Reflections of

Miss USA 1999

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Kimberly Pressler photo

C.D. As your year as Miss USA nears its completion, can you share a few of your accomplishments with us?  
Well, as Miss USA I do have the distinct pleasure of being the official spokesperson for breast and ovarian cancer. As you know, October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I also give seminars, speak to different colleges, and do a lot of fundraisers, because, as you know, we do not know what prevents it or what causes it, and we don?t have a cure. One of the great things I did as their spokesperson was host the Carolyn Baldwin Breast Cancer Gala. She?s a breast cancer survivor and the mother of the Baldwin brothers (famous actors Alec, Daniel, Stephen, & William). In fact, I?ve done quite a few things with the Baldwin Family, because the boys are using their celebrity status to call attention to this illness (breast cancer).

C.D. With all of the major media outlets in New York City, how has the move from Los Angeles increased your visibility as Miss USA?  
There are so many different outlets in the city that are just a block away which enables me to meet producers and directors and business people who can help when needed. As you know, here in New York City, there?s no other place in the world to be when you want to be recognized.

C.D. Now that you?re based in New York, is there a special sense of accomplishment in being the fourth Miss New York to capture the title of Miss USA?  
It?s kind of ironic that the year a Miss New York wins they transfer everybody to New York! I have to say I?m honored to be living here (in New York City). When I got here, I received a huge welcome, so I was really excited that we moved here.

C.D. Has there been a special person or a memorable event within the past year that has had a major impact on your life?
I would have to say there?ve been a lot of things that have contributed to how special this year has been for me. I?ve had the chance to work with the Special Olympics. I went to their summer games, which was huge. The turnout from the public to come and see all of these athletes from around the world compete was wonderful.

C.D. What are your goals for the future, and how will your year as Miss USA help you achieve these goals.  
?fter I give up my title in February, I?m going back to college to finish my degree in international business. As Miss USA I?ve learned a few things. One is the passion that I have to travel the world. Especially to Japan, because I?m part Japanese. I?ve also caught the acting bug and am actually going to school here in the city.

C.D. So the doors have opened up for you through your title?
Yes, I have met quite a few people that hopefully, at the end of my year, are going to help me get into acting. But like I said, I am going to finish my college degree.

C.D. What do you think you?ll miss the most after your year?  
I will miss meeting people and living in this wonderful city free of charge (laughs) ? those are two big ones.

C.D. What do you feel was the greatest challenge you faced as being Miss USA?
I would have to say the greatest challenge is always, under all circumstances, being ?on.? As Miss USA you have to give 300%. I mean there?s not a lot of down time to just be Kimberly Pressler. You?re always in the spotlight. Then again, speaking on behalf of breast and ovarian cancer and meeting survivors has also been challenging, because cancer has hit my family in many different ways. I have a great aunt who has breast cancer as we speak. I have another great aunt who?s a survivor of ovarian cancer. My mother and grandmother also had cancer. So every time I speak on behalf of it, I get really nervous, because I know that at some point in my life I, myself, am at high risk.

C.D. Obviously, this is a cause that is near to your heart.  
It really is. I also had a friend who lived in a neighboring town who died at the age of 17 from breast cancer. So when I speak to people, I tell them it doesn?t know an age, and it doesn?t know a race. Males can also get breast cancer. And if you get breast cancer, you?re more likely to get ovarian cancer, and vice versa. In fact, approximately 175,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and 5,000 men are diagnosed. Those are strong statistics.

C.D. As your year comes to a close, what?s the first thing you?d like to do?  
Pick up my car from my father in New Mexico! I won a Camero convertible with a 350 Corvette engine. It?s a sports package, so I?m very excited. My father has had the pleasure of driving it around these past few months. Then I?m going to go out to Los Angeles and start a new life for myself. I?m also looking forward to throwing myself into acting as much as possible. I?ve actually had a small part in a film this year, and I did a few commercials. One was a public-service announcement with Stephen Baldwin and another was a commercial for the Air Force (Kimberly?s father serves in the Air Force). So, I?m looking forward to doing that on a regular basis.

C.D. What film was it?  
The Three Little Wolf. Not wolves, it?s wolf. It?s a comedy about three Jewish brothers and the relationship they have with their mother, and their last name is Wolf. I had a small role, but I was so excited! So many spontaneous things happen here in the city (New York), and that?s something I?ll always remember.

C.D. Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to impart to those striving to follow in your footsteps as your successor?  
The best advice I can give is to know yourself. I honestly don?t think I would have made it through this year if I didn?t know as much about myself as I do.When you go to the Miss USA pageant, 95% of it is a head game you play with yourself. It?s only you who has to get up there in front of over 100 million people. You have to be secure in who you are and what you believe in. And when you get there, have a good time. So know yourself, believe in yourself, and don?t sweat the small stuff.

C.D. Any parting thoughts?  
There are so many people I wish I could personally thank throughout this year. From Randy Sanders (NY State Director), who really helped me out, to Scott Gray (owner of a retail store), to the people at the Miss Universe Organization, to all of the wonderful people that I?ve had the privilege of meeting this year, and to my family. And thank you for putting me on the cover of your awesome magazine!

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