – and ultimately land her a role in Radio City Music Hall as a renowned Rockette.

“I think competing for me is just everything,” she said. “Pageants are meant to empower women. I feel amazing now. I’m not scared. I’m confident. I’m growing. I am a girl with dreams.”