Chances are, while a chunk of her classmates are chugging beer at keg parties at Kappa Kappa Chi Chi Phi Sig, Olivia Culpo will not be there. No disrespect intended here, but she's got better things to do -- like studying philosophy, playing the cello, modeling at a shoot, or working with her Miss USA pageant coach.
The Boston University sophomore is planning to go places, thank you, and there's no time to waste. There's work to be done! After all, practice makes perfect — a lesson she first started learning as a fifth grader in Cranston, Rhode Island. Her mother, a violist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and her father, a restaurant owner (of Parish Cafe and the Hill Tavern, among others), insisted that all five of their children learn to play an instrument. Olivia showed promise with the cello, and so she was sent off to band camp for eight consecutive summers. While her friends were canoeing and swimming their summers away, Olivia was restringing her cello and playing Beethoven. She was irked. In fact, there were times she downright hated it. But she couldn’t help but be impressed by the mind-blowing work ethic and talent of the kids surrounding her. They made high school popularity efforts like cheerleading and the prom look frivolous. Mastering the cello, it turns out, offered lessons beyond music.
When Olivia was 13, she took a seat in the second row during her all-girls Catholic school annual "pinning ceremony." In front of her sat a young lady whose elegance and confidence immediately entranced the young Olivia. She was beautiful, sure, but there something more — a confidence, a composure that captivated the room. Her name was Danielle Lacourse, and she was the runner-up in the Miss USA pageant. From that day on, Olivia aspired to conduct herself in the same way. Last year, as a freshman at Boston University, Olivia started putting the pieces together: she was accepted as a model at Boston's top modeling agency, Maggie, Inc. Five months later, she landed on the cover of STUFF Magazine. She started auditioning for films and positioned herself at any public appearance that would help perfect her stage presence. (Full disclosure: she emceed a Boldfacers event last February and impressed the heck out of us.) She started training for the Miss Rhode Island competition, hiring her childhood mentor — Danielle Lacourse — to coach her. Last fall, Olivia walked the runway wearing a crown and a sash. It was no fashion show. It was the Miss Rhode Island pageant, and Olivia won. Next up? Miss USA, where, with the help of her trusty cello, Danielle, and some cover-girl swagger, Olivia Culpo will enjoy her biggest close-up.