One in every ten people you know will battle feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, self harm and even suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, depression does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime; man, woman or child. Jacqueline Giancola, who’ll be competing for the crown of Miss Alabama USA in a few days, herself has struggled with anxiety and depressionover the past few years. She would like to share her story on the Miss USA stage and shows that if she overcame the disease, then any person anywhere can get through what they are going through as well – “There was a time where I had to really look in the mirror and ask myself, do you want to end up like your friends who took their own lives? Do you want to do that to your friends and family? Do you want to do that to yourself? And the answer was no. I wanted to continue living and I wanted to be able to help others struggling with similar things that I was struggling with” – she explained.
This past summer Jacqueline has lost 12 close relatives and friends, 3 of whom took their own lives – “I would like to speak about suicide and bring more awareness and attention to the issue globally. I never want to see another child bury their parent to suicide, or worse, another parent bury their child!”
In addition to her commitment the beauty queen is a professional opera singer, actress, model and current student. Her main focus at the moment is her Opera singing. She was awarded a presidential scholarship to study opera, and this past summer she travelled all over Spain and sang in Basilica’s and Cathedrals across the country. When she’s not working, she is a student at the University of Alabama Honors College, majoring in International Business and Spanish.
I had the opportunity to interview Jacqueline a few days before the Miss Alabama USA Pageant. Her dedication and hard work towards her goals will surely take her long on the road of victory!
My inspiration to begin pageants when I was only 15 years old was so that pageants could introduce me to the entertainment industry and hopefully give me some modeling, acting and singing opportunities.
What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?
I expect to gain great friendships, connections and confidence from this pageant. Whenever I have come out of a pageant, win or lose, I come out with friends for life and an immense sense of self confidence. I know that getting on stage in front of hundreds of people is not an easy thing to do, and just knowing that I have/had the courage to do that brings me confidence.
Not only that, but even from the Miss Teen USA 2015 pageant I still have friends that will be my bridesmaids someday and have come to visit me at home or at college and vice versa. We still keep in contact every single day and some of them are even coming to the Miss Alabama USA 2018 pageant to support me! How lucky am!
Social media seem to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not?
I have noticed that social media plays a huge role in pageantry and I do think that it is advantageous for not only myself, but everyone else involved in the competition. Social media really gives audiences, directors and judges the opportunity to see what a person is like and how they behave in their daily lives, and that I think is important in getting to know someone. How you portray yourself on social media is a huge reflection on yourself and your character, and being able to show that to the world is a huge advantage.
Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?
There have been countless moments where I have faced disappointment in myself throughout this journey. I have learned that success isn’t a straight upward climb, sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take 2 steps forwards. When I was going through a tough time this summer as I was attending funerals almost weekly, I wanted to give up completely. I didn’t even think that I had the strength to get up out of bed anymore, let alone get to the gym, eat right and take care of myself. Mentally I was a mess and wanted to withdraw from the competition.
However with the help of my remaining friends and family reminding me that I am capable of anything I put my mind to, I continued with my commitment to enter this pageant. They believed in me, which then helped me to believe in myself. If it weren’t for them helping me through the loss and tough times, I wouldn’t be getting on the Miss Alabama USA stage.
We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you’ll make a difference ?
The way that I think I will make a difference in doing this pageant is showing people that if they believe in themselves, they can do anything and get through anything. I myself have struggled with anxiety and depression over the past few years, and it especially came to light this summer with all of the loss. There was a time where I had to really look in the mirror and ask myself, do you want to end up like your friends who took their own lives? Do you want to do that to your friends and family? Do you want to do that to yourself? And the answer was no. I wanted to continue living and I wanted to be able to help others struggling with similar things that I was struggling with. Through this pageant and hopefully pageants in the future, I want to share my story and show that if I can get through what I have and hopefully become Miss Alabama USA, then any person anywhere can get through what they are going through as well.
What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?
My advice to a young girl who dreams of being a queen one day is to go for it! There is never any harm in trying and putting yourself out there. The worst thing that can come of entering a pageant is not coming away with the crown, but if you don’t enter in the first place you don’t walk away with the crown either! Always give yourself a shot at your dreams and if you believe in yourself, you’re already halfway there.
Who is your ideal beauty queen and how has she helped you to evolve as a beauty queen?
A person I look up to most in the pageant world has to be Olivia Jordan. She was crowned Miss USA during my year as Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2015 and I always remember her being personable, approachable, goal oriented and motivating. I looked up to her and still follow her and her life journey to this day. She always has a positive message to spread on social media, and her smile lights up a room and spreads positive energy to all. She is exactly the kind of person that I aspire to be, and I hope that one day I can impact as many lives as she has.
Thanks to the beautiful Jacqueline for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Alabama USA pageant.