She’s beauty and she’s grace, she’s…well, Miss. Long Island Teen 2014, but we’ll just pretend that rhymes.
Yes, this gorgeous royalty, Sabrina Franza, is reigning over Oceanside, New York as this year’s teen queen, but soon she shall be moving her throne to a much larger kingdom, New York City. What does this land have in store for her? Well, Ms. Franza has been offered a spot at New York University’s Steinhardt School for Media, Culture, and Communications. Beauty and brains, Ms. Franza seems to dawn it all, while working as a devoted humanitarian in her free time. To be let into this wonderful queen’s life was a privilege, an interesting one at that.
One would think with all the time she spends on the road to the crown, that she would have no time to pursue any other passions. Wrongo. It seems as though, Ms. Franza, has quite the knack for modeling. But with a face like that, can you really be that surprised? So, how did it all come about? “I always was a theatre kid. Ever since I was seven years old, I’ve been taking private acting and singing lessons, while performing. As I got older, I realized that the best way to get myself out there was to make myself as marketable as possible! So, I hit the gym, took some pictures to finish my portfolio, and started submitting myself to whatever job/agency I would qualify. In a way, this outlook really helped me explore my talent and be open to new experiences.”
And soon enough, I’m sure, agencies were knocking down her door. What was her first coveted gig? “At first, I would try to shoot with photographers who were also just starting out. It was great experience for me, but also allowed us both to grow and learn more about our respective fields. I was able to get out of my comfort zone, because I could experiment different techniques without any actual consequences! I even tried modeling on a tractor once.. Needless to say it wasn’t my best idea, especially since I was standing super high, facing beach winds!”
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a tractor shoot as much as the next guy, but maybe Ms. Franza should work her way up, maybe starting out on a nice bicycle of sorts? But, this is a perfection representation of the personality that she possesses. Fun loving, outgoing, and a pretty face. That could take her anywhere. “There’s this goofy side of me that would love to dress up like a kid again. This is why when I was asked to model for Party City, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be paid for being a banana? Along those lines, I was once asked to do a commercial and print campaign for Splish Splash, a water park on Long Island. By the end of the shoot, I knew every single employees name and probably rode the same ride a million times, but the experience was super fun. The commercial is actually still on air, I’m the girl with the blue bathing suit in the front! The very next day, we filmed a promotion for Johnny Rockets. I had a fake boyfriend for the shoot with a little ‘one milkshake, two straws’ action. It was cool having to meet the challenge of meeting someone that day and then having to act like you’ve known them for months. Until then, I couldn’t truthfully say I’ve ever had a complete stranger feed me french fries on camera. Recently, I was asked to model Triangle Swimwear for an upcoming online magazine. I was proud to have been picked because it proved to me that all the hours at the gym were paying off; It takes a lot of courage to take pictures in a swimsuit! It just shows you can conquer anything you set your mind too.”
Well, Ms. Franza should know a lot about courage and conquering, seeing as she is no stranger to being photographed in a swimsuit. Miss. Long Island Teen made sure of that. So, what made her want to go under that type of scrutiny? “My journey to the Miss Long Island crown started with a need to make a difference in my community. Combine that desire with a goal to become the best version of myself physically and mentally, and you end up in a pageant! I saw the work that previous winners had done, and submitted my picture on a whim. With a lot of hard work, I was able to win the Miss Long Island Teen crown on my first try. I competed in the three phases recognized by MUO (the Miss Universe Org): interview, swimwear, and evening gown. Each phase took hours of time in preparation, but I learned that with hard work, anything is possible!”
Ms. Franza is definitely the ideal image of the idea of hard work, and yet, some view these pageants as nothing more as a beauty contest among women, valuing what their outer image over what they truly have to offer. How does she feel about this predetermined judgement? “I am a firm believer that it takes a real woman with real courage to stand up in front of a crowd to be judged. Not many people can say they feel comfortable enough in their own skin to stand in a swimsuit, welcoming a score. A person who demeans pageantry also has no clue what happens after the girl gets the shiny tiara. She may look all glamourous when she wins, but she will spend an entire year getting her hands dirty helping others. Now when athletes compete, do they spend a year helping others after they win the superbowl? Didn’t think so.”
It is true that after the pageant ends, the tiara comes off, and the makeup washed away, the winners enter a world devoted to helping others. One organization that Ms. Franza has offered her time to is TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms), an organization that covers many topics, one being eating disorders. In the world of fashion, we see time and time again, many falling victim to the stress body images bring on. What does this organization, as well as herself, have to say on this issue? “TWLOHA is a non-profit movement that I am proud to be an advocate for. They help others embrace the beauty in themselves, learn that “hope is real” and realize that “every story is important.” I have witnessed within my own friends the truth in the statistic that one in five teens suffer from depression. As Miss Long Island Teen, it was extremely important to me to continue my involvement with TWLOHA’s Street Team, helping spread awareness through social media. My goal is to help people understand that each person can strive to be the best version of themselves in a healthy way. Pageantry has taught me the importance of physical fitness and self confidence, and I try my best to filter those lessons to anyone in need of help or just someone to talk too. The ‘model type body’ is a much different than the stereotype. Personally, I’m 5’3” and work hard to keep my body physically fit. Starving yourself is never the answer. In actuality, people who workout wanting to lose weight actually have to eat more (which rocks). There are so many better alternatives to become your best ‘you,’ physically and mentally, that starving yourself seems extremely unappealing. You matter! Don’t let anyone, any picture, or any stereotype tell you otherwise.”
Well, through it all, Ms. Franza has remained strong and a beacon of hope and inspiration to girls everywhere. And with the body image in order, fashion is the next thing many girls tend to worry about. So, what does fashion mean to her? “I’ve always looked up to Audrey Hepburn as a style icon. I love how she embraces the the simplicity of small details and makes every outfit glamourous. However, my style is tweaked to meet my tastes. I mean, come on; a pageant girl has got to have her bling and stilettos! Whatever your interests are, embrace them. Dress the the way you feel most confident and comfortable and everything else will follow. A girl’s best accessory is her smile.”
Truly, an inspiration and idol to many girls, Sabrina Franza is one of a kind. If not in modeling, I am sure that we will see more of her, in some form of fashion. She is kind hearted, a good soul, and truly someone that can capture the heart of millions.