Lia DiNuzio, Miss Buffalo International 2014
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Which MNY locals have competed in?
I have actually only competed in two pageants prior to winning the Miss Buffalo International title. The first was Miss Flower City, located in Rochester, and the second was Miss Syracuse. Both experiences left me with an outstanding impression of the Pageant world, and so I decided to continue.
I started competing in pageants because I love to challenge myself, both personally and professionally. I began these life-altering challenges at the shy age of 15 when I packed my school bags and headed to France for a semester abroad. During my second year in college I participated in an internship in Washington DC. I worked in the World Wildlife Fund Headquarters, which provided me with an irreplaceable knowledge on how major non-profit organizations work with large corporations to maintain their donor base. Following the internship I purchased my first house at the age of 20; certainly my biggest challenge thus far. I came across the Miss America Organization online and quickly brushed it off knowing that I wouldn’t participate. I was quiet surprised by my rash reaction so I gave it more thought. It was totally out of my comfort zone to be judged against other beautiful girls in front of an audience. And so, I registered as a contestant!
Why did you chose to compete in Miss International?
The Miss International Organization is personally a better fit for me. My weakest category in the Miss America Pageant was the talent. Quite frankly, I don’t have a talent I can perform on stage. Sure, I’m great at skiing, baking, and giving advice…but none of those would work. The Miss International competition has a very heavy emphasis on the interview portion, as well as philanthropic contributions. These are things I know I can excel in.
Why is your platform unique?
My platform is not unique-and that is the most important part about it! The Hospice Organization is such a popular organization, especially in Western New York. Unfortunately many people experience life-threatening illnesses. If Hospice hasn’t touched the life of a relative, I’m sure a friend of a friend has experienced their care.
What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign?
Well I’ve set a personal goal to raise $10,000.00 for my local Hospice Organization by the end of my reign. With that said, I’d definitely like to bring my Buffalo community together in order to accomplish my goal!
Which is your favorite phase of competition?
I love each phase of the competition for different reasons, but I think I would have to choose the Evening Gown. The evening gown portion is about confidently wearing the “It” dress that feels as if it were designed specifically for you! Feeling beautiful, graceful, and confident is like being your own princess!
If you could add, remove, or change (either approach or scoring) of one phase of competition, how would you?
I would add a required resume stating each volunteer opportunity or appearance you’ve completed throughout your local title. I’ve averaged between 10 and 20 hours of community service per week since I began my local reign as Miss Buffalo International, and even though it helps to have experience during the interview portion of the competition, it’s true that once the competition begins the judges only see what’s delivered throughout that weekend. They can’t see all of my accomplishments from my local title, and there are very few opportunities to list each one. So unfortunately no matter how active one may be throughout the local title, the competition is really only about what’s presented on stage and the general questions that are asked during the interview portion.
Well I’ve only competed in a couple of pageants, but I treat myself the week before. Knowing that months of hard work may or may not pay off in the end is a very stressful realization as the pageant date arrives. I’ll buy some chocolate bars, maybe a new lip-gloss, and grant myself the relaxation time I deserve- as every competitor should!
What advice do you have for a girl who thinks she can’t compete in pageants?
I believe that, fortunately, there is a pageant for everyone! So it’s not necessarily that they cannot compete in a pageant- it’s more or less finding the right fit! There are different pageant systems to suit the needs of every girl. Some have a heavier emphasis on philanthropic contribution; others focus more on beauty.
What do you plan to do with your pageant experiences after you finish competing?
I’ve used my title as Miss Buffalo International as a means to network in my community and build my personal name. I plan on continuing my efforts with Hospice Buffalo as Lia DiNunzio once I’m finished with my year of service. Each email that I’ve sent has been signed as Lia DiNunzio so my community will know who I am once “Miss Buffalo” is gone. Thankfully I’ve been able to build my confidence and self-awareness while holding my local title, and I know I am able to succeed at whatever I put my heart to!
I can’t say I’m any better than the next girl who was asked this question, but I can promise the dedication I have to my thriving city is unmatched. I know I can bring the Buffalove to New York State as a whole. I also think that I’m capable of representing the state on a professional and business level. Holding a state title is not about being a pretty face. It’s about self-promotion, staying true to your heart, and advocating for causes that are important to our state citizens. Holding any “Miss International” title is about the work you do on your own accord. It’s important to go above and beyond what the director’s schedule on your calendar. Doing the bare minimum for anything in life will not get you ahead of those standing next to you. It’s about proving New York State deserves to travel the world representing an accomplished, established and confident woman.