New Miss USA Voices Support for Transgender Beauty Queens
LAS VEGAS (AP) - The nation’s newest Miss USA winner is a Rhode Island cellist who describes herself as a nerd and aspires to be more like Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn.
Olivia Culpo shares Hepburn’s European heritage and dark brown hair and soon they will share something else. Culpo said after winning her crown Sunday night that she plans to go to Tiffany & Co. in New York and recreate Hepburn’s iconic opening scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany’s."
Culpo, a Boston University sophomore, will take a year off from her studies to tackle her duties as Miss USA and represent the nation in the 61st Miss Universe contest in December. The 20-year-old said she wished she could have shared her crown with her 50 competitors during the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Culpo strutted across the stage in a lilac bikini, then donned a flowing fuchsia gown with sparkly trim around her waist and décolletage. After making it to the final five, Culpo voiced her support for transgender beauty queens during the make-or-break interview round.
"Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?" asked celebrity judge Rob Kardashian. The question came from a pageant follower on Twitter, a first for the competition.
Culpo didn’t hesitate before embracing the Miss Universe Organization’s recent decision to admit transgender contestants.
"I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country," Culpo said.
Culpo said after the pageant that she wasn’t put off by the question when she heard it.
"This is a free country and to each their own," she said.
Culpo said she was short and chubby as a girl, but blossomed after a growth spurt. She spent her summers at band camp after learning to play the cello in second grade. Her parents are also musicians, and her love for music saw her perform at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Culpo is a 2010 graduate of St. Mary Academy Bay View, an all-girls Catholic school in Riverside, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. She said she comes from a big, Italian family and speaks some Italian. On her Twitter account, she describes herself as a nerd and model.