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Bravotv.com: What did you think of Vanassa and Susanna’s airport clash and their sit down after?
Shelley Carbone: Obviously, Susanna made a bad choice. She decided to not only purchase the same outfit that she knew Vanassa had purchased, but then proceeded to make the tacky and disgraceful choice to wear it on the same day. . .at the same time to the same event she knew Vanassa would be wearing it to. If that wasn't bad enough, prior to said event, she believes it would be -- I'm not sure, maybe cute? Funny? Entertaining? -- to call Vanassa to discuss her "fashion faux pas." If Susanna was interested at all in being friends with Vanassa, she should have made better choices. Such as the one to leave the jumper at home. What concerns me is the motive. What could Susanna have possibly hoped to gain by acting this way? Attention. Well, congratulations. Enjoy your 30 seconds.
At some point, the situation needed to be addressed. Vanassa had to travel with Susanna from Connecticut to Arizona. V even cared for Susanna on the flight, when Susanna felt ill. But it was at the baggage claim that things became heated. I don't think it would have gotten out of hand if Susanna would have just apologized and let Vanassa say what she needed to. Susanna created this situation and couldn't handle the heat. She made another bad choice by immediately becoming defensive as though she did nothing wrong and attacking Vanassa. Ha. . .we all know how that worked out.
Susanna's apology was phony and inauthentic. And not because I'm biased, but the lipstick scene is legendary. One of my favorites for sure.
Bravotv.com: Tell us about the bet – was this only fun and games? Why didn't you think Lori-Ann and Leha would go far in the competition?
SC: The bet. Oh my gosh. . .Does anyone really believe it was a real, whole hearted attempt to not support our ladies and win hefty prizes at their expense? Of course it was just fun and games. We were absolutely 100 percent there to support Leha and Lori-Ann in any way possible. We wanted them to enjoy this incredible experience and make life long friends and memories. That is what participating in this event really is all about. At the end of the day, there can be only one winner. Fifty amazing ladies go home losers. "You are all winners" sounds great, and I'm sure on some level it's true. But, please, let's be honest. There is only one woman crowned Mrs. America at this event. You better make the best of this experience, because, for some, that's all you leave with.
Having been to the same pageant a few years prior, I know the caliber of the women competing. The majority are amazing! They are incredibly beautiful, intelligent, articulate, accomplished women from all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, poets/authors, mothers, Realtors, TV personalities. . .you name it. They are deeply involved with their communities and put themselves out there to bring awareness to their causes that effect them and their families. I feel Mrs. America should embody grace, compassion, and class mixed with a little bit of grit.
I did not think Lori-Ann would place at Nationals. She does not carry herself like a lady. You don't have to be "uptight" or "conservative," but if you are concerned about being able to take a "sh--" between rehearsals or having "swamp ass" in the desert. . .maybe pageantry is not for you. It's too bad, because although Lori-Ann likes to think she competed on a whim, I know she had to compete twice to win Mrs. Connecticut America. She should have had some idea what she was getting into. She should have tried to enjoy her experience and the women she had the privilege to meet there.
Also, based on my experience with this pageant system, I believed that Leha would make it into the Top 10. She is articulate and intelligent. She looked beautiful on stage. So good in fact, everyone wanted to change their bets once we saw her onstage! She was poised and graceful. And those abs. . .seriously?! I believed at that moment that she could have made the Top Three as well. However, I still would not have her as the winner. The competition was fierce. Please remember. . .these are my own personal opinions and I, just like every one of you, am entitled to them. Heck, I didn't think I was going to win either!!
Bravotv.com: What do you think of Lori-Ann saying the bet was "bullsh--" and Leha saying that is shows you weren't supporting her?
SC: Lori-Ann saying the bet was "bullsh--" is another fine example of her lack of class. I am sure she feels disappointed in how the pageant unfolded, and it may be a little displaced. Regardless if we had a bet or not, the outcome would not have changed. Our intention was never to hurt their feelings or not wish them success. If you ask me who is going to win, should I say you just because you are my friend, or do you want the truth? Some people don't really appreciate the truth, their egos can't handle it. She needs to take responsibility for the choices she made. During competition, many people give you advice and suggestions, but ultimately, it's up to you what you do with them.
Bravotv.com: Tell us about your time competing (and winning) the Mrs. America pageant.
SC: My experience at Mrs. America was incredible. I went to Arizona with the belief that I was just going to be me, and if that was good enough to win. . .great. If not, oh well. The first day I arrived, I called my husband crying, telling him that I didn't belong here with these amazing women. He, being my best friend and rock, told me to come home. Ha!! I almost did. I actually thought, for a hot second, about getting back on the plane and heading home to my family, my comfort zone, my safe place. Where I don't need to prove myself to anyone or allow people I don't know to judge me. But, I took a deep breath and remembered the reasons I was there. They were personal and so was this journey and experience. In turn, I met the most incredible women. There was no "cattiness" in the class I had the honor of being with. They were everything pageant women should be and then some. I still feel so proud to know them, even now four years later. Mrs. Colorado and I became close and we are still good friends! Don't get me wrong, there were a couple of real beauties (if you know what I mean), but they wouldn't damper my experience. Everyone of those women wanted to win, myself included. You'd be a liar to say you didn't! But I really tried to enjoy this experience as I knew it was once in a lifetime.
I had no idea how to "compete." I had no game! I just did the best I could! My state costume was "Katherine Hepburn." She lived in CT and was one of America's legendary icons. She was known for wearing pants/suits in a time when it was not socially accepted for women to do so. I was covered from head to toe. A 1940s hat, with a brown, long sleeved, wide legged suit, embellished with a few crystals in the form of "KH." A lot of women think the costume needs to be body barring and sexy. However, the costume portion of the pageant is not judged towards the crown. And I can tell you, I was confident and comfortable up there in my suit. I assume it showed.
The hardest part of any competition for me is the swim suit competition. I dread it! I had a full on panic attack and didn't speak for two days when I found out that I would have to parade on stage in my bathing suit with no wrap! No wrap?!? Yikes. I have had four children. . .need I say more? No one wants to see my c-section scar. Not even me! Ha! I grew up watching my parents struggle with their weight. I was a chubby kid and my brothers called me fat. That has stayed with me all my life. That's why I focus on health instead of weight with my children. Women come in all sizes and shapes. Being healthy is the most important. Being "thin" or "skinny". . .not so much. Going out on stage in a bathing suit, for me, is like ripping off a Band-Aid. Take a deep breath and get it over quickly!
When they called my name in the Top 10, I was elated! Thank goodness I placed! I felt a twinge of sadness for my new friends that didn't place. I knew they may be feeling disappointed and I wished I could comfort them. But there was not time! It was time to bring it. It all seemed to happen so quickly. It was as though I was walking through a dream. A dream I already knew the outcome to. Although, after making Top 6, I completely botched my first onstage question. Thank God I'm soft spoken, they probably just didn't hear my answer! Ha! When I got to the Top Three, all I could think of was to not botch the next question! What could they possibly be asking us?!? And when I had the opportunity to speak. . .I just spoke from the heart. I told them how blessed I feel everyday (that's the short version!). I remember holding Raquel's hands and waiting to hear the name of the first runner up called. When I realized I had won. . .the moment was surreal. "Really!?!" I was overwhelmed by the thought that they chose me. Me. Wow. Thank you.
Man, I did not see that one coming! When the other ladies surrounded me to congratulate me, I felt we truly were all victorious. All of us. We had laughed, we had cried, we had danced and bounced our little hearts out. We all gave it our best and it was amazing. That is what I wanted for Leha and Loriann, that feeling of giving it your all and knowing at the end of it, it was worth it.
Bravotv.com: With such experience, how to you think Lori-Ann and Leha did over all? Where do you think they could improve?
SC: It is difficult for me to offer advice to Leha, because I think she did a beautiful job on stage. I am not sure how her interview went, which is 50 percent of your total score at Mrs. America. I think she should be proud of herself for what she accomplished in Arizona.
As far as Lori-Ann is concerned. . .she makes it painfully clear that she is not interested in, and quite frankly miserable, competing in Mrs. Pageants. So I am confused as to why she would now, as I have heard, be attempting to compete in another one. She should stick to fitness competitions if that is where she is most comfortable, as you don't need to speak or talk your way into the judges hearts. Mrs. Pageants don't give you credit for the size of your biceps or how much you can bench press. And just so we're clear, Mrs. Pageants are definitely not "like football games," nor should they be.
Bravotv.com: What were you thinking when Leha’s husband caught you celebrating your win? Why did you stay when the others left?
SC: My first reaction to Nick's response to my little celebratory dance move, not my finest moment by the way, was "Oh no, what have I done?" Throughout the entirety of the Mrs. America Pageant I feel I behaved as one would expect a Mrs. A to, with class and dignity. Being aware and sensitive to the families of the delegates which surround us and the directors immediately sitting in front of us. Susanna and Lynne were talking at inappropriate times during the show and being a bit too loud for my comfort level. "Shhhh" was my word of the night! I was mortified as I felt at that moment they were a bad reflection of me. Then for one minute -- one minute -- I let myself forget about maintaining my integrity and truly got excited when I won the bet. And whenever I heard Nick's voice. . .I felt awful. I truly was not happy that Leha didn't place higher than Top 10. For that split moment it was just a fact, unassociated with anyone or their feelings. By the way, we were all cheering on Leha, as well as for Lori-Ann. Nick somehow seemed to miss that though.
I do understand how Nick could have misunderstood our intentions. However, it does not warrant or excuse his erratic behavior. For him to behave that way in front of his small, impressionable children, his family and the families and friends of the other delegates is unacceptable. Nick seems to think it is all about him and Leha. Get a grip.
After Lynne tells us that "Nick carries a gun and will shoot us all," I have to admit, I got a little nervous. However, I refused to allow myself to be scared by him. After the other ladies got up out of their seats and left the ballroom, I looked over at Nick yelling his fool head off to anyone who would listen and thought, "If he wants to discuss this with me, he can come over here to do it. I'm not moving." I guess it was a little prideful. But thank God, it was not a mistake.
I truly didn't want anything to do with the "prizes" after that. No thank you. However, I decided to try to turn a negative into a positive by accepting them and donating them to charity. The sunglasses Lynne gave me were auctioned off at an event to raise money for "Cherish the Children," a charity helping children and their families dealing with life altering health issues. The overnight stay at Foxwood's Resort and Casino was donated to the Corpus Christi School Auction. Raising money to fund events and charitable acts the school participates in throughout the year.
Bravotv.com: Do you ever wear the Glitzy Girl jewelry you won from Susanna?
SC: As far as Susanna's "prize" of $500 worth of Glitzy Girl jewelry. . .well, let's just say I'm not holding my breath. She did not come through with her part of the bet and never will. For her to say she did is a blatant lie. Is that an "Italian" thing, too? Because, my beautiful, amazing 100 percent Italian husband and his incredible family don't say they will do something, not do it, and then lie to say they did. Way to raise the bar, Susanna.
Bravotv.com: How did you think the dinner at your restaurant went? Did you feel that the issues were resolved?
SC: I would not consider the dinner at Carbone's Kitchen a success by any stretch. We came together to discuss what transpired at Mrs. America. To give our account of the event. To hopefully get Lori-Ann and Leha to understand that we were in fact supporting them and the bet was ridiculous and held no merit towards how we felt about them personally. Leha would not see any other side than her husband's. Which to some degree, I understand. However, the only thing this dinner did clear up to me is that Nick's erratic behavior in Arizona was not an isolated incident and he obviously has anger issues. Oh yes, and that Lynne is lying to us about receiving a personal death threat from Nick. I mean, it wouldn't be surprising, but it's not true.