With a seemingly perpetual smile and an upbeat attitude, reigning Miss New Jersey USA, Libell Duran, finally found beauty pageant glory last year. The Dominican beauty competed numerous times for the Garden State crown. Finally, it came together last October. Previously coming up short in the Miss New Jersey and Miss Dominican Republic pageants did not frustrate this beauty queen, as she always believed better times were ahead.
With a little more than a month left in her reign as Miss New Jersey USA 2013, the 22 year old William Patterson University student sat down with us to reflect about her year as the queen of the Garden State, what is ahead for her future and how she became good friends with past CYInterview guest, the now former Miss Florida USA, Michelle Aguirre, at the Miss USA pageant – among many other topics.
You can read the highlights and listen to the entire CYInterview with Miss New Jersey below:
Listen to the entire Miss New Jersey USA 2013 CYInterview:
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Summing up the last 11 months, the 2013 Miss New Jersey, a ravishing Dominican beauty told us this:
“As you know I’ve been competing in pageants since the age of 17 and every time you just keep on learning something differently. This year I learned that everything is possible and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That’s just the way of life. But it’s been a great experience being Miss New Jersey and I would love to do this again if possible, but I know I have to give up my crown in October.”
Speaking of her pageant future, Miss New Jersey tells us there will not be any future beauty competitions as she wants to pursue other avenues:
“This is my last pageant. I told my dad, I said, ‘Dad, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about me using your credit card anymore. This is the last pageant.’ ‘Cause I wanna, you know, finish my studies in communications and criminal justice. … For now, I just want to be a regular person, you know, just go to school, finish my studies and maybe I’ll do some modeling work in between. … I would love to become either crime scene investigator or air marshal. So those are my goals right now.”
Being the Garden State queen has given Libell the chance to reach out to her community. She tells us why that has been the most important thing for her:
“Being a role model to all those kids out there from the community, you know there’s like a lot of kids from my community that think that it’s not possible in life to reach goals and it is. Everything is possible, all your dreams could become a reality. You just have to be motivated, determined and never give up.”
Summing up her experience at the Miss USA pageant in June in Las Vegas, the Dominicana tells us it was fantastic. She made amazing friendships even though she did not become Miss USA. One of the friends she made was past CYInterview guest, the now former Miss Florida USA Michelle Aguirre.
It was back in May that we exclusively covered Michelle’s Miss Florida going away party, prior to the Miss USA pageant [see here]. When Michelle and Libell both arrived in Las Vegas for the pageant, Libell says the two connected and, consequently, Miss New Jersey and Miss Florida went every together. Last month, the two went on vacation together in Cancun, Mexico. They are planning to spend some time hanging out in Miami, in the future. She tells us about making that connection with Michelle:
“Michelle, she is a remarkable girl. She’s amazing, I love her. Ever since Miss USA we just kind of made that click and it was always me, California and New Mexico. Everywhere, you know, she was, I was always there. We were always together. She’s a tremendous girl. … I love Miami. I am actually planning a trip over there to visit Michelle, you know to spend a little bit more time with her. I just love the weather. It’s always nice.”
One of the standout moments from the Miss USA pageant, for Libell, was getting to meet another past CYInterview guest, [see here] Giuliana Rancic of E! News. The entertainment news personality hosted the contest. It was back in March of this year we finally met Giuliana and her husband Bill Rancic, winner of season one of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice at the 24 hour Fashion Show on South Beach [see here].
“For me it was just really nice to like finally meet Giuliana Rancic because she’s my girl crush and she’s like the most amazing, nicest person ever and I got to see her again in Cancun and I met Bill. He’s so hot. … They’re such a nice couple.”
Growing up, Ms. Duran was the chubby kid who never thought she would be a beauty queen. But with good healthy choices and overcoming other obstacles, she now dons the tiara and sash for all to see:
“Up the age of 15 I use to be a size 9-10 and 11-12 in women. Then as the age 16, 17 I just started losing the weight, you know maintaining the healthy lifestyle, eating the right fruits and it was really, really hard. The way I overcome it was just staying motivated, determined and saying, ‘You know what? I can do this.’ It was a hard process, but I did it and anyone else can too.”
Talking about her Dominican roots and what people should know about the Dominican Republic, the Latina told us this:
“I love being over there. I love visiting. When my grandparents were alive we use to visit like every year, but they recently passed away. So we just go, you know, here and there. It’s beautiful. The people are so nice. The food, which I love. … We have like really nice beaches in Bavaro, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and they should definitely visit over there.”
Before becoming the reigning Miss New Jersey USA, Libell competed in the Miss Dominican Republic pageant and nearly ended up becoming that country’s beauty queen. She told us how the Miss USA and Miss Dominican Republic pageants are different:
“There are some slight differences. I would just say the way that the organization works. I mean, each organization works differently. … The girls at Miss USA were much nicer than the girls in the Dominican Republic, you know that Latinas are known to be really fierce and catty. So definitely the girls were nicer at Miss USA.”
The Latina says she looks up to fellow Dominicans, like A-list actress, past CYInterview guest Zoe Saldana [see here] and Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega. However, her biggest inspiration is her 27 year old sister Ivette who has dealt with spina bifida her whole life. Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the spine. It is one of the most common birth defects in America. Libell hopes to create a spina bifida foundation in both the United States and the Dominican Republic to bring awareness to what people, like her sister, have to deal with in their lives:
“I look up to my sister. I have an older sister. Her name is Ivette. She is 27 years old and has spina bifida. … I look up to her just because she has showed me that you can never take anything in life for granted and always be happy for everything that you have. … I would love to achieve that goal one day, you know, and right now I am working with different organizations, Leap Foundation and also Spina Bifida Association in Maryland. So I am working with kids. I just love working with kids and I just want them to have a voice. You know, they are normal, they could do a lot things just like my sister.”
Being one of New Jersey’s newest celebrities, she tells us what people should know about the state:
“They should know that we are not like the Jersey Shore. We do not go tanning every single day. We are simple people. We work hard. We’re positive and we’re just great people to be around.”
Beyond being Miss New Jersey, Libell wants people to know this about her:
“I just want people to know that although I am Miss New Jersey, you know, I am reachable. I’m the nicest person out there that you could always talk to. Pageant girls are not known as the girls that always have the best makeup, the best hair, the best wardrobe. We’re just normal people trying to achieve goals in life.”
As she gets ready to take her final walk at the 2014 Miss New Jersey USA pageant next month, the Latina beauty queen tells us how she wants to be remembered:
“I give up my crown in October and I’m so sad. Just like last week I had to send my director Cindy my farewell speech and I was crying throughout the whole entire process. I just want people to know that, I just want people to know that, you know New Jersey, after what happened with the hurricane and everything, we’re just strong people. Giving up my crown as Miss New Jersey, I will always be Miss New Jersey 2013 and to the next upcoming queen, I just wish her the best.”
You can follow Miss New Jersey Libell Duran on Twitter here.
You can find more information about the Miss New Jersey USA pageant here .
You can follow the Miss New Jersey USA Facebook page here.
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com
You can follow Chris Yandek on Twitter here.