Jeannette Josue never meant to become a model or an actress, let alone the winner of a number of pageants, including her most recent title, Mrs. New Jersey. She said her goal when going to college was to become a newscaster.
Now she not only has won the state title in the Mrs. and Mr. Pageant series, she will be going to Orlando, Fla. in July to see if she can become Mrs. USA.
In 2014 just prior to her marriage, Josue won the title as National Ms. New Jersey. In April, she duplicated that achievement by winning the Mrs. New Jersey title.
This national pageant system’s mission is inspiring others through the world of positive pageantry. The pageant was open to all 50 states and the District of Columbia for women 35 and over of any marital status.
Josue, 38, is from Jersey City. She is a web TV reporter video journalist.
Josue competed in her first pageant at 17, and won, which gave her a scholarship to New York University, where she pursued a degree in economics and journalism.
“I never wanted to be a model when I was a kid,” she said. “I actually aspired to be a TV news correspondent and often copied Katie Tong during the 7 o’clock news. I was an awkward kid with big eyes and lanky arms. And with my big feet, complete with my long black hair in a twist, my nickname was ‘Olive Oil’ when I was growing up. I only started modeling because I won Miss Teen New Jersey. I also only entered the pageant because my guidance counselor encouraged me to join. She saw that I liked fashion. It wasn’t something I wanted to do but I’m very grateful I was able to compete and get to where I am today because of pageantry. It opened so many doors and I just wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.”
She has also has the distinction of having won Ms. New York in 2012, when she become first runner up in the nationals.
Born and raised in Jersey City by Filipino immigrant parents, she began her modeling career when she won New Jersey’s Perfect Teen pageant.
“Pageantry is really a great way to evaluate all that you have achieved. It’s also a great way to set goals for yourself and push yourself even further,” she said. “It’s another reason why I compete, aside from supporting and raising awareness for my platform.”
She said she is currently focusing on the nationals which will be held on July 3 through the 8 in Orlando, Fla.
“My goal is to take home the crown and make New Jersey proud. I have a lot to do especially raising awareness for my platform which is the All-Stars project and also working closely with the Mrs. United States pageant and raising awareness and supporting the American Heart Association,” she said.
Named Mrs. New Jersey in May
Josue was named Mrs. New Jersey after a pageant held May21 to 22 in Lawrenceville.
“The final competition was held on May 22 at the Yvonne Theatre in Rider University,” she said. ”During pageant weekend there were several events including a gala that celebrated the achievements of married women and their dedication to their platform. On the night of the finals there were several different designers that showcased their glamorous designs including Elizabeth Delgado who dressed all the contestants for the opening number. The opening number was a fashion show instead of a dance which really showed how the new state directors really want to update how pageants are produced. The Mrs. United States pageant celebrates married women and believes women should be celebrated for their ability to integrate beauty and intelligence.”
The contest was split into four sections, personality interview, swimsuit and fitness, evening gown, and a final question asked on stage. The contest had five judges.
“My final on stage question was about my platform which is education. I am an advocate for education. I’m currently supporting the All-Stars project that is newly located in Jersey City, New Jersey,” she said. “The All-Stars Project is a nonprofit organization that has been around for 30 years. Located in seven different cities throughout the nation, it focuses on education enhancements to disadvantaged children through performance learning. Education is very important because it’s our way to empower our youth to be future leaders tomorrow. It’s also a great way to give disadvantaged youth an opportunity to choose their future.”
Remarkably, she never took modeling or acting classes.
“But I did take a lot of ESL courses, not because I wanted to be a news correspondent but I had a speech impediment,” she said. ”English wasn’t the first language spoken at home so I had a heavy accent and problems with T’s, TH’a, D’s and CH’s. I also took a lot of journalism and public speaking courses at NYU. But I never took classes for modeling. I learned how to walk the runway just by watching ‘FT’ fashion television. Luckily at the age of 17, I landed a Speedos campaign and was featured in Lucky and Time Out magazines. Modeling was a whole new world that opened up to me. I just recently launched a series of commercials for Sephora.”
She said the hardest thing for her was to believe in herself and to have the confidence to know she could do it.
“When you’re a first generation Filipina-American with a thick accent, going to Saint Aedan’s, which was mostly Italian and Irish students, you’re the odd one out,” she said. “So you look different, your accent is different and you eat different foods . I mostly had a Filipino style SPAM sandwich packed by my mother while others had ham. But after a while I got to gain the confidence and embracing all my awkwardness and started loving the person that I am and my uniqueness. I do think that’s the key to everything . Once you are confident and believe in yourself , you know who you are and you know your strengths and weaknesses then you become your own hero.”
She said her parents became her role models, people who immigrated to a foreign country to seek a better life and possibilities for their family and their children.
“Starting a new life in a foreign country is very hard and they’re able to do it. They are the reason I keep going every day. If they can do it so can I,” she said. “I think my biggest accomplishment aside from graduating from New York University in three years is winning the Barack Obama presidential volunteer service award. It’s a prestigious award where I was I received a bronze pin for dedicating over 120 hours of volunteer service to my community. It doesn’t sound like a lot over 12 months, but when you have four different jobs and are planning a wedding, it’s a big undertaking.”
For more information about the contest and to follow Mrs. New Jersey United States 2017 throughout her year please visit www.mrsnjpaunitedstates.com, www.facebook.com/Mrs-New-Jersey-United-States-Pageant or via instagram @mrsnjpaunitedstates.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org