So I have a connection to Sunday night's Miss USA winner, Erin Brady of Connecticut.
I judged the Connecticut Miss USA qualifier in 2011. That was Erin's first try at the Miss USA crown. She placed first runner-up in the competition, and earned a second place vote from me.
Brady was just as beautiful then, but what held her back in my eyes was her inexperience. She admitted she dealt with social anxiety and even on stage told the audience how ridiculously nervous she was. I thought that if she was having a hard time with a local pageant in Hartford, Vegas might be too much at this stage.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I still feel we made the right decision. She would have competed against Olivia Culpo last year, who of course went on to win Miss Universe. I'd like to think that the extra year of going through the pageant system helped Brady move on to the USA crown but, then again, that would be pure speculation on my part.
'RHONJ' STAR TALKS CANNOLIS, CONVICTIONS
It isn't all high life and cat fights this season on Bravo's “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” The fifth season of the reality show has already featured a scene with cast member Kathy Wakile encouraging her sister Rosie Pierri to get out and meet more people. Pierri is gay and Wakile may help to break down some of the stereotypes associated with Italian-Americans and the gay community.
“I think people need to open their eyes and see what's really inside instead of what's the shell,” she explained to me over the weekend following an appearance at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. “We're good people; it's just we take everything to the extreme.”
Wakile was careful not to suggest the same stereotypes apply to all Italian-Americans, or even all those that live in New Jersey. But, she also pointed out that not all of the stereotypes are necessarily negative.
“I think we're all passionate,” she said. “We love hard, we play hard, and we get angry hard.”
Of course, Italian-Americans love to “mangia” too. Wakile is now in the dessert business with frozen cannoli kits that she sells through her website. The “Real Housewife” broke down the key ingredients for the treat.
“First of all, you gotta make it with a lot of love,” she explained. “Then you have your Ricotta, and confectionary sugar, and then you have your shell. And that's pretty much it.”
Wakile told me that her favorite place to grab a cannoli in Manhattan is Ferrara's.
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