22 Things to Know About Olivia Pura, Miss Illinois USA 2020

  1. What did the journey to your crown look like? I decided to compete in Miss Illinois USA 2020 in May of 2019. It was something I had thought about since I held the Teen title… but I finally felt in my heart that the timing was right! That summer, I was working full-time as a research assistant and studying for the GRE. Any and all of my free time was used for pageant prep – which made for a pretty busy summer. Having such a good rhythm in my preparation made it feel so effortless and, before I knew it, pageant weekend came! I felt a genuinely calmness while competing and soaked in every moment. 
  2. What tips would you give to pageant competitors? My biggest advice is so start preparing early, slow and steady. There’s nothing worse than stressing before or during a pageant weekend – it takes away from the magic of the experience! If you’re competing on a budget, I highly recommend checking out YouTube for pageant prep help. There are plenty interview tips, walking videos and makeup tutorials available for free. Most importantly – be YOU and have FUN. What’s meant to be yours will be yours, whether it’s winning the title or not!
  3. Do you have a favorite wine, or drink? Cold brew is my favorite drink! I’m a coffee lover through and through. If I’m indulging in a glass of wine, it’s definitely red – the best I’ve ever had is from the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, CA.
  4. Dream pageant gown designer? Sherri Hill made my dream gown come to life for Miss USA! She is not only a talented designer but a kind, caring woman. My favorite international designer is Valdrin Sahiti! 
  5. What are your makeup go-to’s for a quick beat? If I’m short on time, I throw on Image Skincare’s tinted SPF, a little bit of concealer (Tarte Shape Tape is my favorite!), Glossier Boy Brow and Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam.
Prior to becoming Miss Illinois USA 2020, Olivia was Miss Teen Illinois 2016, where she placed in the Top 15 at Miss Teen USA!

5. What are your makeup go to’s for a quick beat?: If I’m short on time, I throw on Image Skincare’s tinted SPF, a little bit of concealer (Tarte Shape Tape is my favorite!), Glossier Boy Brow, and Glossier Cloud Paint in “Beam.”

6. What was your first pageant competition like? My first competition was Miss Illinois Teen USA 2016. I went in so clueless and imperfect, yet excited and grateful. The friendships I met that weekend, several of them being returning contestants, were all incredibly kind and offered a lot of advice. The whole weekend, I focused on having FUN! Going into finals night, I didn’t think even for a second that I would win. Imagine the shock I felt when I was called the winner! It was a giant blessing that truly changed my life’s course forever.

7. Current read? Right now, I’m reading The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.

8. Which portion of competition is your fave? Though it’s nerve-wracking at times, interview is my favorite portion of competition! It’s where the judges really get to see who you are and what type of titleholder you would be. Prepping for pageant interviews has allowed me to be a better, more confident interviewer and public speaker in general!

9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Without a doubt – the moon!

10. How do you balance your pageant, work, and personal life? Prioritization and organization are key! It’s important to be honest with yourself and know when to say no. This was really hard for me at first.  I also keep a bullet journal where I jot down my daily thoughts, keep track of short-term and long-term goals and managed my weekly to-do lists. Bullet journaling also allows me to let out my inner artist and have fun with planning!

Olivia is the oldest of three siblings in her family, and is first generation Polish American.

11. Give us a good motivational quote that inspires you.: “Just keep swimming!” – Dory, Finding Nemo

12. Would you consider yourself a hero? I view my accomplishments with nothing but humility and gratitude. The reality is, I wouldn’t be where I am without my heroes. However, there is no better compliment than to be told that I am a role model to someone.  I choose to live my life as though I am someone’s hero and strive to set the best example always!

13. Bedtime routine? TAKE. MY. MAKEUP. OFF. ALWAYS. I have acne-prone skin, so I start by making sure my face is clean and moisturized at night (witch hazel, CeraVe SA Lotion and tea tree oil are my favorite products). My favorite nights are spent sipping a mug of caffeine-free herbal tea and snuggling into my massive pile of throw pillows. Minimizing my nighttime phone use was a big 2020 goal for me – once I’m in bed, I put it on Do Not Disturb and leave it locked!

14. What artists are on your playlist? My most-played artists are definitely TroyBoi, Odesza, and deadmau5. If I’m not listening to EDM, I’m probably listening to Aminé, Hozier or Dan + Shay.

15. How did you decide on your evening gown? My Miss USA gown was actually the first and only gown I tried on at the Sherri Hill showroom in Austin! I immediately fell in love with it. The color, cut, neckline and beading were all BETTER than what I had envisioned for myself. When you know, you know!

Olivia is a senior at Northwestern University and is a double major in biochemistry and Slavic languages & literatures. (Photo cred: Miss USA)

16. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Cool Mom Friend. I’m just as likely to plan a fancy brunch in the city with friends as I am to throw on a pair of crocs and spend a night watching romcoms. No matter my mood, I’m always looking out for those around me!

17. Favorite junk food? My goodness, it’s impossible to pick just one! I have a CRAZY sweet tooth. If I HAVE to pick… I’d say Nutella. But oreos, donuts, peanut M&Ms, and Portillo’s chocolate cake are all honorable mentions! 

18. One global issue that tugs at your heart: While the feminist movement has taken unbelievable strides in the United States, there are still many countries around the world where women are considered inferior to men. I want to see a world where women are truly equals and share the same rights: access to education, voice in their governments and respect in leadership roles. 

 19. What is your favorite movie? I absolutely adore all of the Harry Potter movies; my favorite is the Chamber of Secrets.

20. Who would you consider to be your hero? My parents are always have been and always will be my heroes. Both of them left Poland, their home country, when they were younger than I currently am. Watching them pour themselves into our family in hopes of giving me and my siblings the life they always wanted fuels my daily drive! I am in awe of their work ethic, compassion and fearlessness. 

21. How do you unwind on a Sunday evening? I love to throw on a giant Tshirt, crack open a pint of Halo Top (chocolate chip cookie dough is my favorite) and watch YouTube. I’m actually not a big Netflix gal and prefer watching tutorials, vlogs and DIY videos!

22. Give us your best Pageant Patty answer: Describe your perfect date? My perfect date is September 2, 2019 – the day I won the title of Miss Illinois USA! Could I ask for anything better than that? 

Catch up with Olivia on this week’s episode of Pageants & Prosecco, the Podcast. She shares her story about her time competing for Miss Teen USA, how she and the other former teen titleholders mentally prepare to compete as Miss, her relationship with the Vanbros management and other state titleholders working with them, what her reality is like being a first-generations American and why she chose to pursue the STEM field at one of the country’s top schools.


Published by Bee Nikole

Just a pageant girl from Chicago currently suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome.

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