As a child growing up in Brentwood, Long Island, Miss New York USA, Briana Siaca could never have envisioned a future as a beauty queen.
“Brentwood is made up of con artists and people who are just trying to survive. You are surrounded by violence, ”Siaca told The Post of the life of a“ painfully shy ”youngster in the middle of the MS-13 riddled area. “I knew all about drugs and gangs when I was 10 years old. We couldn’t play outside, there were constant beatings and shootings. There is no place to dream.
Now the 27-year-old, who works as an operations manager for a global investment firm, is ready to enter the Miss USA pageant, which airs live on FYI at 8 p.m. Monday. Siaca has spent the past six years striving to win the statewide competition and get there.
“It was really difficult to face loss every year,” said the Long Island City resident, noting that losing was never an option. “I knew victory was at hand.”
Raised by a single father, an army vet who worked in construction, Siaca was a tomboy who learned to change a flat tire years before she knew how to apply mascara. “I didn’t have that positive female role model growing up,” Siaca told The Post just before flying to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the big contest. “My sister became a teenage mother when she was 15. “
She chose to follow another path. “I decided in high school that I wanted a better life for myself,” she said. Siaca applied to Pace University to study chemistry and was accepted. His father had to refinance his house to help pay for his school fees.
In 2015, her interest in pageants was piqued when she was leafing through a school report card featuring a Miss New York USA. “I was alone and insecure. I wanted to challenge myself with something to help me grow, ”she said. “Something that would do me good and absolutely terrify me.” ”
Preparing for her Miss New York USA pageant debut in 2016 was a transformation, both physical and emotional. “Growing up, I wasn’t a beautiful girl,” said Siaca, who noted that she was always embarrassed by her oversized glasses and frizzy hair.
“I didn’t know much about makeup or hair styling and never went to the gym before competitions – it was kind of a crash course before my first competition,” she said.
But she placed first. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I think they loved that I brought fresh energy and innocence.”
The platform changed the way she saw herself intellectually: “I never felt like I had a voice. I felt like I was suffering in silence, ”she said. “I went from the girl who didn’t speak before I spoke to the girl who can’t shut up.”
She became addicted to the thrill of competition – and entered every year for six consecutive years, consistently placing in the top five.
Before her last competition last August – the maximum age for contestants is 27 – she realized that her dream of winning might not come true. “I was okay with any result and it changed my energy as well,” she said. “I thought about my community and what I could do with the title. This time, there was a calm in me.
Then, at the Resorts World Catskills in a sea of 160 competitors, she won. “I could not believe it. I just started to cry, ”she said. The newly crowned Queen tearfully dedicated her victory to the “little girls of Brentwood who don’t think they are worthy of their dreams”.
Now she is going back to her middle and high schools to talk to kids about building self-confidence. She also volunteers for the non-profit organization Girls Inc., which advocates for underprivileged girls. She recently organized a “Trust Project” where she shared ideas with the children about cultivating self-esteem. Miss New York judge Antonio Estrada was dazzled by Siaca. “She was calm, elegant and real. Her story, where she comes from a single father, is so moving, ”said the fashion designer. “She’s someone a lot of people can admire – she’s so inspiring.”
But behind the glamorous facade of the competition lies hard work, Siaca said. She sleeps eight hours a night, with the lights off at 11 a.m. and an alarm clock at 7 a.m. She goes to the gym before and after work, doing a lot of weight lifting, bench presses, and squats. There is water workout, primarily by simply reducing water intake two days before a contest, a process designed to reduce water retention and help emphasize abdominal definition on stage. “It’s pretty intense. When I train for a competition, nothing stops me.
And it’s not cheap either: most applicants have a squad, including coaches and personal trainers, and need to purchase their own dresses and jewelry. “They call it ‘rich girls’ sport,” she said. “And I’m definitely not a rich girl. Every dollar I made, I put it in. I would finance myself. Siaca has shelled out thousands of dresses and coaches. While she now has sponsors contributing to her training, including her workplace, GEM (Global Emerging Markets), Siaca has admitted that preparation is a full-time job in addition to her full-time job. At 5ft 6in, she has been busy practicing walking with her eightin heels, praying not to fall. “This year I found out that I am one of the shorter contenders,” she said.
Despite its success, the pageant life is not a summer camp. “I don’t make friends at these contests – the girls don’t want to talk to me,” Siaca said during a February 2021 podcast, “Podcast and Chill,” of the hard-working process. But she respects all competitors. “They are some of the most powerful, complete and dynamic women in the world. ”
The Big Apple beauty queens are known to be particularly fierce, which makes Siaca’s success over the years all the more notable. “New York is arguably one of the most competitive states to win,” said the self-described “last bloomer”.
The “very single” beauty queen admitted that since her victory more guys are coming out of the woods, slipping into her DMs with cheeky – but above all respectful – date requests.
“[There are] more than I would like to admit, ”she said. “[But], I respect them, it takes a lot of courage.
To stay focused, she keeps her appointments until the end of the contest. It’s not the only thing she looks forward to once her tiara days are behind her. What else is on the agenda after the competition? “An extra side of fries would be cool,” she laughed.
Make-up: Briana Siaca
Hair: Antonio Estrada
Style: Estrada Twins