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words by Michelle Ganney

photos by Solmaz Saberi

From being crowned Miss Rhode Island USA in 2012 to her starring role in the upcoming thriller American Satan and being a beauty and wellness contributing editor for Byrdie.com, at just 24-years-old Olivia’s career has catapulted to new heights. BELLO mag sat down with the beauty and fashion guru to talk about her upcoming projects and what she’s learnt from being a part of this crazy industry.

BELLO MAG: Since winning Miss Rhode Island, Miss USA and Miss Universe, you’re career has taken off massively. You say you entered Miss Rhode Island on a whim. What made you do it?

OLIVIA CULPO: I decided to enter my first pageant (Miss Rhode Island) because I wanted to work on my stage presence. At the time, I was studying communications and acting at Boston University and I thought a pageant could potentially help with stage fright and poise.

BM: You come from a big family, are any of them in the entertainment industry?

OC: My mom and dad both met at college studying music and began their professional careers as musicians. My mom still plays the viola for the Boston symphony and Boston pops. My older brother plays the bass guitar in a band and my younger brother plays piano. Everyone plays an instrument and we have always been a very musical family. My father eventually left the professional music world and now owns restaurants in Boston and Rhode Island.

BM: Despite social media being a great platform, there is also a lot of room for criticism and backlash. Do you feel you have to think about everything you post?

OC: I think having a big following makes me feel like I need to be cautious about what I post. Unfortunately, posts can easily be misinterpreted, especially within the text. I try to have a positive message and definitely steer clear of posting anything that I think could be considered offensive to someone. At the end of the day, I want to strive to be myself whether in person or over social media.

BM: As well as modeling you’ve also ventured into film with your appearance in ‘The Other Woman’. Is this something you’d like to explore more? What kind of role would you like to play in the future?

OC: I just finished filming American Satan and I am going to start work on another film in September/October. I really love acting. It’s a whole new way of expressing myself and challenging myself. I love the idea of getting out of your own way for a minute and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It gives me perspective.

BM: Tell me a little bit about your role in ‘American Satan’.

OC: I’m really excited for my role in American Satan! This is my first major role in a film and I had so much fun filming. I haven’t even seen it yet so I will keep you posted! My character is the sweet and loving girlfriend trying to save a self-destructive man, but in the end she makes tough decisions that are right for her happiness.

BM: Are there any actresses or actors that you’d particularly like to work with?

OC: I am a huge fan of Sandra Bullock. She manages to be credible as an actor but can still star in a fun, light-hearted romantic comedy.

BM: I know you’re very into healthy eating and you love to cook. What are some of your favourite meals to make?

OC: I do love cooking and currently I am obsessed with sweet potato! I just recently made “sweet potato toast” and tested a ton of different topping options. It’s low carb and soooooo good.  My favorite aspect of cooking is to find ways to make my favorite foods healthier but still maintain flavor.

BM: You have a minority ownership in a new restaurant concept called Back 40 in North Kingstown. Has this opened yet

OC: My restaurant the Back 40 hasn’t opened yet. It’s still under construction in my home state, Rhode Island. This will be a really cool experience for me. I’ve always wanted to be involved in the restaurant business. It’s even better that I get to do this with my family and where I grew up!  We don’t have all the details settled, but it will be American food with a sports bar feel.

BM: Being a fashion and beauty icon, what are some of your top beauty secrets?

OC: My biggest beauty secret is to drink plenty of water and sleep an adequate amount of time! Pretty simple, really 🙂 For topical tricks, I make sure I moisturize often. Sometimes I use coconut oil, lavender oil and even Vaseline. You can always find products around the house to keep your skin hydrated. For fashion, my biggest piece of advice would be to have fun with your own personal style and really think of clothing as a way to express yourself. Every day and every outfit can be a complete expression of how you feel – I think that’s awesome!

BM: Who are your ultimate female fashion inspirations?

OC: Some of my fashion inspirations are Audrey Hepburn, Victoria Beckham, Olivia Palermo, and Amal Clooney. They always look so classy but still very contemporary and modern.

BM: Congratulations on becoming a contributing editor for Byrdie.com! What exactly does this role entail?

OC: Byrdie.com is a beauty site and I am a contributing editor. Every month I get to share my top beauty, wellness, and health secrets. I LOVE the site. It’s really cool to be creative and come up with new topics to explore. I could talk about beauty and wellness all day and night. I am constantly researching and reading about everything from products to vitamins. I really love trying the latest products and sharing ideas.

BM: You’ve had an incredible few years in this crazy industry. What would you say the biggest lesson you’ve learnt is?

OC: I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned in this industry is to have fun and remember who you truly are as a person. Nothing is worth it if it isn’t enjoyable and nothing is more important than the people who know you and love you.

photographer SOLMAZ SABERI