Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo: Journey from Pageantry to Hollywood

10 Apr 2020 | Priya Bhardwaj

Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe 2012 on 19th December 2012 at the AXIS, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. An American fashion influencer, reality television, and social media personality, Culpo was the first American to win the title since 1997 and the first Rhode Islander to win the title. She has transformed into a successful supermodel through the last seven years and her story is nothing less than fierce and inspiring.

Olivia was born in Cranston and her parents owned restaurants in New England due to which she grew up around food and parties with her big Italian family. She began studying the cello in the second grade and has played in the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, the Bay View Orchestra, and the Rhode Island All-State Orchestra. She attended Boston University and was studying communications, acting, and business.



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While at University, Culpo decided she wanted to pursue acting and modelling more so she started getting into beauty pageants. In one of her interviews, Olivia mentioned that she was inspired by other actresses who got their start in the pageant world, like Halle Berry.

After being crowned as Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo decided not to return to college and focused on the new opportunities that came along her way. Her parents were not on board with her participating in Miss Rhode Island USA 2012 competition which meant that she had to buy her own dress when she entered her first pageant. She took to the stage in a $20 rent-the-runway gown that had a hole in the back and was too short. Despite the dress, the judges were impressed, and she won. Despite her parents’ initial lack of support, they are now very supportive of her career and they have not made her guilty of not attending college.



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In 2017, Olivia along with her father opened a restaurant called ‘The Back 40’ in Rhode Island. She is extremely proud of this business venture and is enjoying having a business connection with her family. Olivia is a great cook and has stated, "I absolutely love cooking and I'm always working on great new recipes." She explained that she mainly cooks to stay healthy and "make delicious wholesome meals with healthy ingredients and ultimately with lower calories."

While on the beauty pageant circuit, Olivia Culpo travelled to many countries and this has given her a passion for traveling to new places and experiencing different cultures. She now travels for many aspects of her career. During her reign, Olivia served as a spokesperson for breast and ovarian cancer and worked closely with organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Gilda’s Club. She also worked with the USO as part of the Miss Universe Organization’s dedication to supporting our troops.



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Culpo is a supporter of the LGBTQ community and embraced the Miss Universe Organization's decision to admit transgender contestants. During the Miss Universe 2012 competition, Olivia was asked, "Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?" She answered, "I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it's a free country,"

An admirer of Audrey Hepburn, Olivia keeps a journal of the actress’s quotes and even resembles classical beauty. Shortly after being crowned, Olivia serenaded her press conference attendees while singing one of her favorite Audrey Hepburn songs Funny Face from the 1957 film.



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In 2016, Olivia Culpo was announced as an ambassador for Pencils of Promise. This charity was founded in 2008, and its aims are to provide better access to education in the developing world. In 2012, the charity did great things in Ghana, and they now have more than 350 schools in Ghana, Laos, and Nicaragua. This has allowed them to educate more than 33,000 people. Culpo wanted to get involved as soon as she heard about the project. She has already supported other similar projects in the past, including the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation and the Many Hopes Foundation.

Culpo became a social media personality after gaining a significant following on her social media profiles and has partnered and collaborated with various beauty and fashion brands as an influencer. Culpo has also appeared in the 2018 and 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and did advertising for L'Oréal, Kipling, and Uberliss. She also appeared in the reality television show Model Squad (2018). In addition, Culpo had roles in the films I Feel Pretty and Reprisal in 2018.



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She appeared on a reality show ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ where she spoke to "pageant moms" which caught the nation's attention.  "If you think that your child is going to be really sensitive to the fact that they might not win which they probably won't, you shouldn't do it because it's not healthy if they get the feeling that they're not good enough or they're not worthy," she said.

Olivia describes that keeping fit and looking good is important to her. Whenever possible, she tries to exercise in her free time. She often attends keep fit classes, including Barry’s Bootcamp, Pilates, yoga, SoulCycle, and a class called Orange Theory. Culpo has said that exercising makes her feel good. Between 2013 and 2015, Olivia Culpo dated singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Jonas. Prior to their split in June 2015, Jonas penned a song dedicated to Culpo; ‘Jealous’ and Culpo starred in the music video for the single alongside Nick Jonas. She is seen riding in his car and laughing. The queen’s favourite style is dressed-up workout wear. Culpo told that she prefers to avoid fashion roles as she doesn’t think there are any fashion ‘don’ts’.



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Olivia Culpo is one of the successful Miss Universe winners. She is kind, generous and opinionated who has made a name for herself in not only the world of beauty pageants but also in the fashion and modelling world. She is fashionable, kind, self-assured and very much comfortable in her skin. The diva never shies to show off her toned body in public and her exquisite dressing style is one of the reasons why she is adored across the globe.  Olivia Culpo is a perfect example for someone who needs the inspiration to believe in themselves and write their own successful and happy future.