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Photo Credit: Brian Doben

On June 3, Rhode Island native Olivia Culpo, 20, was crowned Miss USA. Culpo was studying acting and communications at Boston University (she’s since taken a leave of absence) when she entered the Miss Rhode Island pageant on a whim, wearing a $25 rented dress. A cellist, Culpo has appeared at Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall and was, until recently, a performer with the Boston Accompanietta. Culpo is residing in New York during her reign, and is involved in numerous charities focused on women’s health. On Dec. 19, she’ll compete for the title of Miss Universe.

* For more from Olivia Culpo, listen to her on the Improper Podcast!

Oh, yeah. Thousands and thousands. People from elementary school you can’t quite remember trying to become your best friend.

I was at my mom’s house this weekend, and she did make me vacuum, but I was actually in sweatpants. So yes, beauty queens wear sweatpants, although not that frequently. And beauty queens vacuum.

Heels. I’m totally a girly girl.

I was able to be myself, which helps in anything you do in front of an audience. If you project personality or form a personal connection, you can do better than if you’re more reserved.

Number one: Drink a lot of water. It’s really important for your immune system and your general health, but it’s really important for your skin and to flush out toxins. Also, eat breakfast. It boosts your metabolism, and if you want to get into good eating habits, breakfast is where it starts. And green tea has a lot of antioxidants. A lot of tests say you age less by drinking a glass per day.

I said that there are so many people who need to make a major change—whether it’s surgery or whatever—to be happy, that if a woman or man went through that kind of procedure, they shouldn’t face discrimination. It’s just a choice to lead a happier life.

You’re going to get me in trouble. The cello is really a craft you have to master. You have to be so dedicated, work so hard, dedicate your entire life. Whereas being in a pageant is more about just being yourself, which shouldn’t take too much practice.

We need to institute more foreign exchange programs for the youth because they need to understand that there are different places and different people with very different ideas about things. To learn to respect that, especially if it’s instilled at an early age, makes people less likely to be intolerant.

For Miss USA, people assume you’re self-absorbed and narcissistic. I like to think of this title as an opportunity to reach out to others, be a role model and help people.

It’s a very strict diet. I work out, lifting weights and some cardio, every day. Low-fat protein and only healthy carbs. And eating five-to-six meals a day.

No, I didn’t do any of that. But there were girls backstage getting in their last set of crunches, contouring their abs, getting that bronze effect. I didn’t do any of that stuff.

Yes, but that’s everywhere in the world. Whether you’re in a beauty pageant or at Duane Reade, there’s going to be someone a little nasty. You just have to ignore it.

There’s a lot of hauling stuff around. We have the crown, and tons of other stuff. We have people to help us, but there are a lot of wardrobe changes.

I think I’m going to go back to school and study acting, either in New York or L.A. I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Boston, unfortunately.

Definitely. I’m just way too organized. I’m just going to have to admit it.

The uncertainty of every day. You have no idea what your schedule’s going to be.

Smile. A lot of the time, girls get caught up in what they look like, or what’s coming next, and they forget to let their inner confidence and beauty shine.

I actually love the bikini part because everybody has a different body, and nobody is perfect, so that moment is really about your personality and what you can exude. It’s not so much about physical appearance as your confidence and spirit.

I would’ve said, “Shut up!” Maybe I would’ve said, “Gracie Lou Freebush?” The character Sandra Bullock plays in Miss Congeniality.

I love anything related to peanut butter, so I’m going to go with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

There’s a lot more international travel. And my causes for Miss USA are breast and ovarian cancer. For Miss Universe, it’s generally focused on AIDS awareness and HIV.

No. I see myself going into acting. Maybe Broadway. That would be fun!

Oh, God. There’s so much I miss! But I’ll go with running along the Charles.

Credits: hair: Mitch Barry/Bryan Bantry; makeup: Kim Bower/ Exclusive Artists Management; styling: Stacey Jones; wardrobe: shirt and pants with cummerbund at; earrings at