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Aug 16, 2019 2:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Gianni Willis Is Representing The Shinnecock Indian Nation And Southampton Community In The Miss New York USA Pageant

Gianni Willis enjoying the cool summer day in her town, Mastic. JENNIFER CORR
Aug 19, 2019 11:10 AM

Gianni Willis is competing as a finalist in the 2020 Miss New York USA pageant, and not just for herself — she wants to represent the Shinnecock Indian Nation and the Southampton community as a whole. “That’s what I’m all about, especially when it comes to my reservation,” Ms. Willis said. “You have to advocate for something more than yourself. I would use this opportunity as a platform to influence people like me, little young girls, and young boys, too, that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”

She wants to “shed light on a great town, a great community, an accepting community.”

Ms. Willis, 21, grew up on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation and graduated from Southampton High School in 2016. Now, she lives in Mastic and is doing her prerequisites at Suffolk County Community College. She plans on going to nursing school to become a midwife.

She said that she has arranged her schedule so that she can balance both the pageant and her studies.

In January, she’ll be heading to Westchester, meeting women from all around the state. The pageant is being held at SUNY Purchase. Ms. Willis said that there will be workshops to teach contestants pageantry skills, such as walking on stage. She also said that there is a get-together to meet roommates and other contestants.

“It’s very positive, it’s going to be a very positive weekend,” Ms. Willis said.

There are three portions within in the pageant, according to the Miss New York USA website, including an interview and a swimsuit and evening gown portion.

During the interview, contestants will meet with judges in a private setting. The judges will consider presence and personality as they ask questions that seek the contestant’s personal opinions, ability to communicate and sense of self. Questions can be asked on any topic.

The swimsuit and evening gown portion measure overall self-confidence, appearance, stage presence and overall beauty. Specifically for the evening gown portion, judges measure the beauty that the contestant brings to the gown, which is chosen by the contestant.

“It’s very nerve-wracking, the process of getting up to that,” Ms. Willis said. “But it’s also exciting, because I know the end result will be very positive and very fun.”

This is not Ms. Willis’s first pageant. In 2011, she won the Miss Shinnecock Teen Junior crown. She said that growing up on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation made her the kind, family person she is today.

“It taught me a lot, it taught me the importance of family, because without them you would really be nothing,” Ms. Willis said. “The help that they bring, the support that they bring, the lessons that they bring, it’s very helpful. Growing up on the reservation, I think, molded me to be the respectful, kind, people person that I am today.”

The winner of Miss New York USA gets to compete in the Miss USA pageant. The winner of Miss USA would go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

Ms. Willis has set up a GofundMe page titled, “GIANNI T. WILLIS MISS NEW YORK USA 2020,” for those wishing to sponsor her.

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Gianni Willis is beautiful : )
By Aeshtron (387), Southampton on Aug 24, 19 11:12 AM
Bring it home Gianni!
By V.Tomanoku (782), southampton on Aug 24, 19 8:47 PM
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